Heritage Room

Visit the Heritage Room to research genealogy, local & Georgia history, and more!

Heritage Room Hours

  • Wednesday 10:00 a.m. - 8:00 p.m.
  • Thursday 10:00 a.m. - 8:00 p.m.
  • Friday 9:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.
  • Saturday 9:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.
  • Sunday 2:00 - 6:00 p.m.

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Please call (706-613-3650 ext 350) or email the heritage staff (heritageroomref@athenslibrary.org) if you have any questions.

Heritage Room awarded the Common Heritage Grant by the National Endowment for the Humanities

Photo of an African American family developed from a dry plate negative in the ACCL Heritage Room collection.

Dear Heritage Room Friends:

The Athens Clarke County Library Heritage Room has been awarded the Common Heritage Grant by the National Endowment for the Humanities.  Over the next several months, we will be working with partners like First A.M.E. Church, Digital Library of Georgia, and leaders in the Athens African American Community to host educational programing and scanning days.  On scanning days, we will invite members of the community to schedule an appointment to come out and sit with us one-on-one.  We're inviting you to bring the records stored under your beds, in attics and basements, and in the pages of Bibles.

I am a second generation genealogist and public librarian. My father started me on this journey as a young child. I know first-hand how preciously people keep their family photos, letters, bibles, scrapbooks and the like. I know the passion of the hunt to track those records down to discover the puzzle of you. Disproportionately in the African American community, those records are hard to find. The goal of this project is to go out into the African American community of Athens and preserve those family histories. Community members will be able to make appointments to bring their family treasure to one of three locations and we will provide them with starter kits to preserve the physical material.  We'll also scan them and give the families a digital copy and if they will donate a copy of the digital records, we will partner with DLG to upload them so that they are accessible.

The picture above was developed from a dry plate negative in our archival collection. These negatives depict an African American family, which was not very common in the early days of photography. In many cases, when we do find early photographs of African Americans, we don't know much about who they are. My father always used to say that as genealogists and historians, we speak for the dead and that we die our second death not when the last person who knew us dies, but when the last person who knows our name does. This project is going to ensure not only that we preserve the rich history of Athens' African American families, but also that someone always knows their names.

Please stay tuned as we announce these exciting events and please join and support us as we celebrate our Common Heritage.

Rikki M. Chesley
Head of Archives and Special Collections

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