To inspire your research, check out sample Georgia topics paired with links to primary sources and contextual information. Click each image to view it in more detail.

Digital Library of Georgia
Civil Rights Digital Library
Georgia Historic Newspapers

Annie Abbott

Physics-defying “Georgia Magnet” Annie Abbott traveled the world puzzling doctors and audiences with her remarkable illusions. At only one hundred pounds, Abbott could resist being lifted from the floor by men seemingly much stronger than her. She drew enormous crowds and newspapers attempted to reveal her methods to the public, but Abbott continued performing to great acclaim.

Continue reading about Annie Abbott in the New Georgia Encyclopedia.

Clarence A. Bacote

Clarence A. Bacote was a political organizer who helped thousands of African Americans register to vote. A professor of political history at Atlanta University in the 1940s, Bacote was well aware of the many hurdles African Americans had to face in order to participate in the political process. As chair of the Atlanta All-Citizens Registration Committee, Bacote increased the number of Black registered voters from 6,976 to 21,244 in six months.

Continue reading about Clarence A. Bacote in the New Georgia Encyclopedia.

Cornelia Bailey

Cornelia Bailey was the “griot” or historian of Sapelo Island. The unique culture of Sapelo, known as Geechee culture, formed from the blending of Christian and Islamic beliefs and West African traditions. And Sapelo Island’s geographic isolation helped preserve this culture for hundreds of years. Throughout her life, Bailey fought the loss of her community’s cultural heritage and worked to educate the public about Geechee history.

Continue reading about Cornelia Bailey in the New Georgia Encyclopedia.

Clifford “Baldy” Baldowski

An editorial cartoonist for the Augusta Chronicle, Miami Herald, and Atlanta Constitution, Clifford “Baldy” Baldowski was a leading voice of moderation in Georgia during the fight over school desegregation in the 1950s and 1960s. Combining humor, art, and politics, Baldowski’s cartoons caught the attention of a national audience, eventually earning him a Pulitzer Prize nomination, along with many other awards.

Continue reading about Clifford “Baldy” Baldowski in the New Georgia Encyclopedia.

William Bootle

William Bootle’s twenty-seven-year career as U.S. District Court judge for middle Georgia was defined by his court orders, which were instrumental to desegregating Georgia schools, elections, and transportation facilities. Bootle took his position two weeks after the Brown v. Board of Education ruling. Soon after, he ruled in favor of twenty-two Black voters who sued county voting officials for excluding them from voter registration lists. Bootle also ruled that the University of Georgia had illegally rejected two Black students based on their race.

Continue reading about William Bootle in the New Georgia Encyclopedia.

Jimmy Carter

From a humble upbringing in Plains to his election as U.S. president in 1977, James “Jimmy” Carter has stood for human equality and environmental protection. Many regard Carter’s presidency as a failure, due mainly to an economic downturn in the era known as stagflation and to the hostage crisis at the American embassy in Tehran. Despite these criticisms, Carter is one of only two Georgians to receive a Nobel Peace Prize for work in global human rights, efforts which he continues to this day through Habitat for Humanity and the Carter Center in Atlanta. 

Continue reading about Jimmy Carter in the New Georgia Encyclopedia.

Creek Indian Leaders

For Creek Indian leaders, maintaining authority was a constant test of intellect and strategy. During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, Creek leaders struggled to protect their sovereignty amid a growing tide of westward settlement. A mico or chief was expected to protect Indigenous rights and ancestral lands, even if it meant denying increasingly tempting offers of land treaties that benefited them personally.

Continue reading about Creek Indian Leaders in the New Georgia Encyclopedia

Sample Primary Sources

      • Digital Library of Georgia search results for Alexander McGillivray
      • Digital Library of Georgia search results for Tomochichi
      • Digital Library of Georgia search results for Brims
      • Digital Library of Georgia search results for Malatchi
      • Digital Library of Georgia search results for William McIntosh
      • Georgia Historic Newspapers Archive search results for Creek Indian

Mattiwilda Dobbs

International opera singer Mattiwilda Dobbs performed to critical acclaim across Europe and the United States. Born in Atlanta in 1925, Dobbs performed before audiences in Switzerland, Italy, and New York during the 1950s and 1960s. She refused to perform in her hometown until 1962, when the Atlanta Municipal Auditorium was desegregated.

Continue reading about Mattiwilda Dobbs in the New Georgia Encyclopedia.

Henrietta Dozier

Georgia-raised Henrietta Dozier designed churches, schools, banks, houses, and apartments, after receiving a Bachelor of Science in architecture in 1899 from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she was one of three women in her class. Although she designed buildings all over Atlanta, only four are attributed to her. Dozier’s diligence was nevertheless rewarded in 1905 when she was admitted to the American Institute of Architects.

Continue reading about Henrietta Dozier in the New Georgia Encyclopedia.

W. E. B. Du Bois in Georgia

W. E. B. Du Bois was an outspoken educator, activist, historian, and sociologist who tackled social issues and racial discrimination with strength, passion, and dedication. Du Bois accomplished a great deal while living in Georgia, writing several books that improved the lives of African Americans in the state and across the country.

Continue reading about W. E. B. Du Bois in Georgia in the New Georgia Encyclopedia.

Ben Epps

Ben Epps was an engineer and mechanic with a love of flight. In 1907, at nineteen years old, Epps built and flew his first plane, inspired by the success of the Wright brothers. Epps engineered a single-seat airplane in 1925 and even taught his children to fly—his son would become the youngest person, at age thirteen, to fly solo.

Continue reading about Ben Epps in the New Georgia Encyclopedia.

Charlayne Hunter-Gault

An award-winning journalist, Charlayne Hunter-Gault was one of the first two Black students at the University of Georgia. She and Hamilton Holmes were denied entry to UGA despite their abilities, but continued to send in applications to challenge segregation at the university. After winning a legal battle, they were admitted in 1961.

Continue reading about Charlayne Hunter-Gault in the New Georgia Encyclopedia.

Lulu Hurst

Lulu Hurst’s mysterious abilities and vaudeville act brought her fame across the country. As the first “Georgia Wonder,” she could seemingly hold down umbrellas, chairs, and canes, and prevent groups of men from moving them. During the 1880s she traveled throughout the country delighting audiences and confounding skeptics who were suspicious of her tricks.

Continue reading about Lulu Hurst in the New Georgia Encyclopedia.

Maynard Jackson

Maynard Jackson was a groundbreaking Atlanta mayor. Jackson was born in Dallas, Texas, to a family with deep roots in Atlanta. Jackson’s major achievements as mayor included increasing minority business contracts with the city and hosting the 1996 Olympics.

Continue reading about Maynard Jackson in the New Georgia Encyclopedia.

Fanny Kemble

Born in 1809, Fanny Kemble was an English actress famous for her portrayal of Juliet in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. In 1838, Kemble relocated to her husband’s holdings on St. Simon’s islands, where she recorded extensive accounts of the horrors of slavery. When her journal was finally published in 1863, it gave readers outside the antebellum South vivid insight into the atrocities committed in Georgia. 

Continue reading about Fanny Kemble in the New Georgia Encyclopedia.

Primus E. King

On Independence Day in 1944, Primus E. King participated in a seemingly simple act that led to a significant change in Georgia. King entered a courthouse in Columbus and attempted to vote for the Democratic Party’s primary election. Instead of voting, King was removed from the courthouse by a police officer. King and local civil rights activists took the party members responsible to court for infringing on his and other African Americans’ right to vote. King’s bravery to publicly defy white oppression, despite the danger such an action posed, helped eliminate unjust hurdles for Black voters in Georgia. 

Continue reading about Primus E. King in the New Georgia Encyclopedia.

John Lewis

As one of the founding fathers of the civil rights movement, John Lewis made his life’s mission the peaceful and unwavering fight against civil inequality. Lewis participated in and organized protests throughout his adult life and was arrested or viciously beaten by segregationists on multiple occasions. In 1986, Atlanta’s voters elected Lewis to the U.S. House of Representatives, and the voters’ continued support guaranteed his re-election for sixteen consecutive terms. Through determination and a firm resolve, John Lewis was able to help publicize the plights of African Americans both in and out of office. 

Continue reading about John Lewis in the New Georgia Encyclopedia.

Ralph McGill

Ralph McGill was the editor and publisher of the Atlanta Constitution during tense times for Georgians. He passionately urged southerners to accept the end of segregation, and he was a leading voice for racial and ethnic tolerance. Pro-segregation southerners called him a traitor, but he held on to his beliefs and called for others to embrace change.

Continue reading about Ralph McGill in the New Georgia Encyclopedia.

Annie McPheeters

Annie McPheeters, a native of Floyd County, had an extensive career as one of Atlanta’s most important librarians. In the 1940s she launched the Negro History Collection at the Auburn Branch of the Atlanta-Fulton Public Library System, where she collected books by and about people of African descent.

Continue reading about Annie McPheeters in the New Georgia Encyclopedia.

Moina Michael

A passionate educator and devoted advocate for World War I remembrance, Moina Michael earned the nickname  “Poppy Lady” for her work. She began teaching at age fifteen and worked as an educator around Georgia. While visiting Europe, WWI broke out, and Michael assisted stranded tourists and later volunteered to send fallen soldiers back to their hometowns. Touched by the carnage of war, she wore a red poppy for the rest of her life, encouraging others to wear the flower and making poppies a widespread symbol of military sacrifice.

Continue reading about Moina Michael in the New Georgia Encyclopedia.

Mary Musgrove

As an expert in the arts of trade and negotiation, Mary Musgrove—also known as Coosaponakeesa among Creek Indians—formed a crucial link between colonists and Natives in Georgia at the time of Savannah’s founding. As the daughter of a European tradesman and a Creek mother, Musgrove was well-versed in the language and customs of two different worlds. She used her knowledge to foster good relations between the two communities and to boost her own status in an ever-changing society.

Continue reading about Mary Musgrove in the New Georgia Encyclopedia.

Sample Primary Sources

  • Digital Library of Georgia search results for “ Musgrove, Mary, 1700-1765”

Hazel Raines

A fearless pilot and stunt flyer, Hazel Raines served as a lieutenant in both World War II and the Korean War. Born in Waynesboro, Raines began flying after graduating from college, when a friend dared her to take lessons at the airport in her hometown. By her thirties, she had learned to pilot nearly every type of aircraft and even survived her only plane crash in England.

Continue reading about Hazel Raines in the New Georgia Encyclopedia.

Celestine Sibley

Celestine Sibley reported for the Atlanta Constitution for more than fifty years. She wrote about topics ranging from political controversy to key lime pie and authored books in multiple genres. Throughout her life, she wrote more than 10,000 articles, several books, short stories, and more, leaving behind a legacy of writing that spans decades.

Continue reading about Celestine Sibley in the New Georgia Encyclopedia.

Lillian Smith

Writer, social commentator, and traveler, Lillian Smith was an unabashed critic of racial segregation during the brutal era of Jim Crow. Born in Jasper, Florida, in 1897, Smith later moved with her family to Rabun County, Georgia, at seventeen. Smith’s best-known work, Strange Fruit, tells the story of an interracial couple, which, at the time, was a forbidden and controversial theme. Although Smith was often judged by her white peers, she continued to organize interracial conferences and even corresponded with Martin Luther King Jr. during the civil rights movement.

Continue reading about Lillian Smith in the New Georgia Encyclopedia.

Hale Woodruff

Painter and printmaker Hale Woodruff was known across the South for single-handedly establishing Atlanta University’s art department. In his twenties, he spent four years living and studying in Paris, where he defined his style and began collecting African art. When he returned to the United States, he initiated an annual art competition for Black artists and taught at both Atlanta University and New York University for the rest of his life.

Continue reading about Hale Woodruff in the New Georgia Encyclopedia.

Andrew Young

Civil rights leader, politician, and educator Andrew Young is well-known for his work in human rights both at home and abroad. In 1961, Young began to work alongside Martin Luther King Jr., uplifting Black voices through leadership training and voter registration drives. In the decades that followed, Young was voted into political office at the local and national levels and promoted human rights in foreign policy for President Jimmy Carter. 

Continue reading about Andrew Young in the New Georgia Encyclopedia.

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