African American Funeral Programs from the Augusta-Richmond County Public Library System Collection Expanded

Funeral service for Mrs. Alberta Holmes, Sunday, December 16, 1990, 2:30 p.m., Mims Grove Baptist Church, [North Augusta, Georgia], Rev. T. Scott, officiating. African American Funeral Programs from the Augusta-Richmond County Public Library System, Digital Library of Georgia



















Jan. 26, 2018

CONTACT: Angela Stanley, 235-7134

ATLANTA — Georgia HomePLACE, the Digital Library of Georgia (DLG), and the Augusta-Richmond County Public Library System are pleased to announce the addition of over 10,000 digitized pages of African American funeral programs to the Augusta Public Library’s Eula M. Ramsey Johnson Memorial Funeral Program Collection.  Spanning 1933-2017 and consisting of over 3,000 programs, the digital collection provides both a rich source of genealogical information and local history about the African American community. Programs are freely available online through the DLG.

The current project more than doubles the total number of programs originally available in the digital collection. In 2009, HomePLACE and the DLG digitized the approximately 1,000 funeral programs available in the Georgia Heritage Room of the Augusta-Richmond County Public Library System. The bulk of the collection was donated in the early 2000s by local historian Gloria Ramsey Lucas. An avid genealogist and former president of the Augusta Genealogical Society, Ms. Lucas is known for her award-winning work, Slave Records of Edgefield County, a compilation which came about during her own search for enslaved ancestors. The donated funeral programs belonged to her aunt, Eula M. Ramsey Johnson, who had been collecting them for over 30 years and for whom the collection is named.

“Family history researchers are familiar with common vital records rich in genealogical data–such as birth, marriage and death certificates–and frequently exhaust these resources in their ancestral search,” says HomePLACE Director Angela Stanley. “Though often difficult to find, funeral programs can provide critical information about a person’s relationships, character, community ties and social prominence that coroner’s reports and death certificates cannot. These context clues become all the more precious when we consider that genealogists researching African American lineage are frequently told the work cannot be done. Yet what we often find is that when the right records come to light, the people behind them do, too.”

A majority of the programs are from churches in Augusta, Georgia and the surrounding area, with a few outliers in other states such as New York and Florida. The programs typically contain a photograph of the deceased, an obituary, a list of surviving relatives, and the order of service. The collection provides extensive genealogical information about the deceased, including birth and death dates, maiden names, names of relatives, past residences and place of burial. Many of the people included in this collection were prominent in their communities and involved locally in the struggle for civil rights. In 2010, the collection was honored with a Georgia Historical Records Advisory Board Award for Excellence in Documenting Georgia’s History.

Says Georgia Heritage Room Librarian Tina Monaco, “This award-winning collection has truly been, from its inception, a community-driven endeavor.  The digital collection offers a much-needed resource to those researching African-American family and social history.”

Funding for this project was provided by Georgia HomePLACE, a unit of the Georgia Public Library Service. The new collection was made possible through a partnership between Georgia HomePLACE, the Digital Library of Georgia and the Augusta-Richmond County Public Library System in Augusta, Georgia.

Georgia HomePLACE is a project of the Georgia Public Library Service (GPLS) that encourages public libraries and related institutions across the state to participate in the Digital Library of Georgia. HomePLACE offers a highly collaborative model for digitizing primary source collections related to local history and genealogy. HomePLACE is supported with federal Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) funds administered by the Institute of Museum and Library Services through GPLS, a unit of the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia.

Based at the University of Georgia Libraries, the Digital Library of Georgia is a GALILEO initiative that collaborates with Georgia’s libraries, archives, museums and other institutions of education and culture to provide access to key information resources on Georgia history, culture and life. This primary mission is accomplished through the ongoing development, maintenance and preservation of digital collections and online digital library resources. DLG also serves as Georgia’s service hub for the Digital Public Library of America and as the home of the Georgia Newspaper Project, the state’s historic newspaper microfilming project.

Selected images from collection:

Memorializing Valeria LaVerne Reese, Antioch Baptist Church, January 19, 1958, 10:00 a.m., Rev. I. J. Yancy, officiating

Eulogistic services for Mr. Ervin Samuel Bartley, Saturday, June 2, 1973, 2:00 p.m., Bethel A.M.E. Church, St. Matthews, South Carolina, Reverend B. P. Boston, pastor

Funeral service for Mrs. Alberta Holmes, Sunday, December 16, 1990, 2:30 p.m., Mims Grove Baptist Church, [North Augusta, Georgia], Rev. T. Scott, officiating

Celebrating her life and legacy, Margaret Mims Abraham, December 26, 1943-December 4, 2013, Saturday, December 14, 2013, 11:00 a.m., Beulah Grove Baptist Church, 1434 Poplar Street Augusta, Georgia, Reverend Dr. Sam Davis, pastor, officiating



Georgia Public Library Service Releases “Georgia’s Treasures” Guide to Genealogy, History and Culture

The front cover of the newly released genealogy booklet, “Georgia’s Treasures.”

This press release is part of a series of guest posts contributed by our partners at HomePLACE, a project of the Georgia Public Library Service. HomePLACE works with Georgia’s public libraries and related institutions to digitize historical content for inclusion in the Digital Library of Georgia.

Georgia’s Treasures: Exploring Your Genealogy, History and Culture at Public Libraries” is now available at public libraries across the state. This 16-page, full-color booklet showcases the genealogy resources found in numerous public libraries in Georgia.

“As families come together this holiday season, we hope this booklet will inspire future visits to Georgia’s public libraries. Whether visitors are new to uncovering family history or seasoned genealogy researchers, these distinctive collections offer something for everyone,” said State Librarian Julie Walker.

The booklet was inspired by four major public library history and genealogy collections: the Auburn Avenue Research Library on African American Culture and History, part of the Atlanta-Fulton Public Library System; the Ellen Payne Odom Genealogy Library, part of the Moultrie-Colquitt County Library System; the Genealogical and Historical Room and Middle Georgia Archives, located in Macon and part of the Middle Georgia Regional Library System; and the Ladson Genealogy Library, located in Vidalia and part of the Ohoopee Regional Library System.

Combined, these collections offer nearly 185,000 print volumes and 50,000 reels of microfilm of genealogy, local history and culture, as well as hundreds of original archival collections. An additional six libraries in Athens, Augusta, Brunswick, Savannah, Marietta and Washington are noted for their impressive collections, public programs and reference services.

“We are so proud to be featured among all the amazing genealogy collections in Georgia,” said Moultrie-Colquitt County Library Director Holly Phillips. “We hope even more people will be aware, and take advantage, of all the resources we have to offer at the Odom Library. We’re also pleased to be able to help promote other libraries’ materials to further the important mission of genealogical research.”

In addition to physical collections, every public library card holder in the state can access online genealogy tools like HeritageQuest from home through GALILEO – Georgia’s Virtual Library – as well as Ancestry Library Edition at their local library branch. Researchers anywhere also have access to the Virtual Vault, a digital collection of resources from the state library’s sister organization, the Georgia Archives. Links to these resources, as well as to a PDF version of the booklet, can be found here.