Oral History- 2000 to 2019

Oral histories are a way of collecting and preserving the past through interviews with people, communities, and participants in past events. Memories are shared, recorded, and placed in the archives.


We are working to transcribe the interviews- if the title appears in a different color, you may click on the title and read the transcription. A word index is available for some of the presentations (use Ctrl +F on your keyboard to search for key words). Otherwise, you may view the presentation(s) in the archives reading room.


Some of the following presentations contain language that may be considered offensive; but solely in the interest of historic preservation, the DeKalb History Center has transcribed each presentation as accurately as possible. Otherwise, the presentations and remarks therein are in no way a reflection of the mission and values of the DeKalb History Center, its employees, and its agents. DeKalb History Center holds no responsibility regarding the accuracy of the information presented, told from individual memories and experiences.


2010.26 “The Unveiling”:African American Legacy Markers in Candler Park, Atlanta, GA. A Project of the Old Stone Church Early Edgewood-Candler Park BiRacial History Project, 2010.

2010.26.1 “Undying Faith”:Antioch East Baptist Church Elders Return to Old Stone Church after 55 year absence. A Project of the Old Stone Church Early Edgewood-Candler Park BiRacial History Project, 2007.

2012.3.126 Decatur Schools superintendents: Renfroe, Simmons, Griffith, Love, December 2001

2012.3.127 Decatur Federal, January 2002- Panel: John Warren, Attorney, George Carley, Attorney, Walter McCurdy, Jr., Pat Patterson, Employee, Walt Grace, Attorney; George Carley describes original Decatur Building and Loan and the Decatur Federal Savings Assn.; Describes the company and its position in the community; Pat Patterson – when it began; Loan officer Charlie Howard; President Roy Blount, Sarah Gibbs, Jim Anderson; Receptionist Bessie Williams; 3 different locations; Walter McCurdy on the Masonic Temple building; 1962 Sun Trust building; History of McCurdy-Candler farm as relates to Decatur Federal; Meeting Robin Harris in 1948; Walter Grace started in 1969; Christmas party anecdote; George Carley tells about playing dice; First branch banks by Pat Patterson; Decatur Federal Promotions; The Katie Doll to open an account, savings bug, beach towels, t-shirts; Carley, McCurdy, Grace and Warner remember Robin Harris and politics; The Sky rooms and the Executive Club remembered; George Carley and the philosophy of Decatur Federal as to foreclosures; Stories about Julius McCurdy; Opening of the Decatur Federal Building; About Bob McMahon; Closing remarks by Sue Ellen Owens


2012.3.128 Glennwood School, February 2002– Panel of Principal, teacher and students- Wanita Nail-teacher in the 1940s, Joyce Paris-4th grade teacher 1956-1964, and principal 1964-1986, Della Marie Cowan – student in the 1920s, Betty Thompson Worley (sp?) Student in the 1940s, Moderator Sue Ellen Owens; About the Glennwood school building with oiled wooden floors, classrooms only, no auditorium, sheetrock, tile; Updating under Dr. Renfroe and change in desks; No circle road in front, only main building; What the Decatur community was like, walking to Elkins Pharmacy, the Decatur street car and teaching the children of the children illustrates the stability; Beacon School closed and children were bussed to Glennwood; Feeling safe in the community, walking; Some rules of discipline, students brought their lunch, teachers in total control, parental and faculty support, high expectations; Different school superintendents; School board was supportive and Lamar Ferguson, music instructor; About students, stories, personalities, patriotism during WWII; Parental involvement, grade mothers, carnival and Maypole dances, PTA; Home visits by the teachers, parents involvement; Even in the 1950s had a diversified student body; Grades 1-7 in 1950s, and 8-12 were high school; building burned in the early 1960s; In late 1960s moved 5th and 6th grades to Beacon, 7th and 8th to Renfroe, 1-4 was kindergarten; Decatur Junior High – 7, 8, 9th pre-segregation; Important subjects like manners; All subjects were important; Grading system, S, N, U vs numerical system, comments era, then A, B, F, etc.; Other support resources, no library, library was at City Hall.  In the 1960s there came a media center, music program and physical education; Field trips, on the train to Lithonia, Stone Mountain, and fire drills, open-out doors; Assemblies out front and the march into the school, school patrols, Halloween carnivals, Christmas programs; The day after Pearl Harbor, saving tin cans for the war effort; Greatest accomplishment as a teacher/student; Anecdotes by Dr. Renfroe


2012.3.130 Richard Sams on Civil War in DeKalb, July 2002– DeKalb County’s Civil War dead compared with the tragedy of 9/11/2001; Why Atlanta? Impact of the railroad was to divide America (video does not focus on visual aids (transparencies); Johnston’s and Sherman’s strategies in the campaign for Atlanta; Johnston ordered retreat then cut off Sherman’s extended supply line; Sherman followed Johnston to Atlanta; Sherman’s movements from across the Chattahoochee River through DeKalb County, the crossings and routes; Crossing the river, the soldiers life in a lull; Reference to the cyclorama’s painting; Sherman’s headquarters, 19 July, as sketched by a war correspondent; Johnston is relieved by Hood on the 17th; Closing the gap and the battle of Peachtree Creek; Battle for the Georgia railroad, the Battle of Atlanta on 22 July, 1864; Wheeler’s recapture of Decatur on the morning of the 22nd; Tragic day for the soldiers, 6,000 dead, disruption for the civilians and for slaves; Appomattox and the end of the war; DeKalb needed to rebuild and how they did it


2012.3.131 DeKalb’s Rural Roots, September 2002– Clyde Sheppard on Central DeKalb; Truck farming and route through Virginia Highlands to Little Five Points; A&P grocery (1st one, approximately 1920); Fishburne School; Druid Hills; Great Depression and work programs and Druid Hills athletic field; Sheppard Construction; Toco Hills; Sage Hill; Harold Johnson on southern DeKalb; Southwest DeKalb school (approximately 1928); Turner family; South River Academy (approximately 1890); High school football; WPA; School at Panthersville; FFA; Dairy business; Covered bridge on 155 to Henry County; Dr. Ansley and Ansley family; Honor farm; Pasteurization; Gladden Dairy; Dr. Henderson (wrote unpublished history of the dairy industry in GA); Eckols grocery; Pat Mathis on southern DeKalb; Mathis Dairy; WPA; Rainbow Drive; Honor farm and bootleggers; Judge Oscar Mitchell; Cookie Mathis; Fairgrounds; Dave Chesnut on northern DeKalb; Chamblee High School and Dec. 7, 1941 fire; WO Pierce Dairy; I-85; PE Pierce Dairy; Morris Dairy; Hilltop Dairy; Agriculture education in county schools; Ms. Tully Smith; Pelfrey’s Mill


2012.3.132 Nelms and Sams families, March 10, 2003– Edward and Wallace Nelms and Marvin and Richard Sams with Wilma Hipps; How both families came to DeKalb; Wallace Nelms – maternal grandmother married Richard Stokes from Eufala, AL; Will Nelms cut cord wood to purchase land, 50 acres, after coming from South Carolina, grandparents were slaves; Richard Sams came after Civil War and settled at Sams Crossing in Decatur; Came from South Carolina; J.A. Sams worked for railroad; How did the families connect?  Edward Nelms, doing yard work, leaf mold for garden, got acquainted that way; Mr. Sams and Samhill, their mountain cottage…had us work for them at Samhill; Leaned to swim at Lake Blue Ridge with the Sams; Wallace Nelms, his relationship with the Sams family-came to play with Ed and Dick; Walking to school in the 1940s (the colored school); Richard Sams, an anecdote at Samhill; What do you remember most about being together at Samhill? Marion Sams – Edward on the aquaplane (sp?), playing in the mud, old boats, other ventures; Cotton farming along Clairmont at Toco Hills on the Arnold’s farm in 1940s; Richard Sams on the rest of the Nelms family; Edward’s story and how he remembers the painter, Albert Hodges, Harriet Green, Cliff Nelms; The war years, 1940-1946; Richard Sams presents Edward’s letter to Mr. Sams; Marion’s war years ASTP discontinued except V12; Went overseas to Europe, Battle of the Bulge; Druid Hills community; Livestock and the Candler Zoo, victory gardens, cows and sheep as carry-overs from the Depression; Edward Nelms in the war years and military police; Richard remembers air raids; Road conditions and pavement during the 1940s and 1950s; Mt. Zion AME Church and the black community in northern DeKalb County; Leaving during the war years; Wallace – speaks out about he relationship with the Sams family with much emotion and devotion; Richard tells about Harriet Moore Green and the special relations with the “colored”; Edward tells about the old country stores and farms; Hello World store; The Wilsons and the farms in Oak Grove Community; Audience Questions: When Eileen Sams graduated from Agnes Scott; Marion presents the Agnes Scott Students Handbook; Wedding of Augustine “Gus” Sams and Eileen Dodd; Name of the school that the Nelms attended: Avondale High for Negroes; How did the Nelms get around besides walking? Mrs. Nelms did washing for people to earn money.  Doing the wash in the 1940s, Wallace talks about his collection of farm implements; Dick tells about Wallace’s scary stories and Edward being scared by  the “Lights Out” radio program; Richard shows the photo album from Samhill and tells of the trip from Atlanta to Lake Blue Ridge and Samhill; Comment by Joseph Sams Bond; About Mt. Zion Church, the oldest graves; When you are poor, black and have no power…Wallace describes what it was like in the 1940s, voting, etc.; Women’s status in a black family in the 1940s and other conditions of the blacks in rural DeKalb in 1940s; First automobile and selling produce in Druid Hills; Richard describes how his father made the Samhill photo album; Shots of pictures from the album and closing remarks by Sue Ellen Owens

2012.3.133 Mayors and their Cities, March 2003

2012.3.134 Walt Drake on Scott Candler, Sr., April 2003

2012.3.135 Politics of Preservation, May 2003

2012.3.140 John Pruitt and Jerry Crane, top DeKalb news stories

2012.3.141-142 Lunch and Learn Avondale Estates, Terry Martin-Hart, November 17, 2009-2 discs, one audio and a second with photographs used in presentation (also see Program Audio page)

2012.3.143-144 Mt. Zion Church, November 21, 2009; raw footage

2012.3.145 George Rikard, Confederate grave marker dedication, Alston House, October 2001

2012.3.147 Shermantown, May 2000

2012.3.148  History maker award presented to James Mackay, March 10 2002

2012.3.149 Tim Timmons interviews Grace Gober on Tucker in the 1920s, March 18 2002

2012.3.151 DCTV presentation on the historic DeKalb courthouse clock

2012.3.155-161 DeKalb newspapers, April 20, 2008

2012.3.173 Stonehenge and the Venables in Georgia, May 12 2005

2012.3.175 Arbor Montessori Mt. Zion Oral History presentation, May 2006

2012.3.176 This is Atlanta History PBS program, (for research only) 2005

2012.3.177-178 Lunch and Learn; Stone Mountain -Dr. George Coletti, January 2009 (also see Program Audio page)

2012.3.179-180 Lunch and Learn; MAK District – Scott Leith, March 2009 (also see Program Audio page)

2012.3.181 Lunch and Learn; Tucker – Tim Timmons, May 26 2009 (also see Program Audio page)

2012.3.183 Discover Arabia Mountain, includes Cynthia McKinney, Pierre Howard, Max Cleland and others (see 2012.3.258 also)

2012.3.184 Charles Harrison, owner of Robert A. Alston house

2012.3.185 Bobby Burgess

2012.3.186 DeKalb History Center, 3rd Annual Black History Month Celebration, parts 1 and 2, Law and Justice leaders, February 25 2010

2012.3.187 DeKalb History Center, 2nd Annual Black History Month Celebration, parts 1 and 2, raw footage, February 26 2009

2012.3.188 DeKalb History Center, 1st Annual Black History Month Celebration, African American Entrepreneurs, February 2008; Britt Fayssoux, Jerry Crane, Vivian Price and moderator Dr. Keith Hebert

2012.3.189 Robert Winebarger

2012.3.190 Sue Ellen Owens

2012.3.194 African American Schools, featuring Elizabeth Wilson, Narvie Harris, and others

2012.3.195 Mysteries of Oakhurst, family home video

2012.3.196 Max Cleland on Larry King Live (for research only)

2012.3.197 DCTV’s Inside DeKalb, (for research only)

2012.3.198 Max Cleland Strong in Broken Places (for research only)

2012.3.199 2002 State of DeKalb County Address, Vernon Jones, CEO

2012.3.201 Walter McCurdy speech to Northlake Alliance, 2003

2012.3.202 Building a Watershed Alliance (Peavine) (for research only), 2000

2012.3.203 Lonnie Edwards (Asst. Superintendent of DeKalb County Schools), 2000, on Sally Jessy Raphael show (for research only)

2012.3.204 South DeKalb Advisory Committee-Report to the Community on the future development of the DeKalb Medical Center campus at Hillandale (for research only)

2012.3.206- 2003 State of DeKalb County Address, Vernon Jones, CEO; Memorial Tribute DCTV, (for research only)

2012.3.209 DeKalb African American history on DCTV, hosted by Lyn Vaughn and Sue Ellen Owens

2012.3.225 -Oak Grove Elementary living history project, 2003: Interviewees: Marito Culwell, Archivist, Oak Grove Methodist Church; Wallace Nelms, born in Oak Grove, raised there in the 1930s, talks of African American education, interviewed by LaVerne Byas-Smith, Honor Berry, resident and real estate agent, Veronica Wood, assistant food services manager at Oak Grove Elementary, Jane Dunbar, Oak Grove parent, grandparent and volunteer

2012.3.226- A Dream Realized: DeKalb Medical Center at Hillandale

2012.3.227-231 Mt. Zion community oral history project, April and May 2006

2012.3.232 “Wildwoods”, Newt Gingrich family (for research only)

2012.3.235-6 Experiences, Memories and Messages by Eron Miller; African American history, Mereda Johnson interview in two parts (for research only)

2012.3.237 Lunch and Learn; Druid Hills – Richard Sams, July 12 2009 (also see Program Audio page)

2012.3.238, 239, 248- Shermantown interviews by MDF Productions, 2005

2012.3.246 Gordon family-Lunch and Learn, Teri Stewart on the John B. Gordon family of Kirkwood, Ranch house architecture (also see Program Audio page)

2012.3.247 Talking Walls – School Desegregation – Ellen Jones, July 2009; audio only

2012.3.250 A Dramatic Reading of Shermantown, August 27, 2005

2012.3.251 Elizabeth Wilson, History Maker Award, 2006

2012.3.252 DeKalb General Hospital Early Years

2012.3.253 Wilma Hipps on DeKalb Chamber of Commerce (video) (also see 2012.2.357 for audio only)

2012.3.254 Amazing Architects of DeKalb: Edward J. Sayward and Leila Ross Wilburn, November 17, 2005

2012.3.256 Dunwoody: The History and Heritage 1821-2003, for research only- Dunwoody Preservation Trust

2012.3.257 Ben Epps: The Legacy of Georgia’s First Aviator

2012.3.258 Arabia Mountain Heritage Area, 2000; Selected interviewees include Max Cleland, Pierre Howard, Cynthia McKinney and Becky Kelley (see 2012.3.183 also)

2012.3.262 African American Lives – Johnny Waits and the Flat Rock community (for research only) PBS production, 2006

2012.3.267 John Walter Drake on the history of Decatur, Sept 2010 (also see Program Audio page)

2012.3.268 Paul Hudson and Lora Mirza, Atlanta’s Stone Mountain: A Multicultural History, January 2011 (also see Program Audio page)

2012.3.269 DHC 4th Annual Black History Month celebration, February 24, 2011; DeKalb’s military heroes: Arthur Anderson, Reverend Thomas N. Bristow, Sr., James W. Gray and Ray J. Jones, Jr.

2012.3.272 Tucker High School Veterans Day program, November 11, 2010: Harold Dye, Robert Spooner, William Carlysle, John Rice, Lt. Col. James Williams

2012.3.273 Ken Thomas on Presidential visits to the area, March 15, 2011; Lunch and Learn (also see Program Audio page)

2012.3.275 Civil War: The Battle for Georgia, (for research only, no duplication)

2012.3.276 Arthur Raper at Agnes Scott College by Clifford Kuhn; Lunch and Learn (also see Program Audio page)

2012.3.277 Decatur Civic Chorus: 50 years and still singing, (for research only)

2012.3.278 1937 16mm film of congregation of Pattillo Methodist Church leaving their Oakhurst sanctuary

2012.3.321 Gussie Brown and daughter Christine on Scottdale, March 2007: Mill life, Hamilton High School, Tobie Grant, Jim  Cherry, Scottdale daycare center

2012.3.355 Betty Scott Noble and her father Philip Noble on living in the Scott Cooper House in Decatur, now site of the Rec Center

2012.3.356 Clarence Scott, February 2012

2012.3.357 Wilma Grant Hipps on the DeKalb Chamber of Commerce (audio only) (also see 2012.3.253 for video)

2012.3.358 100 year-old resident Carmon Elliott, February 2012

2012.3.390 Mary Brown Bullock, Agnes Scott, February 2012

2012.3.391 Kelly Thrasher and Kathy Bruce on Waffle House, February 2012

2012.3.392 Susan Weisman Shields, Honor Farm in Panthersville, January 2012

2012.3.393 David Scott, Scottdale Mills and Agnes Scott college, February 2012

2012.3.394 Kirkwood Lunch and Learn with Joe Alcock (also see Program Audio page)

2012.3.396 Lunch and Learn by former Decatur mayor Elizabeth Wilson on the Beacon Hill African American area of Decatur (also see Program Audio page)

2012.3.397 DHC 5th Annual Black History Month Celebration, February 2012

2012.3.398 Lunch and Learn on 20th Century Interiors given by Beth Shorthouse and David Ramsey, September 2011 (also see Program Audio page)

2012.3.400 Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area, Lunch and Learn, March 2012; Mera Cardenas (also see Program Audio page)

2012.3.401 Judge Clarence Seeliger, September 2012

2012.3.402 6th Annual Black History Month Celebration at DeKalb History Center- Living Legends, February 23, 2013

2012.3.403 Understanding Local Historic Districts: Why is That House Historic?, Speakers Leigh Burns & Richard Laub; July 2012

2012.3.404 The Atlanta Nine and Desegregation, July 16, 2013

DeKalb Lawyers Association, March 24, 2005- “Minority Bar in the Courthouse”

Claudia Stucke- July 2018; Segregation, desegregation

Iris H-(audio) July 2018; Desegregation and related topics

Teri Stewart; Teri S- (audio) July 2018 Desegregation, integration; workers and LGBTQ rights

Carole Midgette audio February 2019; legacy of former DeKalb History Center director Gordon Midgette

2019.19 Pat Davis-Morris- October 2019; first woman, first African American on Clarkston city council, teaching career, family

2019.32 Charles Turner; Charles Turner audio December 2018; growing up in Georgia; desegregation, integration; Vietnam War; Decatur, Beacon Elementary, Thankful Baptist; Civil rights

2019.33 Bob Joyner; Bob Joyner audioOctober 2019; Dunwoody, Ben Hill, Georgia Tech, Treasury, bootlegging, Postal Telegraph Company