The Middle Georgia Archives is devoted to documenting the rich and interesting history of Middle Georgia, to preserving the region's historical records for the future, and to serving as a resource center for archival and manuscript collections in Middle Georgia. The archival records that the Middle Georgia Archives preserves are the records of our activities - as individuals, as institutions, as governments, as organizations, as businesses, and as a people. These records are our fullest, most direct link with the past. They make up a permanently valuable informational and cultural resource, and are a key element in perpetuating our heritage.
The development of a repository for archival records in Middle Georgia began comparatively recently. For many years the Washington Memorial Library informally acquired some manuscripts, archival records and photographs, but no archives was officially established. The Middle Georgia Archives was founded by the Middle Georgia Historical Society in 1978 in response to the perceived need. After first being located in the Sidney Lanier Cottage, the Archives was moved to the Washington Memorial Library in 1980. Since 1983 the Archives has been housed within the Genealogy and History Room of the Library, complementing the room's excellent printed and microfilmed resources. In 1984, the Library became the sponsor of the Archives and all archival material was transferred by the Middle Georgia Historical Society to the Library by a permanent loan.
Manuscripts and Records
The Archives collects and makes available for research the manuscript and archival records which are of historical significance for Middle Georgia, including correspondence (personal, family, and business), diaries, scrapbooks, reminiscences, maps, architectural drawings, and the records of clubs, organizations, businesses, and churches. Our quest to preserve the historical records of Middle Georgia will succeed only with the continued assistance and support of the people of the region. The Archives staff will be glad to visit with prospective donors of historical material to advise them about the historical value and preservation needs of the records. The variety of materials that currently make up the holdings of the Archives, fully indexed and open to researchers, is illustrated by the following sample collections:
~ Personal and Family Records
Many collections of personal and family records are housed in the Archives. Among them are the Tracy-Steele Family Collection, 1841-1880; Charles M. Farrar Diaries, 1878-1952; John J. McKay Jr. Collection, 1899-1982; Charles J. Bloch Papers, 1932-1971; Washington Family Collection, 1844-1893; Conner Family Collection, 1859-1900; Baber-Blackshear Family Collection, 1731-1907; Desau-Stevens-Holliday Family Collection, 1873-1979; and some of the papers of writers Sidney Lanier and Harry Stillwell Edwards.
Family outing, Central City Park, ca. 1877
~ Records of Clubs, Organizations and Churches
The role played by organized groups in Middle Georgia is an important part of our history. A number of collections document this. Some of these include the Macon Volunteers Records, 1825-1958; Macon Council on World Affairs Records, 1954-1983; Stone Creek Baptist Church Records, 1808-1962; League of Women Voters of Macon Records, 1948- ; Mary Hammond Washington Chapter, DAR Records, 1893- ; Bibb County Republican Party Records, 1956- ; Christ Church Records, 1825-1975; Macon Writers Club Records, 1915-1983; and the Chautaqua of the South Collection, 1917-1920.
Meeting, Georgia Training School for Girls, ca. 1952
~ Business Records
Several collections of business-related records are housed in the Archives. Included are some of the business records of the important black businessman Charles H. Douglass and his family, 1906-1967; Willingham Cotton Mills Records, 1899-1972; O'Neal Business Records, 1828-1954; Greater Macon Chamber of Commerce Records, 1838-1859; and the reports of five railroads based in Macon, from the 1840s to the early 1900s.
Acme Brewing Company, Macon, ca. 1894
~ Architectural Drawings and Maps
Also among the holdings in our repository are the Ellamae Ellis League Architectural Drawings, 1926-1969; and over 300 maps, mainly of Georgia cities and counties. Of special interest are the early maps of Middle Georgia counties, the Sanborn Insurance Maps of Macon, 1889-1961; and the maps and surveys of Camp Wheeler, 1917-1943.
~ Miscellaneous Records
The Archives also contains local oral history tapes; microfilmed records; bound copies of Macon newspapers, 1826-1941; broadsides, 1823-1906; and some City of Macon Records, including microfilmed Macon City Council minutes, 1834-1973; and Buckner Melton's mayoral papers, 1975-1979.
The Archives houses five main photograph collections. The most used collection is the Middle Georgia Archives Photograph Collection, which includes over 2,200 photographs and negatives depicting people, places and events in Macon and Middle Georgia from the 1850s to the recent past. The Archives is also the depository for the negatives of photographs which appeared in The Macon Telegraph and News from 1948 until the late 1970s. They number approximately 300,000 and are a rich source of recent local history. The Harold E. Grant Photograph Collection is made up of over 3,500 photographs, the work of a local amateur photographer in the 1960s and early 1970s. These prints are a very good reference point in tracing the many changes in Macon in recent years. The fourth collection, the Rees Stereograph Collection provides a unique look at Macon in the 1870s. The 170 stereographs include some of the only known pictures of some of Macon's churches, businesses, parks, residences and street scenes. Finally, the Archives is the depository for the Mary Calloway Jones Collection of Authentic Houses, which contains photographs of important Middle Georgia residences, taken in the 1930s and 1940s. In addition to these photograph collections, which are arranged by collection and subject and indexed, the Archives has also compiled a 700 item index to interesting photographs that have been published in art books and informational books about Macon. Donations of historical photographs that offer further pictorial evidence of the growth and progress of Middle Georgia are always welcomed.
Stereographic view of the W. B. Johnston home (Hay House), ca. 1876
Use of the Archives
The Archives is located on the first floor of the Washington Memorial Library and is open to all who desire to consult its holdings. Hours of service are 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Monday through Friday, with Saturday service available by appointment only. Phone: (478) 744-0851.
The Archives are closed for the following holidays:
New Year's Day, MartinLuther King, Jr. Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. For many of these holidays, the archives are closed Saturday also. Please telephone if you have any questions about our holiday closings.
Finding aids are available to ease access to archival collections. These include inventories, indexes, lists, registers, and catalog cards. A prospective user should consult a staff member for information about the procedures for using the finding aids, the availability of collections, and the rules for the use of archival material. The rules concerning the use of historical materials are designed to protect them and to assure that they will be available for future use. Materials must be used in the Archives and cannot be borrowed.
Requests for copies of archival material will be reviewed by a staff member to assess the effects of copying on the material and to ensure compliance with copyright laws and donors' restrictions. Off-site copying is not permitted. A current price list for reproduction of photographs is available from the staff.