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

The 1893 Sea Islands Hurricane

One of the deadliest hurricanes in American history made landfall south of Tybee Island on August 27, 1893. Word of the incoming storm spread through coastal Georgia by telegraph, word of mouth, and in rare cases, the telephone. But remote communities were less fortunate. The Sea Islands, home to more than 30,000 African Americans, were only accessible by boat and did not receive warnings about the oncoming storm.

Continue reading about the 1893 Sea Islands Hurricane in the New Georgia Encyclopedia.

The 1906 Atlanta Race Riot (featuring Clark Howell and Hoke Smith)

During the 1906 governor’s race, candidates Clark Howell and Hoke Smith used their newspapers to sway public opinion and stoke resentment of African Americans. These sensationalized reports were the catalyst for the Atlanta Race Riot, which swept the city from September 22 to 24. Responding to incendiary newspaper headlines, thousands of white men gathered downtown and the mob turned violent, killing dozens of Black Atlantans and destroying many Black-owned businesses.

Continue reading about the 1906 Atlanta Race Riot in the New Georgia Encyclopedia.

1996 Olympics

After competing against some of the world’s most renowned cities, Atlanta won the right to host the 1996 Summer Olympics. The event brought praise and criticism alike to Georgia’s capital. The city revitalized many buildings and pedestrian areas, but international journalists encountered frustrating transit delays. Despite problems with the event—including a fatal bombing at Centennial Olympic Park—many benefits of the games are still visible today, including improved streets, sidewalks, housing, and park space. 

Continue reading about the 1996 Olympics in the New Georgia Encyclopedia.

Cherokee Removal

Between 1838 and 1839, thousands of Cherokees were forced to march from Georgia to present-day Oklahoma, an event later named the “Trail of Tears.” Georgia settlers and political leaders pressured the federal government to take Cherokee lands and relocate the Cherokee to the West. Though Cherokee Principal Chief John Ross and his supporters resisted removal, three opposing Cherokee chiefs secretly met and signed Cherokee lands away to the U.S. government in the Treaty of New Echota. The government used the treaty to seize Cherokee lands and expel the Native population.

Continue reading about Cherokee Removal in the New Georgia Encyclopedia.

Teaching Primary Sources Classroom Activity

Dueling in Georgia

When talking it out was just not enough, dueling provided a deadly alternative to resolving disagreement. During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, dueling was considered a civilized way to handle uncivil matters. Some distinct rules and expectations guided duels and maintained order. Often, duels ended up bringing the parties together so they could discuss the issue and leave without firing a shot. If that did not succeed, there would be blood.

Continue reading about Dueling in Georgia in the New Georgia Encyclopedia.

Georgia Secession Convention of 1861

In 1861 Georgia became the fifth state in the South to hold a secession convention, deciding whether or not to remain a part of the United States. The decision was hotly debated between wealthy southern planters who sought to preserve slavery and many others who wished to stay in the Union. Because of Georgia’s agricultural prosperity and political sway, the state’s secession accelerated the start of the Civil War. The first clash began less than three weeks after Georgia’s decision to secede. 

Continue reading about the Georgia Secession Convention of 1861 in the New Georgia Encyclopedia.

Gold Rush

In 1829, rumors of gold struck northern Georgia, sparking a thirst for adventure and opportunity in working-class white men. Later that year, the region—also known as the Cherokee Nation—became a hotspot for prospectors from across America, each looking to find their own bit of Georgia gold. The intrusion of prospectors came at a high cost,as the hunt became a catalyst for the forced expulsion of the Cherokee people.

Continue reading about the Gold Rush in the New Georgia Encyclopedia.

William Calley Jr. and the My Lai Massacre

One of the most shocking episodes of the Vietnam War was the My Lai Massacre in March 1968. William Calley Jr. was a driving force in the massacre during which U.S. soldiers killed hundreds of unarmed Vietnamese civilians. After the military and Nixon administration attempted to cover up the massacre, an investigative journalist interviewed Calley and published a story about the event. Calley was sentenced to life in prison but served just under four years of house arrest.

Continue reading about the William Calley Jr. and the My Lai Massacre in the New Georgia Encyclopedia.

Yazoo Land Fraud

In the wake of the Revolutionary War, Georgia found the upkeep of its land claims in the west, known as the Yazoo Land, a burdensome venture. Failed attempts to sell the land to speculators, protests by those against selling, and rumors of government corruption caught the attention of U.S. Senator James Jackson, and in 1802 the land was taken over by the federal government. The issue fueled Georgian beliefs in states’ rights over federal rights and contributed to the forced removal of Georgia’s natives in 1838. 

Continue reading about Yazoo Land Fraud in the New Georgia Encyclopedia.

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