Historical Savannah city maps available online

The Digital Library of Georgia is pleased to announce the availability of three new historical map collections from the City of Savannah Municipal Archives:

  •     Record Series 3121-007, Engineering Department – General Maps, 1798-1961, no date,

https://dlg.usg.edu/collection/gsg_edgm, which contains maps from 1798 to 1961 that illustrate Savannah property holdings, as well as land subdivision for City and private development. The maps also record property lines, right-of-ways, water and sewer lines, and street openings. Many maps include the names of property owners.

  •     Record Series 3121-019, Savannah Cadastral Survey – Ward Survey Maps, 1939-1940,

https://dlg.usg.edu/collection/gsg_scswsm. This collection includes survey maps of Savannah’s wards prepared in 1939 and 1940 by the Works Progress Administration (WPA) as part of the three-year, $65,000 WPA Savannah Cadastral Survey project. The city of Savannah is laid out in a system of wards, or blocks of land. The Cadastral Survey included all wards within the City’s corporate limits at the time. On May 9, 1940, Major H. U. Wallace, District WPA Engineer, presented Mayor Thomas Gamble with the Ward Survey Maps at City Hall. The survey was originally intended for use of the local tax assessors, but it has also proved useful for planning public utilities and improvements, determining property lines, and tracing the history of buildings and properties.

  •     Record Series 3121-020, Engineering Department – Major Subdivision Maps, 1871-1972, no date, https://dlg.usg.edu/collection/gsg_edmsm, which includes 249 maps of Savannah neighborhoods and subdivisions submitted to the City of Savannah Engineering Department for review and approval. The maps were prepared by a variety of surveyors and engineers, representing the City of Savannah, Chatham County, and private engineering and architectural firms. Many of the maps are copies or tracings submitted to the Engineering Department. Some of the maps include approval information by the City Engineer, County Engineer, Chatham-Savannah Metropolitan Planning Commission and/or the Mayor and Aldermen of the City of Savannah.

These historical maps are a rich resource documenting the development of Savannah’s town plan, wards, and neighborhoods through the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries. Within the General Maps collection, the City of Savannah Municipal Archives has included a very early 1798 township map that documents the extension of the “Oglethorpe Plan” outside of the town limits to encompass the garden and farm lots. This, along with the progression of maps throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, show how Savannah’s unique plan was executed and evolved. The maps can be studied by urban planners, historians, and preservationists, and provide important insight for people making planning decisions today. The City of Savannah Municipal Archives has seen a dramatic increase in researcher interest in Savannah’s 20th century development, including citizens and community groups trying to document their neighborhoods, as well as historians researching the loss and preservation of Savannah’s infrastructure and built environment and how that fits in to a national context. The inclusion of the mid-20th century Ward Survey Maps provides a valuable point-in-time snapshot of Savannah before the preservation movement began.

Luciana Spracher, director of the City of Savannah Municipal Archives, notes: “The maps are regularly used by students (K-12 and college), historians, homeowners, citizens/residents, City staff, etc., and online access will surely increase this use and expand our geographical reach to those outside of Savannah who cannot physically come in to City Hall. We’ve also recently seen an increase in the ways in which people are using historical records, not just for traditional academic works, but for art applications and digital humanities projects. We hope that greater access to our records, and to a younger audience that may not access them through traditional onsite visits, will encourage new interactions with archives and new innovative projects.”

About the City of Savannah Municipal Archives

The City of Savannah Municipal Archives collects, manages, preserves, and makes accessible records documenting the City of Savannah’s history; administers the records management program and the City Records Center to increase the efficiency of City agencies; and shares the City’s history with City employees, citizens and visitors through outreach activities. The Municipal Archives services reference requests from researchers and the general public which relate to archival and historical City records under its administration in the City Records Center, and shares the City’s history through a variety of public outreach activities, including tours of City Hall, permanent and rotating exhibits, and special programs.

About the Digital Library of Georgia

Based at the University of Georgia Libraries, the Digital Library of Georgia https://dlg.usg.edu 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.

Featured image:  Boundaries of Brownsville, south of and adjoining the City of Savannah Geo. [Bounded on the] east by land of G. M. Willis; west by Bulloch Street; north by land of Minis; south by land of G. W. Anderson. Included Garden Lots 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12 subdivided to 136 building lots.

Record Series 3121-020, Engineering Department – Major Subdivision Maps, 1871-1972, no date

City of Savannah Municipal Archives

http://dlg.galileo.usg.edu/id:gsg_edmsm_edmsm-015-a

This project was made possible through DLG’s Subgranting Program

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Civic Magazine collection from City of Savannah, Research Library and Municipal Archives

Savannah mayor Floyd Adams, Jr. hands out lunches at a summer lunch program for children.  Civic Magazine, 2002 Civic Magazine collection, Savannah (Ga.). Research Library and Municipal Archives
Savannah mayor Floyd Adams, Jr. hands out lunches at a summer lunch program for children.
Civic Magazine, 2002. Civic Magazine collection, Savannah (Ga.). Research Library and Municipal Archives

The DLG is pleased to announce the availability of the Civic Magazine collection from our partners at the City of Savannah, Research Library and Municipal Archives.  The collection is available at: http://dlg.galileo.usg.edu/CollectionsA-Z/civic_search.html

According to Luciana Spracher, the library and archives director for the City of Savannah, Research Library and Municipal Archives, “Civic Magazine was one of the earliest programs of the City of Savannah’s Government Channel 8, the city’s cable access channel now called SGTV 8, run by the City of Savannah’s Public Information Office (PIO).  The PIO office was established in 1987 “in an effort to improve communications between City Hall and the taxpayers,’ and help “the public better understand city programs and operations’ (taken from Charles Craig, “Former News Anchor City’s First PR Officer,” Savannah Morning News, 1987).  Civic Magazine helped the city government reach out and communicate to Savannah’s citizens in new ways, and connect with new audiences.” She notes:  “I think the collection is important overall because it reflects the City of Savannah’s engagement with the community, as well as the unique personalities of our citizens and neighborhoods, something that is not often reflected in more traditional, paper-based records.”

Online access to this collection is exciting because, according to Spracher, “when Civic Magazine was produced (from 1998-2002), U-Matic ¾” tapes were in use by the television and news industry.  Now in 2016 everything is digital and we no longer had the equipment to play the tapes back for researchers or even staff.  So even though the tapes were inventoried based on labeling and PIO inventories and technically available to the public, we couldn’t access the content.”  She notes “Having the old U-Matic tapes digitized and made available online through the Digital Library of Georgia will open up this collection to our citizens, researchers, and City staff for the first time for true use.  In fact, I will be discovering most of this collection as a first-time user, and I can’t wait!”

The collection focuses a great deal on city growth and municipal government activities in Savannah at the end of the twentieth century.  When asked if this period of time was especially busy for Savannah, Spracher says:  “I think we could say that any period of time in city government was busy for its era with either rapid growth or major challenges that we are trying to overcome.  The difference here is that in the late twentieth century, for the first time, the City is starting to capture these events through video so we have a more dynamic record of what is going on than just the static approval of a program or the paper invitation to the ribbon cutting, but the actual final event that was the culmination of all the hard work.  It helps bring history to life in a different way when we can almost be there by watching and listening to it.”

The city of Savannah is celebrating the twentieth anniversary of Olympic yachting events being held in Savannah. Spracher is particularly interested in looking at all the material in the collection that is related to the 1996 Olympics. She notes: “We had several important Olympic events here in the community as part of the Olympics, including the arrival of the Olympic flag in 1992, the Olympic Torch Relay in 1996, and major community beautification projects leading up to the races.”

We hope that you take the time to view the resources in this new collection and witness the many ways the city government of Savannah has been involved with its community.

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