Among the items collected at the archives are colonial and state laws dating to 1755, official records, Civil War records, land records, private manuscripts, and the Vanishing Georgia Project. Highlights of the collection include a rare signature from Button Gwinnett (a signer of the Declaration of Independence from Georgia), a letter from George Washington, and a copy of the royal charter establishing the colony of Georgia in 1732.
Lucian Lamar Knight was the founder and first director of the archives (1919-25). A cousin of journalist Henry W. Grady, Knight was a journalist, ordained Presbyterian minister, and lawyer. For ten years (1892-1902) he worked for the Atlanta Constitution as a reporter and editor, and during this period he researched Georgia history. He was also the associate editor of the Atlanta Georgian from 1908 to 1910, the founder and president of the Georgia Historical Association, and the author of several books on Georgia.
Over the years, the archives has sponsored several projects aimed at preserving Georgia's history. Carroll Hart, who was director of the archives from 1964 to 1982, initiated the Vanishing Georgia Project in 1975 to preserve and copy photographs in communities throughout the state. A mobile photo lab visited counties to copy historical pictures from private collections. Approximately 18,000 photographs have been preserved through this project. In addition Hart instituted
From the mid-1940s until the mid-1990s, the archives used microfilm to make preservation and access copies of records. Current technology enables the archives to scan records and make digital copies more widely accessible. As the archives began to digitize large numbers of records related to the history of Georgia, David Carmicheal, named director of the archives in 2000, envisioned making such images available through an online database. In 2005 the archives launched Georgia's Virtual Vault, a database available on the Georgia Archives Web site that includes digital images of maps, photographs, plans, drawings, and other documents.
In addition to its primary mission of preserving state records, the archives offers many other resources and services to Georgia citizens, including lectures, tours, and assistance with family history research. The archives' holdings of census records, vital records, Civil War military records, and African American resources make it a popular destination for genealogical research, and educators can find help using historical documents in the classroom. The archives' staff also provides emergency advice for damaged materials and disaster preparedness planning for documents.
The present-day Georgia Archives,
The southeastern branch of the National Archives and Records Administration is located next door to the archives. The partnership between the Georgia Archives and the National Archives is unique in the nation; genealogists and historians are able to conduct research at both the state and national archives on the same visit.
Josephine Hart Brandon, Pages of Glory: Georgia's Documentary Heritage (Savannah: Georgia Historical Society, 1998).
Robert Scott Davis Jr., comp., Research in Georgia (Easley, S.C.: Southern Historical Press, 1981).
Kevin Duffy, "Georgia's Diary Has a New Home," Atlanta Journal-Constitution, December 2, 2003.
Georgia Department of Archives and History, Vanishing Georgia (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1982).
Lydia F. Knight, Dalton State College
A project of the Georgia Humanities Council, in partnership with the University of Georgia Press, the University System of Georgia/GALILEO, and the Office of the Governor.