Note: Since these articles were written in years past, those wishing to visit a repository should contact the library or archives in advance for a current listing of hours of operation.
Contributed by Ann L. Sherman and Jane L. Splawn
Augusta Genealogical Society Adamson Library
1109 Broad Street
Augusta, Georgia 30914-3743
Telephone: (706) 722-4073
Web Site Address: www.augustagensociety.org/
Hours: Monday and Wednesday, 9:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m.; Saturday, 9:00 a.m.–1:00 p.m.; Sunday, 2:00 p.m.–5:00 p.m.
Contact Person: Various volunteers
Directions to and Parking at the Library
From I-20 take exit 200 to the River Watch Parkway. At the traffic light turn left onto the Parkway and go 4.5 miles to the first intersection at Fifteenth Street, at which point the Parkway becomes Jones Street. Continue on Jones Street through the traffic light at Twelfth and Jones Streets. The rear of the library with a parking lot is on the right side of the street in the next block. A “garden alley” leads from the parking lot to the front entrance on Broad Street. To the left of this alley at the rear of the building is a door providing handicap access. This door and the front entrance remain locked at all times, and access is gained by ringing a doorbell. Additional metered parking with a two-hour limit is available in front of the building on Broad Street.
History of the Area
Augusta, the second-oldest and second-largest city in Georgia, was founded in 1736 by General James E. Oglethorpe on the south bank of the Savannah River, midway between the Atlantic Ocean and the Great Smokey Mountains and adjacent to the colony of South Carolina. It was named for Princess Augusta, wife of the Prince of Wales and daughter-in-law of King George II. Augusta quickly became an important economic center of the region, and from 1785 to 1795 it was the capital of the state of Georgia. Except for two occasions during the Revolutionary War when it was under British control, Augusta has served as the county seat of Richmond County. Today it is a thriving city of about 400,000 people and was recently ranked the second most favorable place to live in Georgia.
The Creek Indians ceded the land that would become Richmond County to the English in 1733. In 1758 the colonial legislature created seven parishes, one of which was St. Paul Parish. During the Revolutionary War Whig forces took control of the government of the colony of Georgia and, in 1777, adopted the first state constitution. At that time the existing colonial parishes were transformed into counties, and an eighth county was created from additional ceded land. Richmond County was created from what had been primarily St. Paul Parish as Georgia’s second county after Wilkes. It was named for the third Duke of Richmond, Charles Lenox, who was sympathetic to the cause of the American colonies. Eventually, Richmond County yielded land to create Columbia, Glascock and McDuffie Counties and parts of Warren and Jefferson Counties. Although once an agricultural area, today the county is generally urban in nature with an increasingly denser population.
Location of Genealogical Materials
The entire library, housed at the present location for about twelve years, is devoted to genealogical research. The emphasis of the collection is on Georgia, especially Richmond, Columbia, Burke, and Wilkes Counties; South Carolina, in particular, Old Ninety-Six, Edgefield, and Barnwell Districts; Virginia; the Civil War; and historical perspectives.
Finding Aids and Internet Access
The arrangement of the library, with several finding aids, makes it very “researcher-friendly.” It is organized by genealogists for genealogists. A card catalog at the left front of the building is arranged by categories. This card catalog contains an index to the Mims Collection, featuring research on that family as well as several others. A second collection, taken from various sources, is indexed in this card file and listed under the title of “Persons Born in South Carolina But Living Elsewhere.”
A listing of family histories is located in a loose-leaf binder adjacent to the location of the histories, and an index of area family surnames is located at the rear of the room on large file cards.
Laptop access to the Internet is available at every table for use by researchers.
A collection of over 10,000 volumes is arranged by the Library of Congress System. A section for new books is located at the left of the front entrance. The stacks of books are labeled on the end giving the particular group or groups shelved there. The categories of books are as follows: DAR Collection, “How To” Books, Family Histories, Indians of North America, Colonial Period, Emigration/Immigration, Military Records, National Vital Statistics, Canadian Genealogy, Other States, and Georgia. Also displayed are the Library of Congress Classification Systems, which enhance browsing and book location.
Some books from this impressive collection are:
Periodicals are shelved with the books in the appropriate sections. A few representative publications, with some gaps, are:
Ten map drawers, located in the administrative section on the left side of the building, include maps with various historical dates from nearly all counties in Georgia. The Society is in the process of indexing the drawers. Just to the left of the main entrance is a bookcase labeled “Folios and Maps Index”. Included in this area are five volumes of atlases by Carrie Eldridge; The County Maps of Old England by Thomas Moule; Scotland, A Year of the Land; and The Historical Atlas of the Congress of the Confederate States of America, 1861–1864.
An extensive and comprehensive collection for Georgia and a few directories from South Carolina are stored in a storage room at the back of the building. The volunteer staff will give assistance in locating a specific directory and year. Presently, an index is being completed to assist researchers.
An unusually large collection of telephone directories is stored in a room at the back of the library, with access by staff volunteers only. The largest portion covers Richmond County and surrounding areas, but there are some directories from other Georgia areas.
The extensive Mims Collection of family research is indexed as mentioned above (under Finding Aids), and the actual files are located on an outside wall in blue notebooks.
Pedigree charts of Society members are located in white binders on the right outside wall.Copying machine(s)
One copying machine is located to the left of the front entrance and provides copies of the following sizes:
8 ½ by 11, 15 cents; 8 ½ by 14 (legal), 20 cents; 11 by 17, 30 cents
Copies from the computer are made at this machine and are 50 cents each.
Two microfilm readers and one microfiche reader, both read-only, are available.
One computer is available for the Family Research CDs only. These include eighteen CDs on the IGI of the United States, four CDs on the IGI of Mexico, and nine CDs on the Ancestral File. The Social Security Death Index is also on this computer. The Family Search automatically comes up on the computer with the option to copy to paper or disc. Discs, costing seventy-five cents each, must be purchased from the library to be used at the library.
Other Area Attractions
Augusta, home each spring to the Masters Golf Tournament held at the Augusta National Country Club, has many interesting attractions.
The Georgia Golf Hall of Fame was created in 1982. Its purpose was to preserve golf history in both the state and region, to honor those who have made significant contributions to the game of golf, and to inspire young golfers to reach for their highest potentials. Included in this seventeen-acre area is the Georgia Golf Hall of Fame’s Botanical Gardens. Located on Reynolds Street, eight acres of beautiful gardens along the banks of the Savannah River contain sculptures of the famous golfers who have played and won at the Masters.
A major Augusta attraction is its famous Riverwalk, an area of tree-and flower-lined paths at the edge of the Savannah River between Fifth and Tenth Streets. This area, encompassing five city blocks, contains a large marina and an amphitheater providing various performances throughout the year.
The boyhood home of future President Woodrow Wilson, at 419 Seventh Street, has been restored and is open to the public. Wilson lived here from 1860 to 1870 during the time his father served as the pastor of the First Presbyterian Church. Call (706) 722–9828 for details.
A 168-foot-tall chimney, all that remains of the Confederate Powder Works, is located along the Augusta Canal on Goodrich Street. This factory, once consisting of twenty-six buildings, was the second-largest powder works in the world and was the only permanent structure begun and completed by the Confederacy. It operated between 1862 and 1865.
The Cotton Exchange Museum at 32 Eighth Street is located in the restored Cotton Exchange Building, at one time center to the city’s booming cotton trade, which made Augusta the second-largest inland cotton market in the world. The museum houses many items from that era. Admission is free.
The Ezekiel Harris House at 1822 Broad Street was built in 1797 by a leading tobacco merchant. It is filled with period furnishings and re-creates the aura of the rich life that tobacco trading provided for some Augusta people in the late 18th century. Call (706) 724–0436.
The Gertrude Herbert Institute of Art at 506 Telfair Street is housed in a Federal-style house built in 1818 for Augusta Mayor Nicholas Ware. It is a center providing art classes and changing exhibits open to the public. Admission is free.
Meadow Garden at 1320 Independence Drive is a Sand Hill cottage built about 1791 for George Walton, youngest original signer of the Declaration of Independence and twice governor of Georgia. It is the oldest documented house in Augusta and the first historic preservation project in the state. Call (706) 724–4174.
The Morris Museum of Art at Riverwalk and Tenth Street features period galleries with over 2,000 works of art spanning the period from 1790 to the present. Open Tuesday–Sunday, it has free admission on Sunday. Call (706) 724–7501.
St. Paul’s Episcopal Church at 605 Reynolds Street, built after a fire in 1915, is the fourth structure on the site. The original church was built in 1750 as part of the site of Fort Augusta, built by the British in 1739. The old Celtic Cross, erected to designate the site, still stands, and the adjacent cemetery, used from colonial days to 1819, is the resting place of many notable Georgians. Tours are by appointment only. Call (706) 724–2485.
*Ann L. Sherman, 507 Birkdale Blvd., Carrollton, Georgia 30116, (770) 830–6684, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Jane L. Splawn, 5280 Dunroven Way, Dawsonville, Georgia 30534, (770) 781–5551, E-mail: email@example.com
(This article appeared in the Georgia Genealogical
Society Quarterly, Vol. 41, No. 2)
©2006 by The Georgia Genealogical Society