Georgia Historical Society

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GHS logo small.jpg
Hodgson Hall interior.jpg
The Research Center's Reading Room, W. B. Hodgson Hall
GHS Seal 6 inches 300 dpi.jpg
Seal of the Georgia Historical Society
TypeIndependent Educational and Research Institution
  • Savannah, GA Atlanta, GA
President and CEO
W. Todd Groce, Ph.D.

The Georgia Historical Society (GHS) is the premier independent statewide educational and research institution responsible for collecting, examining, and teaching Georgia history.

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

The Georgia Historical Society was founded under the same motto employed by the Georgia Trustees in establishing the colony of Georgia over a century earlier in 1733: “Non Sibi, Sed Aliis” – not for self, but for others. Since its founding, the Georgia Historical Society has grown into a nationally-recognized research and educational institution.


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, Edward Padelford and James Moore Wayne.

Mission statement[edit]

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


Georgia Historical Society's Research Center, Hodgson Hall.
Georgia Historical Society's Jepson House Education Center

Georgia Historical Society's main campus is located in Savannah, Georgia's oldest city, and is divided into a research center and an education center, reflecting the twin pillars of the Society's mission: education and research. The Society's Research Center is housed in W. B. Hodgson Hall at 501 Whitaker Street in Savannah.[2] Built for the Society in 1876, and named for William B. Hodgson, American diplomat, Savannahian, and 25-year Curator of the Society, 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 hold the Society's archival 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 and serves as its headquarters.[[3]

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 5 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.[4]

Today in Georgia History[edit]

Today in Georgia History are daily 90-second video segments focusing on an event or person associated with a particular day in Georgia history. They are written, researched, and hosted by Dr. Stan Deaton and the Georgia Historical Society, and produced and broadcast by, Don Smith, Keocia Howard, Bruce Burkhardt, and Georgia Public Broadcasting.[5]

Georgia History Festival[edit]

The Georgia History Festival is a K–12 educational program put on by the Society and consists of six months of events (coinciding with the traditional academic school year) 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.[6]

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 J. Russell, Arthur Blank, Billy Payne, Alana Shepherd, Paula Wallace, James Blanchard, Muhtar Kent, F. Duane Ackerman, A.D. "Pete" Correll, Ed Bastian, and W. Paul Bowers.[7][8]

Georgia historical marker program[edit]

Georgia historical marker, erected by the Georgia Historical Society in 2012

Since 1998 the Georgia Historical Society has administered the Georgia Historical Marker Program. Since that time, nearly 250 new historical markers (black with silver lettering and the Society's seal on top) on a wide variety of topics have been installed around the state. The program operates through partnerships with local community, government, civic, and religious groups throughout Georgia and with the support of the Georgia General Assembly through limited funding for new marker projects. Erecting new historical markers is a competitive, application-based process in which the cost of each new marker is shared between the Society and the sponsor(s) of each successful marker application. The approval process involves an independent Marker Review Committee that meets once annually to review submitted historical marker applications.

In cooperation with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, the custodian of the state owned historical markers, GHS is now taking the lead on the maintenance and repair of approximately 2,000 historical markers erected by the State of Georgia prior to 1998. These older markers date back as early as the 1950s and are typically green and gold with the seal of the State of Georgia on the top of the marker plaque. Based on the amount of available funding to support the program, GHS is in the process of developing a system to identify and address the needs of these markers across Georgia.

Vincent J. Dooley Distinguished Fellows Program[edit]

The Vincent J. Dooley Distinguished Fellows program honors Vince Dooley for his lifelong commitment to history and higher education. As a longtime member and former Chairman of the Georgia Historical Society’s Board of Curators, Coach Dooley has demonstrated his strong belief in and support of the Society’s mission as a nationally-recognized research and educational institution.

The Dooley Distinguished Fellows Program is designed to accomplish two goals consistent with Coach Dooley’s life and legacy: recognizing senior scholars in the field of history and mentoring and developing emerging historians.

Individuals designated as Dooley Distinguished Teaching Fellows of the Society are national leaders in the field of history as both writers and educators whose research has enhanced or changed the way the public understands the past. In addition to their outstanding scholarship, Dooley Distinguished Teaching Fellows have served the Georgia Historical Society as faculty in teacher training seminars, as lecturers, as consultants, or in a similar capacity. Being designated as a Dooley Distinguished Fellow recognizes and formalizes the relationship forged through this service.

The Dooley Distinguished Research Fellows Program will also mentor the next generation of historians by giving younger scholars the opportunity to conduct research for a specific period of time in the vast collection of primary sources at the Georgia Historical Society Research Center. The research is expected to lead to a major piece of scholarly work such as: a dissertation, a book, an article in a refereed scholarly journal, a chapter in an edited collection, or an academic paper presented at a scholarly conference.

The Vincent J. Dooley Distinguished Fellows Program permanently associates Coach Dooley’s name with outstanding historical research and scholarship through the ongoing recognition of Teaching and Research Fellows.

The Vincent J. Dooley Distinguished Fellows Program has been established by the GHS Board of Curators and is supported by an endowment funded by friends and admirers of Vince Dooley.

Dooley Distinguished Teaching Fellows

Dooley Distinguished Teaching Fellows are national leaders in the field of history as both writers and educators whose research has enhanced or changed the way the public understands the past. In addition to their outstanding scholarship, Dooley Distinguished Teaching Fellows have served the Georgia Historical Society as faculty in teacher training seminars, as lecturers, as consultants, or in a similar capacity, advancing the mission of the institution. Being designated as a Dooley Distinguished Fellow recognizes and formalizes the relationship forged through this service.


Senior scholars: Senior, established scholars of history with national reputations who hold a Ph.D. and an academic position of Associate Professor or above at an accredited academic university or college. In some cases, properly credentialed independent scholars may be Teaching Fellows as well. Publication track record: Scholars with refereed publications in academic journals or book-length studies published by academic or commercial presses. Teachers: Scholars whose teaching merits have been recognized by universities or colleges.

Service to GHS: Nationally recognized scholars who have furthered the mission of the Georgia Historical Society in one or more of the following ways: Scholars who have served as faculty in GHS-led educator training programs, such as Teaching American History grants, National Endowment for the Humanities seminars; as lecturers or panelists at GHS programs; served as consultants or that served to further the GHS mission in a similar capacity.

Requirements of Teaching Fellows

Teaching Fellows will travel to Savannah or another Georgia city (at GHS discretion) to publicly present new research or a new publication that has significant impact on historiography and the public’s understanding of history. When appropriate, they may be asked to make an in-school presentation for K-12 students and/or to a group of selected K-12 teachers.

Teaching Fellows will receive a cash prize and a commemorative bust of Vince Dooley sculpted by Artist Ross Rossin. Known for large scale, oil-on-canvas paintings that can be found on the walls of the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery, The High Museum of Art, and The Baseball Hall of Fame (to name a few), Rossin has also created busts of legends like Griffin Bell and Arthur Blank as well as the statue of Hank Aaron in SunTrust Park.

David W. Blight of Yale University, author of Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom (Simon & Schuster) was inducted as the inaugural Dooley Distinguished Teaching Fellow on Thursday, November 8, 2018, in Savannah.

Dooley Distinguished Research Fellows

Research Fellowships will begin pending completion of GHS Research Center renovations. The Research Fellowship application process is expected to launch in 2020.

The Dooley Distinguished Research Fellowships are intended to assist scholars in gaining access to and conducting extensive and intensive research specifically in the GHS Research Center collections. Research Fellowships will support scholars from outside the Savannah area engaged in graduate-level, post-doctoral, and independent research. These Research Fellowships will be awarded through an application process. Applications are for on-site research in the collections of the Georgia Historical Society and are intended to support expenses while Research Fellows conduct research at GHS.

Research Fellows have access to the GHS Research Collections, including manuscripts, photographs, architectural drawings, rare and non-rare books, and thousands of maps, portraits, and artifacts.

Up to $5,000 will be awarded each cycle with 1-5 Research Fellows in each award cycle.


Complete applications will consist of four parts:

  1. Online application form
  2. Project proposal
  3. Curriculum Vitae
  4. Letters of Recommendation (2, confidential) from faculty or other scholars familiar with the research project

Project proposals will include:

  1. Title of project
  2. Detailed description of project not to exceed 4 pages
  3. Specific materials of interest at GHS to be consulted
  4. Where research will lead to projects such as: dissertation, book, article, chapter, conference paper, documentary

Successful applications will include an in-depth explanation of how GHS collections are to be used and why they will be essential to the progress and completion of the research project.

Submission Applications will be submitted online.

Eligibility Scholars from outside the Savannah area engaged in independent research. Not eligible: Genealogy projects, church history projects, researchers-for-hire, undergraduates, master’s students.

Deadline to Apply Will be determined each year that Research Fellowships are awarded.

Outreach Each Research Fellow is required to write a blog post of approximately 500 words to appear on the GHS website about his or her project and work completed at GHS by the end of the award period. In addition, GHS may use content in other electronic and print publications or media. Each Research Fellow will acknowledge the Georgia Historical Society Research Center and the Dooley Distinguished Research Fellowship in her or his final product. Further, each Research Fellow will deposit a copy of their publication in the GHS Research Center.

Term of Fellowships Research Fellows are expected to conduct research for a minimum of one week in the GHS Research Center during the period of their Fellowship.

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.


Cover of Georgia Historical Quarterly, Volume CI, Number 1

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]

Cover of Georgia History Today, Volume 11, Number 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"[9] is a blog by Senior Historian Dr. Stan Deaton.

See also[edit]


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. ^ Groce, W. Todd (2003). "Hodgson Hall at One Hundred and Twenty-five". Georgia Historical Quarterly. 87 (1): 88. Retrieved 19 February 2018.
  3. ^ Van, Adam. "Georgia Historical Society to expand with acquisition of neighboring property". Archived from the original on July 19, 2012. Retrieved 2012-02-23.
  4. ^ "Georgia Historical Society". New Georgia Encyclopedia.
  5. ^ "Georgia history to come alive every day on GPB radio and tv". SaportaReport. 2011-08-31. Retrieved 2012-02-23.
  6. ^ "Major Sponsors Make the Marquee for 2011 Georgia History Festival". Archived from the original on 2016-03-03. Retrieved 2012-02-23.
  7. ^ Mobley, Chuck. "Georgia History Festival; a stately celebration". Retrieved 2012-02-23.
  8. ^ "New Georgia Encyclopedia: Georgia Historical Society". Retrieved 2012-02-23.
  9. ^ "Off the Deaton Path". Off the Deaton Path.

External links[edit]