The 42,000-square-foot James G. Kenan Research Center is the archives and library of the Atlanta History Center.
It is free and open to the public, 10am-5pm Tuesdays-Saturdays. Patrons must register and provide photo identification to obtain a research card. For Kenan Research Center policies and procedures, call 404.814.4040 or visit our website here.
Manuscripts at the Kenan Research Center include more than 2,000 collections from families, businesses, political and civic leaders, and city and county governments. The bulk of the collection dates from the Civil War to the mid-20th century. Civil War manuscripts include thousands of pages of diary entries and correspondence of Union and Confederate soldiers as well as civilian accounts of the Atlanta Campaign during summer 1864.
Correspondence, printed materials, organizational records, audio recordings and ephemera from other collections document a range of subjects, including women’s history, antebellum history and slavery, Atlanta city government, transportation, business, the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games, LGBT history, World War II, Folklife, African American history and the Civil Rights movement, and literary history and the arts.
Kenan Research Center is a national resource for images relating to local and regional topics, from the antebellum South to the present. The collection includes photographic prints, negatives, postcards, maps, and architectural drawings as well as film and video recordings. The Research Center holds more than 1,200 cubic feet of photographic images dating from the 1840s to the present. The collection documents politics and elections, the Civil War, the Civil Rights movement, the New Deal, World War II, sports, entertainment, popular culture, portraiture, architecture, transportation, Atlanta neighborhoods, rural and coastal Georgia, and aerial views and street scenes of Atlanta. Many of these visual resources are available online through the visual database Album, at album.atlantahistorycenter.com.
With holdings of more than 3,000 audio and video oral history recordings, the Kenan Research Center is committed to collecting, preserving, and sharing the oral histories of our communities. Collections include Living Atlanta oral history recordings covering a broad array of topics relevant to the history of Atlanta between World War I and World War II; Voices Across the Color Line oral history recordings that document the civil rights activities of the Atlanta University student community in the early 1960s; and the Veterans History Project oral history recordings that describe the experience of veterans who served in World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Persian Gulf War, and the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts. Nearly 500 Veterans History Project recordings are available online through the visual database Album, and on Atlanta History Center’s YouTube channel.
Cherokee Garden Library
Founded in 1975 by the Cherokee Garden Club under the leadership of Anne C. Carr, the Cherokee Garden Library serves as an active resource center that collects educational and research material in the fields of gardening, landscape design, garden history, horticulture, floral design, botanical art, and ecology, with a specific focus on documenting the Southeast.
The Cherokee Garden Library acquires, through purchase and gift, historic and contemporary source materials on American gardening and its root sources; preserves and cares for its collections; and presents relevant programs and exhibitions to the community.
Newspapers, Microfilm, Periodicals, & Books
Newspaper holdings include more than 5,000 issues dating from 1827 to 1912. The majority of the collection includes papers published in Georgia. The Research Center holds microfilm copies of The Atlanta Journal, Atlanta Constitution, and other city newspapers from the mid-19th century to the present. Notably, it also holds microfilm copies of the Atlanta Daily World, the influential African American newspaper, spanning 1964-2009, and hard copies from 1973-79. Other microfilm holdings include City of Atlanta building permits, 1897-1983, and Atlanta city directories, 1859-1991. Of particular interest is the Garrett Necrology genealogy database, a microfilmed resource containing cemetery surveys, obituary abstracts, and other records documenting Atlanta deaths, 1857-1932.
Kenan Research Center holdings include more than 40,000 books, pamphlets, and periodicals. These include books about Atlanta and Georgia history, the Civil War, architecture and decorative arts, genealogy, and garden history. Rare book collections include the Beverly M. DuBose and Thomas S. Dickey Civil War collections; the Philip Trammell Shutze and Harvey Smith architecture and decorative arts collections; the Shillinglaw Southern Cookbook Collection; the Bobby Jones Golf Library; and the Franklin M. Garrett Library.
Patrons searching for visual arts materials for personal use, academic research, publication, broadcast, or exhibition can purchase images from Album, or request scans of other collection items by contacting our reprographics department at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Written policies regarding the reproduction of images as well as price schedules, order forms, and licensing applications are available at here.
The Kenan Research Center provides orientation tours for educators and students in grades 8-12 as well as college and university classes in history, public history, architecture, and art and design. Additional school field trip programs that focus on using primary documents in researching the Civil War and the Civil Rights movement are available. Genealogy workshops are conducted several times each year covering topics such as beginning genealogy and newspaper, census, military, and cemetery research.
Accessing the Collection
The Kenan Research Center’s online catalog, Terminus; Finding Aids (collection inventories); Album (photograph collections); Architecture Database; Atlanta History: A Journal of Georgia and the South; and Garrett Necrology genealogy database are all accessible here.
Buildings & Grounds
Kenan Research Center preserves extensive primary source holdings for the study of Atlanta.
Learning & Research
Researchers can explore much of Atlanta History Center’s museum, archival, and oral history collections online.
A collection of Atlanta History Center press coverage.