The Heritage Room at Athens-Clarke County Library holds more than one hundred archival collections, largely pertaining to Athens-based organizations or persons who lived in Athens. Among the organizations represented are the television station WNGM, the Trussell Motor Company, the Thomas Textile Company, the Kiwanis Club, the Elijah Clarke Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, and the Altrusa Club. Among the personal collections of noted Athenians are Al and Conoly Hester, Hugh Logan, Jack Martin, Dick Mendenhall, H Randolph Holder, and Hubert McAlexander. The finding aids for these collections can be read and searched at the Archive and Special Collections> website.
Portions of these collections have been digitized and are available to view at the Digital Library of Georgia, including the State Normal School and Navy Supply Corps School collection, the Athens Woman’s Club collection, the City of Athens Police records, the Dr. JB Carlton freedmen medical ledger, and the Image Magazine collection. The Heritage Room maintains the official records of the Athens Regional Library System, portions of which are available online at the Internet Archive.
The Heritage Room played a crucial role in the scanning of the entire run of Flagpole, Athens’ weekly newspaper, available at the Georgia Historic Newspapers database. We also maintain an archive of every printed issue of Flagpole dating back to 1995. This is just one component of our diverse and always-growing periodicals collection, which includes back issues of Athens Magazine, Boom Magazine, Foxfire, the Georgia Journal, the United Free Press, Zebra Magazine, the local Chamber of Commerce newsletter, and student publications from Clarke Central and Cedar Shoals high schools, among others.
A major part of the Heritage Room archives available to view online is Rendezvous with Destiny, the World War II oral-history project that the library embarked upon in 1994, interviewing dozens of veterans about their experiences. Every interview has been digitized and can be easily accessed via an online playlist. The archives contains additional material about this project as well as other oral histories covering varied aspects of Athens history, including a set of interviews about the desegregation of public schools.
While many of our archival collections feature the materials that one may expect from archival collections–namely, correspondence, financial records, scrapbooks, rough drafts of books, family trees, meeting minutes–they also offer plenty of surprises for our researchers. For example, we have a wooden medicine chest used by Crawford Long. Also found in our archive is an ancient skyphos (a large two-handed drinking cup) dating from approximately 2600 BC donated to the city of Athens in 1955 by the nation of Greece as part of a State Department educational exchange program. The Heritage Room also maintains the Athens library’s art collection, examples of which are seen throughout the building.
In recent years, the Athens-Clarke County Library became one of a select few public libraries across the nation chosen by the Internet Archive to participate in its Community Webs project. Heritage Room librarians first identify websites related to the areas covered by the Athens Regional Library System to be preserved for posterity. Then, using the Internet Archive’s Archive-It program, they “crawl” the websites so that their contents can be saved. More than 200 websites have been documented, as seen at the Heritage Room’s Community Webs page, and we’re always looking for more. Let us know if we have missed something.