Public Programs for 2017

The DeKalb History Center hosts educational programs throughout the year including lunch and learn lectures, tours and symposia. Please check our events page for more information. For programs listed below, please call 404-373-1088 extension 20 for tickets and information or email




Civil War Walking Tour

Join us for a guided Civil War walking tour in downtown Decatur. The hour-long tour begins in the lobby of the Historic DeKalb Courthouse and complements our exhibit, Tears and Curses: A Human Perspective on the Civil War. You will learn about the early history of the county, the effects of the war on the civilian population in DeKalb, the Atlanta campaign, and the Battle of Decatur.

Check back for Spring tours.


History of DeKalb and Decatur Tour

Schedule a tour of the Historic Courthouse for groups of 10 or more. Learn about the early history of DeKalb County beginning with the native people who still occupied the land after the formation of the county. Learn where their trade routes once were and how that influenced the future settlers. Which areas of the county were settled first and what did people do here? When did the population really begin to grow and why? How many enslaved people were here? How was DeKalb affected during the Civil War? How did the courthouse change over time and what was its role in the county? Come and hear this fascinating history!

Coming Soon!


Swanton House and Pioneer Log Cabins Tour

Schedule a tour for your own group of 10 or more people of the DeKalb History Center's historic structures at 720 West Trinity Place in Decatur. Benjamin Swanton was an early settler and businessman in Decatur. His former home is furnished for the mid-nineteenth century and reflects the lifestyle of this middle class family. Hear his story and learn about the early days of DeKalb County and Decatur. Call 404-373-1088, ext 20. (Pictured below - Benjamin Swanton and his granddaughters) Tour given by appointment for groups of 10 or more.


 All tours are $10 for adults, $6 for children (age 6 - 18), under 5 free with an adult

For information call 404-373-1088, extension 20, or




Past Events



Reconstruction in DeKalb County and Atlanta, August 20, 2016

What did the Atlanta area look like after the war? How did people react to the devastation they saw? What were the living conditions in Atlanta and DeKalb? How did people rebuild their communities? The DeKalb History Center offers another in-depth learning opportunity where participants will gain a deeper understanding of the Reconstruction period (1865 – 1877) and its effects on DeKalb County and Atlanta. The featured speaker is Wendy Hamand Venet; a history professor at Georgia State and author of A Changing Wind: Commerce and Conflict in Civil War Atlanta.


The symposium provides a forum for scholarly presentations and a discussion about conditions in DeKalb County and Atlanta after the Civil War. Additional speakers are Dr. Brian Wills (Kennesaw State University), and Dr. Glenn Eskew (Georgia State University).


Professor Venet specializes in nineteenth century U.S. history. She teaches courses on the American Civil War and Reconstruction at GSU. Dr. Venet speaks and writes extensively on the Civil War era and her most recent book isA Changing Wind: Commerce and Conflict in Civil War Atlanta.


Professor Glenn Eskew specializes in the history of the American south. A member of the GSU faculty since 1993, Dr. Eskew has written widely on the subject of the American south and has been recognized and awarded for his scholarship. Beyond GSU's boundaries, Dr. Eskew educates teachers and travels the world lecturing on southern history. His latest book isJohnny Mercer: Southern Songwriter for the World.


Professor Wills is the Director of the Center for the Study of the Civil War Era and Professor of History at KSU, after a long tenure at the University of Virginia's College at Wise. He is the author of numerous works relating to the American Civil War, including The River Was Dyed with Blood: Nathan Bedford Forrest and Fort Pillow.

Advance tickets are $35/$45 (Discount for DHC members).

Tickets are $40/$50 beginning August 16. Lunch is included.  

Saturday, August 20, 10:00 am - 1:30 pm

Historic DeKalb Courthouse, Second Floor




Native Americans of Georgia Bus Tour, May 7, 2016

Travel with an archaeologist to three of the major Native American sites in North Georgia: the Etowah Indian Mounds, New Echota, and the Chief Vann House. At each site you will go on a tour led by an archaeologist or historian to learn about the Mississippian period, the Historic period, and Indian Removal. Stand on top of an Indian Mound overlooking the village plaza, see the stone fishing traps in the Etowah River that were constructed by natives hundreds of years ago, experience the printing of the Cherokee Phoenix newspaper, enter the Cherokee courthouse, and see the home of a Cherokee planter. You will be amazed by Georgia's native cultures.

9:00  Board bus & leave Decatur (meeting site will be announced)

10:00 Tour with archaeologist at Etowah Mounds (Cartersville, GA)

12:00 Arrive at New Echota (Calhoun, GA) and picnic

12:30 Tour New Echota State Historic Site and see demonstrations 

2:30 Tour Chief Vann House State Historic Site (Chatsworth, GA)

5:30 Arrive back in Decatur



DeKalb History Center Symposium

Roots of Friendship: African Americans and Jews in Atlanta, 1900 - 1950

March 5, 2016


10:00    Symposium Moderator - Dr. Charissa Threat, Spelman College


10:15    Ms. Melissa Fay Greene, author

Stronger Together: The African American and Jewish Communities

Greene will focus on neighborhoods that were excluded from the business of raising a new Atlanta after the Civil War. These communities suffered and struggled separately for decades until a few visionary leaders made clear the common cause and encouraged their people to stand together.


11:10    Ms. Sandy Berman, author

Ruminations and Reflections: The Holocaust Survivor’s Experience in Post WWII Atlanta

Berman recounts the Atlanta experiences of holocaust survivors and refugees from Europe. She also discusses their struggles during the years of Jim Crow laws, which enforced local and state segregation, and early signs of resistance that led to the 1960s Civil Rights Movement.


11:40    Ms. Danielle Wiggins, Ph.D. candidate, Emory University

Gradual Resistance: African Americans and Post WWII Life in Atlanta

Wiggins presents the experiences of African American soldiers in Europe, the challenges veteran African American soldiers faced when they returned to Georgia, the Double V campaign, and signs of resistance that led to the 1960s Civil Rights Movement.


12:10 - 1:30    Catered buffet lunch (included in cost of symposium) with panel discussion.

Panel Moderator  -Dr. Jelani Favors, Clayton State University

Panelists:Mr. David Goldwasser,Mr. Herschel Greenblat, Ms. Sylvia Clark, Mr. Roy Nesby(brief presentations on memories of early African American and Jewish communities) Other panelists: Melissa Fay Greene, Sandy Berman, and Danielle Wiggins.

This session will include reflections on the Jewish presence in Atlanta’s African American communities, the African American neighborhoods of Bellwood and Beacon Hill, changes after the assassination of Dr. King, the early Civil Rights Movement, and Jewish perspectives on African Americans’ struggles for rights. Panelists will give short presentations and then take questions.




Civil War Symposium: Life in Atlanta and DeKalb during the War

July 11, 2015


This symposium at the Historic Courthouse in Decatur focuses on events and people in and around DeKalb County and Atlanta during the War. Participants will explore the connections between the big picture of Civil War history and the personal stories and events of this area. Join us for tours, lectures, a panel discussion and a play about the War. See the schedule of events below and register online.

Please note - BOTH van tours are full. Online registration has closed. The cost tomorrow is $60 for walk-ups and does not include the van tour.