Living Atlanta oral history recordings, 1978-1982 (MSS 637)
From 1977-1978 WRFG (Radio Free Georgia Broadcasting Foundation, Inc.) produced a series of fifty half hour radio programs exploring Atlanta history between World War I and World War II. Each program explored prominent topics and events during the period between 1914 and 1948 and was based on oral history interviews of Atlantans who were involved in the events and topics. The programs were composed of excerpts of the interviews connected by music and explanatory narration. During the course of the project, hundreds of Atlantans were interviewed, resulting in close to four hundred hours of taped material. The people interviewed made up a broad cross section of Atlanta society, from maids and textile workers to millionaires.
This oral history project was conducted under the direction of sociologist and WRFG board member, Harlon Joye. The interviews were mainly conducted by E. Bernard West and Clifford M. Kuhn, with some interviews conducted by Marcellus Barksdale, George Mitchell, Linda H. Black, and Adina Back. The project received major grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities. The series was limited to the period between the two World Wars in the belief that these years constituted a watershed in race relations, politics, economic development, and other aspects of Atlanta's history. The series sought to portray the complexities of life in a segregated city, and how, during the seemingly static years of segregation, changes were taking place that would influence the dramatic transformations of the 1950s and the 1960s. The Living Atlanta programs were broadcast in 1978-1979 and again in 1981-1982 to widespread popular and critical acclaim.
The interviews in this collection cover a broad array of topics relevant to the history of Atlanta between World War I and World War II. Prominent subjects include race relations, segregation, popular music, baseball, neighborhoods, the Jewish community, police, healthcare, and education. Major events that are covered include the Great Fire of 1917, the 1906 Race Riot, and the 1916 Streetcar Strike. The Atlantans interviewed represent a broad cross section of society, including streetcar workers, musicians, professors, politicians, police chiefs, school teachers, railroad executives, and sports figures.
The Living Atlanta oral history recordings contain 540 audio recordings, 249 of which are digitized and available on this database.
To access the rest of the recordings, visit the Kenan Research Center located at 130 West Paces Ferry Road, Atlanta, Georgia 30305. Our hours of operation are 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM, Wednesday – Saturday. You may contact us by calling 404.814.4040 or emailing at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Digitization of this collection is made possible in part by a grant from the Digital Public Library of America.