Georgia Historical Society

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GHS logo small.jpg
Hodgson Hall exterior.jpg
Hodgson Hall, headquarters of the Georgia Historical Society
GHS Seal 6 inches 300 dpi.jpg
Seal of the Georgia Historical Society

"Non sibi, sed Alliis"

Not for Self, but for Others
Formation 1839
Type Private, Nonprofit
Headquarters Hodgson Hall
  • Savannah, GA Atlanta, GA
President and CEO
W. Todd Groce, Ph.D.

The Georgia Historical Society, headquartered in Savannah, Georgia, is the oldest cultural institution in the state and one of the oldest historical organizations in the United States. It is the only statewide historical society in Georgia. Since 1839, the society has collected, examined, and taught Georgia history through a variety of educational outreach programs, publications, and research services.


Founded in 1839 in Savannah, Georgia, the Society is the oldest continuously operating state historical society in the Southern United States and one of the oldest historical organizations in the United States.[1] Founders include John Macpherson Berrien, Richard D. Arnold, Eugenius A. Nisbet, Thomas Butler King, William Bacon Stevens, Israel K. Tefft, James Hamilton Couper, and James Moore Wayne.

Mission statement[edit]

The Georgia Historical Society is an independent statewide institution responsible for collecting, examining, and teaching Georgia history.


The Research Library Reading Room, Hodgson Hall.

The society’s statewide headquarters and research center are located in historic Hodgson Hall in Savannah; Georgia’s oldest city. Built for the Society in 1876, and named for American diplomat; Savannahian; and 25-year Curator of the Society William B. Hodgson, Hodgson Hall features high vaulted ceilings and decorative ironwork. The building was designed by American Institute of Architects founder Detlef Lienau and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Abrahams Archival Annex, named for Savannah lawyer Edmund H. Abrahams, was added in 1970 to house the Society's collections.

In 2011, the Society purchased a neighboring historic property to house its expanding staff. The Jepson House Education Center, built in 1856 and named for Savannah philanthropists Robert S. and Alice Jepson, houses the executive and administrative offices of the Society.[2]

The Society also has an office in Atlanta.

GHS research center[edit]

The Georgia Historical Society is a research center and operates a research library for the benefit of the public. Within the Society’s library and archives is the oldest collection of materials related to Georgia history in the nation, including 4 million manuscripts, 100,000 photographs, 25,000 architectural drawings, 20,000 rare books, and thousands of maps, portraits, and artifacts representing every section of the state and every era of its history. As both a Branch Repository of the Secretary of State’s office and a private institution, GHS works in tandem with the Georgia State Archives, which collects and makes accessible official government records that are property of the state of Georgia. It is the responsibility of GHS to do the same with private manuscripts and private sector materials belonging to individuals, businesses, and organizations that are not generated by and do not belong to the state of Georgia. Each year thousands of scholars, teachers, students, genealogists, historic preservationists, journalists, lawyers, judges, film and documentary makers, government and private sector leaders from around the world access this material, either on site or online, in order to discover the past and better understand the present. The library and archival collections are used for a wide variety of public research purposes, including writing history books and articles, tracing ancestry, preserving historic buildings, student projects, classroom teaching, crafting legislation and preparing legal decisions, creating documentaries and television programs, and investigative journalism.[3]

Today in Georgia History[edit]

Today in Georgia History are daily 90-second TV, radio, and internet segments focusing on an event or person associated with a particular day in Georgia history. They are written, researched, and hosted by the Georgia Historical Society, and produced and broadcast by Georgia Public Broadcasting.[4]

Georgia History Festival[edit]

The Georgia History Festival is a K–12 educational program put on by the Society and consists of two weeks of events to commemorate and study Georgia's history. It is held annually around the anniversary of the founding of the colony of Georgia on February 12, 1733. Festival events include a kickoff lecture, Colonial Faire & Muster, Super Museum Sunday, Georgia Day Parade, and the Trustees Gala.[5]

Georgia Trustees[edit]

The Georgia Trustees is an award given by the Georgia Historical Society, in conjunction with the Governor of Georgia, to individuals whose accomplishments and community service reflect the ideals of the founding body of Trustees, which governed the Georgia colony from 1732 to 1752. Trustees are inducted each February at the Trustees Gala in Savannah. Recipients include Bernard Marcus, Marguerite Williams, Hank Aaron, Ted Turner, Vince Dooley, Sam Nunn, Tom Cousins, Andrew Young, Tom Cousins, Truett Cathy, Herman Russell, Arthur Blank and Billy Payne.[6][7]

Georgia historical marker program[edit]

In 1951, the Georgia General Assembly formed the Georgia Historical Commission with a primary goal of marking historically significant sites. The state’s historical marker program grew out of this effort. State markers are well recognized – dark green with gold lettering and bearing the State seal. The Georgia Department of Natural Resources began administering the marker program after the Georgia Historical Commission was dissolved in 1973. Community support for the marker program has always been high, resulting in the erection of almost 2,000 markers since the inception of the program.

In 1997, the State of Georgia discontinued erecting new historical markers. Although the maintenance and replacement of markers erected prior to July 1, 1998, remains the purview of the State of Georgia through its Department of Natural Resources, headquartered in Atlanta, the Georgia Historical Society, through a contract with the State of Georgia, assumed responsibility for gathering and approving applications for new historical markers, and erecting those historical markers.

The new Georgia historical marker program administered by the GHS differs in many ways from the state program, most noticeably in the appearance of the actual markers. The new markers, of the same size, shape, and material, bear the Georgia Historical Society seal rather than that of the State. Also, rather than being dark green with gold lettering, the new markers have a black background, silver seal, and silver lettering.

The Georgia Historical Society has also made changes in sponsorship requirements and revised the review process. This is a competitive application process that can result in no more than twelve (12) markers being approved during each fiscal year of the Society. Since July 1, 1998, nearly 200 new historical markers have been erected in 57 counties throughout the state. Of these markers, forty-four percent represent African-American, Female, and Native-American subjects. Markers are selected by an independent Marker Review Committee which reviews applications for historical markers twice annually.

Affiliate chapter program[edit]

The Georgia Historical Society's Affiliate Chapter Program is a statewide network designed to help local historical organizations, through workshops on the care of historical records and artifacts, consultation visits by Society staff, technical assistance, subscriptions to GHS publications, publicity, and awards in recognition of outstanding achievements. The program was started in 1996 as part of the "Initiative 2000," which sought to redirect the Society toward broader statewide service. The network includes nearly two hundred local historical organizations throughout the state of Georgia and beyond. Affiliate membership is open to all not-for-profit organizations whose mission is consistent with that of the Georgia Historical Society. Members include historical and genealogical societies, commissions, museums, foundations, archives, preservation organizations, churches, and patriotic organizations.


The Georgia Historical Quarterly has been published by the Society since 1917 and contains scholarly articles and book reviews on Georgia and Southern history. The journal received a Governor's Award in the Humanities in 1999.[1]

The Society also publishes a newsmagazine, Georgia History Today, for its members that focuses on popular subjects in promoting history around the state.

Headlines is the biweekly newsletter of the Georgia Historical Society and can be subscribed to through the website at

"Off the Deaton Path" is a blog by Senior Historian Dr. Stan Deaton.


Albert S. Britt Jr., Overture to the Future at the Georgia Historical Society (Savannah: Georgia Historical Society, 1974).

W. Todd Groce, "Hodgson Hall at One Hundred and Twenty-five," Georgia Historical Quarterly 87 (spring 2003): 88-119.

  1. ^ a b "New Georgia Encyclopedia: Georgia Historical Society". Retrieved 2012-03-23. 
  2. ^ Van, Adam. "Georgia Historical Society to expand with acquisition of neighboring property". Retrieved 2012-02-23. 
  3. ^
  4. ^ "Georgia history to come alive every day on GPB radio and tv". SaportaReport. 2011-08-31. Retrieved 2012-02-23. 
  5. ^ "Major Sponsors Make the Marquee for 2011 Georgia History Festival". Retrieved 2012-02-23. 
  6. ^ Mobley, Chuck. "Georgia History Festival; a stately celebration". Retrieved 2012-02-23. 
  7. ^ "New Georgia Encyclopedia: Georgia Historical Society". Retrieved 2012-02-23. 

External links[edit]