Civil rights-era issues of Savannah’s leading African American newspaper, the Savannah Tribune, are now available freely online

The Digital Library of Georgia, in partnership with Live Oak Public Libraries, has made the Savannah Tribune (1943 to 1960) available for viewing at the Georgia Historic Newspapers website. The site provides access to these newspapers with full-text searching, browsing by date and title, and is compatible with all current browsers. The newspaper page images can be viewed without the use of plug-ins or additional software downloads. The archive is free and open for public use.

Funding for the digitization of this title was provided by the Georgia Historical Records Advisory Council with funds awarded to the University of Georgia Libraries and the Georgia Archives by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC).

Founded as the Colored Tribune in 1875 and renamed the Savannah Tribune in 1876, the newspaper has served as one of the longest-running African American publications in the South, with a mission “to promote the cause of education, cooperating with all teachers and workers in that cause, and the moral and material advancement of the colored people.” Reporting from Reconstruction through Jim Crow, the paper featured famed Harlem Renaissance writer James Weldon Johnson as a correspondent from the 1920s to the late 1930s and played an instrumental role in the boycott movement that began in the early 20th century and fueled the Civil Rights Movement throughout the 1960s. To this day, the Savannah Tribune stands as one of the most prominent African American newspapers in the country as it continues to serve Chatham County’s African American community. 

Belle Reynoso, the director of information technology, and Linda Bridges, the genealogy/reference librarian at Live Oak Public Libraries say: “We chose the Savannah Tribune because it’s one of Savannah’s most important African American historical resources. The first edition of the paper, which was called the Colored Tribune, was first published in 1875. It was not published from 1878 to 1886 or from 1960 to 1973. The issues chosen for digitization, October 1943 to September 1960, include much of the developing Civil Rights Movement in Georgia and beyond.

View the entire digitized run of the Savannah Tribune

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About the Georgia Historical Records Advisory Council (GHRAC)

The Georgia Historical Records Advisory Council (GHRAC) promotes the educational use of Georgia’s documentary heritage by all its citizens, evaluates and improves the condition of records, encourages statewide planning for preservation and access to Georgia’s historical records, and advises the Board of Regents and the Georgia Archives on issues concerning records. 

Learn more at georgiaarchives.org/ghrac.

About the Live Oak Public Libraries

Established in 1903, the Live Oak Public Libraries are a consortium of sixteen public libraries in the Savannah and the Hinesville-Fort Stewart metropolitan areas of Georgia. These libraries provide excellent, responsive services for residents of Chatham, Effingham, and Liberty counties, and develop programming that enriches people’s lives, supports lifelong learning, and builds and enhances their communities. 

Learn more at liveoakpl.org/about/mission

About the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC)

The National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC), a statutory body affiliated with the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), supports a wide range of activities to preserve, publish, and encourage the use of documentary sources, created in every medium ranging from quill pen to computer, relating to the history of the United States.

Learn more at archives.gov/nhprc/about

Selected images from the collection: 

Image courtesy of Georgia Historic Newspapers
Title : Savannah Tribune, May 20, 1954, page 1
URL : https://gahistoricnewspapers.galileo.usg.edu/lccn/sn84020323/1954-05-20/ed-1/seq-1/
Description: The May 20, 1954 front page of the Savannah Tribune reported on the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision that ruled the segregation of public schools in the United States unconstitutional.
Image Courtesy of Georgia Historic Newspapers
Title : Savannah Tribune, May 25, 1957, page 1
URL : https://gahistoricnewspapers.galileo.usg.edu/lccn/sn84020323/1957-05-25/ed-1/seq-1/
Description: The headline of the May 25, 1957 issue of the Savannah Tribune detailed the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. The event closed with Martin Luther King Jr.’s famed “I Have a Dream” speech.
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Making an Active Historic Church’s History Available Online

The Digital Library of Georgia recently worked with Susan Yarborough to add a collection of documents from Saint Paul’s Church, Augusta, Georgia. Founded in 1750, Saint Paul’s is a parish of the Episcopal Diocese of Georgia and the first church and formal institution established in Augusta. The DLG collection includes church registers from 1820 to 1937, minutes of the Vestry from 1855-1923, early church histories, and miscellaneous documents related to the church and diocese history.

Yarborough, chair of the church’s History Committee, notes that Saint Paul’s is still an active church. “Our archives are part of the church’s daily life and play a role in our governance, building maintenance, and even our worship. At the same time, we have a responsibility to the larger community to make available those resources with historical significance.”

“The earliest entries in the oldest Saint Paul’s register are more than two centuries old. Our historic materials are valuable but also fragile. They’ve held up beautifully because they are not regularly handled. Digitization is the best way to make it possible for historians to examine these precious records.”

“The early church registers record baptisms, confirmations, marriages, and funerals of church members, including enslaved and free people of color. Many history queries we get at Saint Paul’s have to do with genealogy. So having the registers hosted by DLG allows genealogists and family historians to go directly to the source. They can also explore more than one family name at a time. Plus, they have almost unlimited access, which would not be possible otherwise.”

“At Saint Paul’s, we are so pleased that DLG saw the potential of this material and awarded us the subgrant to digitize and host it.  Many local institutions do not have the expertise or funding to make their historical documents widely available. I really appreciate the way DLG simplifies the sub-grant application process. They provide guidance with model applications and on-line coaching, and DLG staff are happy to answer questions by phone or email.”

“Best of all is the satisfaction of knowing that Saint Paul’s materials are now freely available to teachers, students, and public library users. DLG helps bridge the digital divide for those who rely on schools and public libraries for their research needs. It is so important for people’s understanding of their lives and worlds to have access to information about their family and community histories.”

Parish register, 1820-1868 (page 50 of PDF)
St. Paul’s Church of Augusta Collection
Holding Institution: St. Paul’s Church (Augusta, Ga.)
https://dlg.usg.edu/record/spcag_spcagc_spc14

Yarborough has selected Page 122 from the Parish Register of Saint Paul’s Church for 1864 (this is page 50 of the PDF available for Parish register, 1820-1868), which shows the baptismal records for Rose, a daughter born to Cyrus and Mary, the slaves of Mrs. Elizabeth Bowen, who is serving as baptismal sponsor. Two rows below is the baptismal record for Elisa Jane Beard (colored), daughter of Thomas P. and Carolina Beard, who were free persons of color. In 1868, Thomas P. Beard would become the first African American from Augusta to be elected to the Georgia House of Representatives.

Further down the same page is the baptismal record of Col. Archibald Willingham Butt (1864-1912), a military aide to Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and William H. Taft, who died on the Titanic when it sank. He is recorded as having threatened to kill any man who tried to board the lifeboats before the women and children were rescued. Yarborough adds: “That’s probably folklore, but it is a thrilling story.” Circumstantial evidence suggests that Col. Butt was gay. Augusta’s Butt Memorial Bridge, which routes 15th Street over the Augusta Canal, is dedicated to his memory.

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