Atlanta History Center Receives National Archives Grant For Historical Records Project
The National Archives has awarded a grant to the Atlanta History Center to digitize over 80,000 documents related to the Civil War. The History Center and its partners, including the Digital Library of Georgia, Hargrett Library at the University of Georgia, and the Georgia Historical Society will provide online access to letters, diaries, military records, photographs and maps of the Civil War beginning late 2012 through 2014 in time for the Georgia Civil War Sesquicentennial! Learn more.
Behind the Scenes Look at the Top Floor of Swan House -
When people come visit the Swan House, many see the stairwell leading to the third floor and wonder what’s up there. Well, here’s the answer! The third floor of Swan House was originally intended to be used as living quarters for the house staff (as well as for storage). The family possibly provided two bedrooms and one restroom for the female servants (the male servants may have lived in the Swan Coach House nearby). After you walk upstairs, the first room on the left is the smaller of two main living areas. It has a sink, radiator, and two closets. Family oral history and other records support this being a bedroom and, for some time, a workroom for sewing or ironing. Further down the hall is a large room with an annunciator board for the call system. Each room in the house has a call button that family members would use to call servants. When a family member needed something they pushed their call button and it alerted servants on the third floor and those working in the butler’s pantry or kitchen. The large room has an adjacent restroom with sink, toilet, and a tub (with a shower extension). Records show the large room was used as a bedroom, but we’re still researching how it was furnished and how many people lived there. The 1930 Census suggests that 7 servants spent the majority of their time living on the Inman property. The AHC is currently working on a furnishing plan that will interpret the rooms as they likely looked in 1930.
AHC Acquires Rare Civil War Drum
A lot of people ask us why we don’t have more artifacts used by African American soldiers in our Civil War exhibit, Turning Point: The American Civil War. Well, the truth is that African American troops used the same equipment as white troops, and we can’t really tell the difference unless a soldier labeled his equipment. That’s what makes this drum so special. It’s one of only three surviving examples known to have been used by African American soldiers in the Civil War. How do we know this? Well…
Inscribed onto its brass body is the name of Thomas Baker, an eighteen-year-old farm laborer from Xenia, Ohio. Records show that Baker enlisted in the 55th Massachusetts Infantry in 1863. The 55th was the sister regiment of the more famous 54th Massachusetts which was portrayed in the movie Glory. These two regiments were among the very first African American military units recruited in the northern states after the Emancipation Proclamation. The young drummer fought with the 55th in the 1864 Battles of Olustee, Florida, and Honey Hill, South Carolina. Both were costly Union defeats, and Baker was lucky to survive.
Today we are fortunate to be able to preserve and exhibit his drum, Baker’s story, and the stories of 180,000 other African Americans who fought with the Union Army.
To see this artifact in person, visit Turning Point: The American Civil War at the Atlanta History Center.