Photo of sharecroppers cotton picking ca. 1880

Photo of sharecroppers cotton picking ca. 1880

This is a photograph of African-American cotton pickers in Georgia’s New South economy. Many of these workers lived on the property of white landowners and in many ways acted and lived in the same way as they had in Antebellum Georgia–often in the same slave shacks as their enslaved ancestors. 

African-American cotton pickers from 1880. From the Georgia Historical Society Collection of Stereographs
“Cotton Picking No. 3.” Ca. 1880. From the Georgia Historical Society Collection of Stereographs.

Click here to read the item description in the GHS catalog. 

Newspaper article on the Sam Hose Lynching

Newspaper article on the Sam Hose Lynching

Sam Hose went to jail for killing a white man and attacking his wife in front of her children in 1899 when a white mob took him from his sell to a new location to torture him to death. This mob mutilated Hose’s body while he was tied up, eventually burning him alive while over 2,000 people watched, according to the Atlanta Constitution. Much of this crowd came a long way to see Hose murdered and tortured after hearing that he had attacked a white family. At this point in Georgia, lynching was at an all time high, with its toll at 458 lynchings and only beat by Mississippi’s toll of 538. In 1899, Georgia hit its peak, with 27 lynchings in a year.

Newspaper clipping about the lynching of Sam Hose
Newspaper clipping about Sam Hose published April 27, 1899. From the Digital Library of Georgia and the Calhoun-Gordon County Library Obituary Files.
Newspaper coverage of the Sam Hose lynching in the Athens Weekly Banner. 1899
Newspaper coverage of the Sam Hose lynching in the Athens Weekly Banner. From the Digital Library of Georgia.

Click here to see the PDF of the Obituary

Click here to see the obituary description on the DLG website

Click here to read the PDF of the Atlanta Banner article.

Newspaper coverage of the Leo Frank Trial 1899

Newspaper coverage of the Leo Frank Trial 1899

After Reconstruction ended in Georgia, reports of violence became widespread throughout the state. Georgia ranked second to Mississippi with 458 lynch victims between the end of Reconstruction and the early twentieth century. The number of lynch victims peaked in 1899 when 27 Georgians were killed. Among the more high-profile lynch victims of Georgia was Leo Frank (August 17, 1915), a Jewish man of Atlanta who was convicted of murdering his 15-year-old employee (Mary Phagan). Leo Frank was raised in New York and came to Georgia in the early twentieth century to manage the National Pencil Company. Frank was convicted largely on the testimony of Jim Conley, an African-American janitor working at the factory. After a series of failed appeals, including one to the U.S. Supreme Court, Frank’s lawyers appealed to Governor John. M. Slaton. After reviewing the case, Slaton commuted Frank’s sentence to life in prison. Feelings of outrage and anger, likely flared by populist newspaper editor Tom Watson’s writings, came to a head on August 17, 1915, when Leo Frank was hanged by a mob in Marietta, Georgia. For more information go to the New Georgia Encyclopedia page on Leo Frank and his case.

A collection of newspapers articles on the Leo Frank Case from the Georgia Historical Society.
A collection of newspapers articles on the Leo Frank Case from the Georgia Historical Society.

Click here to view the PDF of the articles

“The South and Her Problems” by Henry Grady

“The South and Her Problems” by Henry Grady

Henry Grady was one of the most celebrated and prominent figures in “New South” Georgia. Grady promoted the ideas of the “New South” as editor of the Atlanta Constitution and helped organize the first International Cotton Exposition in 1881.

“The South and Her Problems" is a speech by Henry Grady, given on October 26, 1887.
“The South and her Problems” by Henry Grady. From the Georgia Historical Society Manuscript Collection.

Click here to read the full PDF

“The Atlanta Compromise” by Booker T. Washington 1895

“The Atlanta Compromise” by Booker T. Washington 1895

Booker T. Washington’s “Atlanta Compromise Speech” is considered one of the most important speeches in American history. The speech was given at the opening of the Cotton Sates and International Exposition in Atlanta, Georgia on September 18, 1895. Throughout his life, Washington promoted vocational education and labor instead of agitation for social equality.

"Atlanta Compromise." by Booker T. Washington 1895
“Atlanta Compromise.” by Booker T. Washington 1895. Library of Congress Online Exhibits.

Listen to the Speech Below:

Click here to view speech text and audio on the Library of Congress website

Click here to view the full speech in a PDF 

Click here for more teaching resources from LOC on Washington’s Speech

Excerpts from Official Guide to the Cotton States and International Exposition.

Excerpts from Official Guide to the Cotton States and International Exposition.

Housed in the rare book collection of the Georgia Historical Society, this guide was used by attendees of the 1895 Cotton States and International Exposition in Atlanta, Georgia. The guidebook includes an introduction to the organization and purpose of the exhibit, a description of each exhibit, general information on Atlanta for visitors, and advertisements from local businesses and organizations. This primary source set includes selected pages from the guidebook.

Excerpts from the Official guide to the Cotton States and International Exposition : held at Atlanta, Ga. 1895
Official guide to the Cotton States and International Exposition : held at Atlanta, Ga., U.S.A., September 18 to December 31, 1895 / compiled by P.S. Dodge. From the Georgia Historical Society Rare Book Collection. T427.A1 C85 1895

Click here to read the PDF of the Guide

From Darkness to Light, Dedicated to the Atlanta Exposition, 1905

From Darkness to Light, Dedicated to the Atlanta Exposition, 1905

This print dedicated to the Atlanta Exposition gives a visual representation of the “New South.” Atlanta held multiple cotton expositions in order to revamp Georgia’s economy after the war. Henry Grady was on of the leading promoters of these expositions, as he wrote in “The South and Her Struggles.” 

From Darkness to Light. Dedicated to the Atlanta Exposition
“From Darkness to Light.” Hamilton, Grant E. L1979-40_12, 19th and Early 20th Century Labor Prints, Southern Labor Archives. Special Collections and Archives, Georgia State University.

“From Darkness to Light.” Hamilton, Grant E. L1979-40_12, 19th and Early 20th Century Labor Prints, Southern Labor Archives. Special Collections and Archives, Georgia State University.

Text At the Bottom Reads of the Image Reads:

FROM DARKNESS TO LIGHT.
DEDICATED TO THE ATLANTA EXPOSITION.
Hail, splendid South ! from out the ruins rising.
In morning’s glory from the night of war.
Courage survives, all rancor’s past despising,
And wounds received in honor leave no scar.
The New South, that was Grady’s fair ideal,
Stands now, through enterprise and genius, real.

Click here to view the item description on the Georgia State University Collection. 

Ida B. Wells-Barnett “Lynch Law in Georgia”

Ida B. Wells-Barnett “Lynch Law in Georgia”

“Lynch Law in Georgia” was published by the Colored Citizens of Chicago in 1882. Ida B. Wells was part of the Great Migration movement, in which African-Americans moved North in large numbers, looking for equality and opportunity outside of the South. Yet Wells did not cut ties with the South and continued to work toward justice for black Southerners even after she left. 

Ida B Wells' Lynch law in Georgia
“Lynch law in Georgia: a six-weeks’ record in the center of southern civilization, as faithfully chronicled by the “Atlanta journal” and the “Atlanta constitution”: also the full report of Louis P. Le Vin, the Chicago detective sent to investigate the burning of Samuel Hose, the torture and hanging of Elijah Strickland, the colored preacher, and the lynching of nine men for alleged arson” By Ida B. Wells. [Chicago: This pamphlet is circulated by Chicago colored citizens, 1899]. From the Library of Congress. https://www.loc.gov/item/91898209/
Click here to view the Library of Congress Item Detail, PDF, and Transcript of the Journal.

Portrait of Mathilda (or Josephine) Beasley

Portrait of Mathilda (or Josephine) Beasley

This source is particularly interesting, because it demonstrates the complications of archival research. This image, originally believed to be a portrait of Matilda Beasley, manager of the Sacred Heart Orphanage. Beasley was born enslaved, became free, and moved to Savannah, where she became a teacher to enslaved children, got married to a free black man, and led a devoutly Catholic life. Beasley is extremely famous in Savannah history, yet the woman in the picture is most likely of Josephine Beasley, wife of Abram Beasley who was a child of Mathilda’s husband. Based on the style of clothing and hair the image is thought to be circa 1890, when Matilda would have been 71 years old. 

Photograph of either Mathilda or Josephine Beasley
Mathilda Beasley or Josephine Beasley. From the Georgia Historical Society Collection of Photographs, 1870-1960 – Print, Photographic

Click here to read more about Mathilda Beasley

Slave Cabins on St. Catherine’s Island

Slave Cabins on St. Catherine’s Island

Between 1883 and 1892, photographer William E. Wilson documented the lives of sharecroppers and day-to-day life in Georgia through his photography. Wilson made his living doing portraits but he had a passion for documentary photography. This type of photography focuses on capturing the everyday. Unlike a posed portrait, these photographs show a more unstaged view of life in the Savannah area during the late 1880s and early 1890s.

Former slaves in front of former slave cabins on St. Catherines Island, Georgia. Photograph taken between 1883 and 1892 by William E. Wilson
Former slaves in front of former slave cabins on St. Catherines Island, Georgia. Photograph taken between 1883 and 1892 by William E. Wilson. Courtesy of the Georgia Historical Society.