Are you interested in Atlanta’s rich history? Are you researching a topic that requires historical photographic evidence? Georgia State University Library’s Special Collections and Archives is home to thousands of historical photos, many of which are hosted in our online Digital Collections.
Georgia State University graduate Jeff Clemmons used our collections when researching his new book Rich’s: A Southern Institution, about the retail dynasty that started in downtown Atlanta and its relationship to civil rights history and John F. Kennedy’s election.
Included below are some of the photos he used (including captions written by Clemmons), as well as photos he was unable to publish for the book that add context to his research. Click on each photo to see it in our Digital Collections and learn more about where it came from, when it was taken and what is depicted.
Percival the Pink Pig glides past The Great Tree in 1980. Copyright: Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
One of the Pink Pig Twins flying above Rich's downtown Atlanta rooftop in 1987. For decades, the monorail delighted children during the holidays. Copyright: Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
In 1960, Rich's refusal to serve blacks, including Martin Luther King Jr., at its segregated café on the Crystal Bridge helped JFK become the thirty-fifth U.S. president.
The uncharacteristically modern seventh and partial eighth floors added to the top of Rich's in the 1930s included an employees' recreational playground, replete with deck chairs and shuffleboard courts.
Clemmons was unable to use the two photos below in his book, but they bear significance to his research on Rich’s. Read the captions (provided by Clemmons) below for their historical context.
Margaret Mitchell on the right and Frank Neely (Rich's General Manager and later president) on the left. From January 2, 1942 when Rich's was celebrating its Diamond Jubilee. Mitchell was unveiling 5 murals Rich's had commissioned for the store done by prominent artists: Witold Gordon, Wilbur Kurtz and John Sitton.
Lonnie King, Marilyn Pryce and Martin Luther King Jr. Behind King is Blondean Orbert-Nelson. These four and others were arrested October 19, 1960, for attempting to be served in Rich's white-only Magnolia Room. The arrest of MLK resulted in his first night in jail.