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Where the deer and the mummies play

The evolution of the Emory museum toward its current eminence had no missing links, thanks to the diligence of biologist Woolford B. Baker. When Baker took up the work of part-time director of the museum in 1954, he had already enjoyed more than three decades on the faculty. He would have nearly another three decades in his new role.

One story from the Baker era comes from an Emory alumna, whom I met through email thanks to Elizabeth Hornor, the Ingram Senior Director of Education at the museum. Sheramy Bundrick graduated from Emory College in 1992 with a BA in art history, then stayed to earn MA and PhD degrees and now teaches art history at the University of South Florida. Here’s the story in her own words:

“[In] 1981 . . . I was in sixth grade. My dad took me to the museum to see the mummies after we saw Raiders of the Lost Ark . . . and I became totally obsessed with ancient Egypt. Dr. Baker was there and . . . took us to his office, where he pulled this from a desk drawer and gave it to me as a memento of the visit. I think it’s a safe bet that I wanted to go to Emory because of that day.”

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“This” was a square inch of wrapping that Dr. Baker had snipped from one of the mummies. The mummy was, in fact, from the Old Kingdom, the oldest mummy in the Western Hemisphere and one of only six Old Kingdom mummies in museums anywhere. One is in Turin, and the other four are in Egypt. Ours is likely the only one that was a source of souvenirs for school kids.

Finally, here’s where the deer comes into the title of this history, “The Deer and the Pharaoh.” Dr. Baker kept up a steady stream of correspondence with people who thought, with good reason, that the museum would accept nearly anything of interest. For instance, in September 1968, he wrote to a Mrs. Edmund Francis Cook to thank her for her many gifts, including a spittoon, a rolling pin, Korean bridal shoes, Japanese stools, a glove stretcher, a button box with buttons, 29 dolls, and a silver jewelry container “Given to Miss Willie Clover Creagle by Mr. Stephenson of England who built the first dam across the Nile.”

But my favorite of Dr. Baker’s letters is from 1973, to Jeffrey R. Geis of Decatur. Dr. Baker thanks Mr. Geis for the skull of a white tail deer: “I did not have a deer skull but needed one to compare with the goat and the cow which I have on exhibit. If you have any of the leg bones of this deer, I would appreciate them very much.”

During his tenure, Dr. Baker struggled to raise the museum as a priority for the university. In a history that he compiled with geology professor James Lester in 1974, Baker recounted the nomadic existence of the museum after its move from Oxford, first into the theology building; then into a wing of Candler Library in 1926; then into the basement of the Old Theology Building during World War II; then in 1950 to the wooden Annex B; then, in 1955, into the first floor of the Administration Building; then from 1958 to 1972 into the basement of Bishops Hall—a building which itself is now gone.

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Baker’s annual reports to the president tell the story of hope and frustration. After the move into Bishops Hall, the museum mounted its first special exhibition and attracted over three thousand visitors through the year. Seven years later, attendance jumped to 16,355. Emory students made more use of the collections for study, especially the classes of Boone Bowen and Immanuel Ben-Dor, theology faculty members helping to excavate Old Jerusalem. Baker noted that the museum was for many people the first point of contact with the university, and by 1970–71, attendance had risen to nearly 23,000 annually.

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Professors Boone Bowen (left) and Immanuel Ben-Dor examine artifacts from Israel.

Yet the lack of adequate space for storage and exhibitions continued to pose a problem, and the museum now restricted its acquisitions to avoid becoming what Baker called “a cluttered mass.” To make room, the university transferred the Fattig insect collection to the University of Georgia in 1961 and donated duplicate bird skins to the Fernbank Science Center in 1970. Henceforth, the biggest emphasis would be on archaeology and ancient history.

The final report from the Baker years still in the archives, for 1975–76, recommended that the museum be on a par with the university’s libraries and have a central location, with a large exhibition room, space for preparing exhibits, a shop, storage, an auditorium, accessibility, and parking: “A three-story building . . . would be adequate,” says the report. The budget should support a director, an associate director, four curators, a cataloger, clerical staff, a custodian, and programs. It would be a long while before all this materialized.

Next: How a Maytag washing machine led to transformation of the museum.

Gary S. Hauk

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Snakes and Hollywood: Part 3 of the Carlos Museum history

Chapter 3 of this history of the Carlos Museum at Emory opens in 1926, just a decade after Emory established its new campus in Druid Hills. About to launch a major fund-raising campaign to continue its campus building program, Emory also appointed the first full-time director of the museum. He was Perry Wilbur Fattig, and he would continue in that role until his death in 1953.

Forty-five years old, Fattig had taught biology and agriculture here and there, including a stint at the University of Florida, where he met Harvey Cox, the dean of education. Cox was appointed president of Emory in 1920, and six years later he brought this natural scientist to Atlanta as director of the museum.

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Dr. Perry Wilbur Fattig

Despite the literally groundbreaking contributions of Professor Shelton, the Emory Museum remained in the 1920s essentially a natural history collection. As Fattig remarked in a WSB radio interview in 1936, Emory then had 3,000 beetles and what he called a “pretty fair collection of Georgia’s poisonous snakes,” as well as 250 varieties of Georgia birds, 210 species of bird eggs, and an extensive collection of moths and butterflies. Fattig himself would leave the museum “one of the most complete private collections of insects in the entire Southeast.”

During his tenure, the museum established a publication series to produce his scholarly contributions in entomology. He did concede, in that 1936 interview, that “the most interesting exhibit is our Egyptian collection.”

Fattig maintained regular hours Monday through Friday, and for a while, he kept poisonous snakes in cages in the museum to teach visitors how to recognize them. But, says one account, he discontinued this practice “after he received his second and almost fatal bite from one of the copperheads.” The same article called him modest and somewhat shy, and as proof of this it noted that he only reluctantly would demonstrate his ability to “stick pins in himself and through a part of an arm or leg without bleeding or apparent pain. . . He is not a lover of the spectacular and is rarely persuaded to demonstrate this peculiar phenomenon.”

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During the twenty-seven years of his stewardship of the museum, Perry Fattig seems to have established all the requisite qualities for the men and women who would succeed him in building up the museum: a passion for collecting and preserving, an awareness of the value of collections for teaching, and, shall we say, some unique ways of leaving their mark.

New Life for the Museum and the Second Career of Woolford Baker

After Fattig’s death, in 1953, some question arose whether the university had any real need or use for a museum. President Goodrich White appointed a committee to study the matter and make recommendations. When the committee completed their study the next year, fortunately they gave a thumbs-up. At the same time, Charles Howard Candler Sr., the builder of Callanwolde, the oldest son of Asa Candler, and successor to his father as chair of Emory’s board of trustees, gave funds to build the Administration Building, and he suggested that half of the first floor of the building should be set aside for the museum.

As it turned out, the designated space in the Administration Building was too small, and after a brief sojourn there, the collection was moved in 1957 to Bishops Hall, the new home of the theology school. Five thousand square feet in the basement provided adequate room for the museum for the first time. This new lease on life meant that the museum would require another director. President White asked Emory College biology professor Woolford Bales Baker to step into this new role.

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Woolford Baker pointing out curiosities with a branch from one of the many ginkgo trees he planted on the campus.

The choice of a biologist may seem unusual in view of today’s museum, but in retrospect, given the nature of the museum then, so to speak, it made eminent sense. Baker had arrived at Emory to teach biology the same year that Emory College and the Emory museum moved to Druid Hills. After earning his MS degree from Emory in 1920, he continued on the faculty until his retirement in 1961, with the exception of a year at Columbia University, where he earned his PhD degree. Baker was especially keen about the natural resources on the campus, and he became something of a nag to the administration about preserving certain spaces and planting appropriate greenery; the Baker Woodlands behind the museum are named appropriately in his memory. So it was largely as a naturalist that he assumed the role of part-time director of the museum in 1954, a post that he would fill for almost thirty years.

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Woolford Baker (right) examining Middle Eastern pottery with professor of geology James Lester (left) and professor of Old Testament studies Max Miller (center)

Many amusing stories emerge from Dr. Baker’s years at the museum. One comes by way of Hollywood, when John Huston turned Flannery O’Connor’s novel Wise Blood into a movie. Anyone familiar with the movie will recall the moment when its protagonist, Hazel Motes, is dragged by his unwanted sidekick, Enoch Emery, to the museum in the fictional city of Taulkingham. I’m uncertain where the exterior of the museum was filmed, but its Latin inscription evokes from the intellectually challenged Enoch Emery the pronunciation, “muvseevum.”

Enoch Emery can’t contain his excitement at showing Hazel the mummified little man in the museum. As the two interlopers sneak past the sleeping guard, viewers are treated to the best visual archive of what the Emory museum looked like in the Sociology Building of the late 1970s, now Carlos Hall—the Samurai armor on display at the entrance; the cramped arrangement of the display cases; the portable walls with their array of photos, labels, and maps; the general sense of having strolled into someone’s unusually desperate garage sale.

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Scenes from John Huston’s film Wise Blood (1979).

Next Post: Mummies and Raiders of the Lost Ark

Gary S. Hauk

The Deer and the Pharaoh: Part 2

My previous post introduced the history of the museum at Emory University and brought the story to the eve of the replanting of Emory in Atlanta. The second chapter of this history begins when the museum moved with Emory College, in 1919.

To give you a sense of that move, consider that the biology department loaded up all of its instructional equipment in Professor Robert C. Rhodes’s car for the forty-mile drive along the old, two-lane Covington Highway. We can only imagine how the University carted the birds, beetles, and boulders of the museum to their new place in the Theology Building. That building, now called Convocation Hall, was also the academic home of a professor who wrote the first pages of the next chapter of this history.

The front page of the Atlanta Journal for February 11, 1923, carried an article written by the future author of Gone with the Wind, whose byline on that Sunday was Peggy Mitchell. The article recounted the adventures of a kind of Indiana Jones in the Valley of the Kings. “Theology Professor Just Missed Tutankhamen,” the headline proclaimed.

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Indeed, William A. Shelton, one of the first faculty members in Emory’s Candler School of Theology, had gone in 1920 to what was then called the Near East at the invitation of James H. Breasted, the founding director of the Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago. Breasted was among the preeminent archaeologists of his day, and Shelton was one of his former students. Shelton in fact was the only scholar not from the University of Chicago on the trip.

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William Shelton stands in the middle; expedition leader James Henry Breasted is wearing a hat at left.

 

Newly liberated from the Ottoman Empire after World War I, the region was open to Western scholars for the first time in centuries, and with relatively few restrictions on recovering and exporting antiquities at the time, Breasted’s team could send home crates of materials. And they did.

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“William Shelton came to Egypt, riding on a donkey.”

The treasures Shelton discovered included a lipstick holder that had belonged to the grandmother of King Tut’s wife. But while Shelton stood in the tomb of Ramesses III, directly over Tut’s as-yet-undiscovered tomb in 1920, he never dreamed of what lay beneath his feet. Imagine what that collection would have done for the Emory Museum and the endowment of the University.

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Prof. Shelton sent home this obelisk of Shalmaneser III, king of the Assyrians.

Still, Shelton found something almost as valuable—a seed. That seed was the materials he shipped back to Atlanta for planting on the Quadrangle. The bill of lading for his shipment lists some 250 artifacts, from Egyptian mummies and coffins to Babylonian stamps and Palestinian potsherds—all purchased with the financial help of an Atlanta cotton merchant named James Manget.

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The statue of Ramesses II acquired by William Shelton in 1920.

Besides gathering all these materials, Shelton helped shape a vision for the role of the museum in the university. As he put it in an interview in 1926, “One of the greatest features of contact with the outside world that any university can have is a fine museum. . . My notion for the museum I want to have is that it should be started with a $100,000 fund for purchases, and an endowment of $1,000,000” to support further archeological expeditions.

Let me just note that the million-dollar endowment that Shelton desired would today be worth about $14 million. Sadly, it would take until 2002 for the museum endowment to reach $1 million.

Next post: The museum acquires a director in one of the more colorful characters to grace the Emory campus.

Gary S. Hauk

The Deer and the Pharaoh: The Emory Museum Celebrates a Hundred Years

In 1919, the trustees of Emory College were preparing to move their small but thriving school from its cradle in Oxford, Georgia, to the booming, bustling city of Atlanta, where the college would become the school of liberal arts in Emory University, newly chartered in 1915 and beginning life in the suburb of Druid Hills. The leaders in this enterprise were the brothers Asa Candler, chair of the board, and Warren Candler, the chancellor. Older brother Asa was the Coca-Cola magnate who had put up a million dollars and seventy-five acres to jump-start the new university. Warren was an Emory alumnus and former president of the college, now a leading bishop in the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. Both men were resolute in their high ambitions for their university.

That year, 1919, would bring the move of not only Emory College but also the collection of odds and ends that the college called a museum. Perhaps seeking to preserve the eclectic collection from an uncertain fate while the university was still taking shape, Chancellor Candler had asked the trustees formally to establish the Emory University Museum. Its aim, he said, would be to display what he called the “ethnic, biological, geological, archaeological, and historical” artifacts of human culture. A hundred years later, here we are.

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I think of the museum’s biography as having seven chapters, like the days of creation, although day seven in this case is hardly a day of rest. These seven chapters include one about ancestry, as many life stories do. A biography of Winston Churchill must say something about his socially prominent parents, just as a biography of Lincoln must climb up out of the unpromising bleakness of his early years. So it is with the museum at Emory, whose origins echo the modest circumstances of Lincoln’s youth and some of the grandeur of Churchill’s maturity. So first some notes on the museum’s antecedents.

The first history of Emory University was published in 1936, on the centennial of Emory College. The author, Henry Morton Bullock, dates the earliest stirrings toward a museum to 1839. In that year, the College purchased from a Dr. I. J. Cohen “a mineral cabinet containing a collection of 500 gems.” By the opening volleys of the Civil War, in 1861, that collection had grown to number 20,500 rocks of various shapes, sizes, and types.

This rock collection may seem to be the Neanderthal ancestor of the sleek and cerebral homo sapiens that is the current museum. In fact, that’s true. But in at least one important way, this mineral collection resonated with the later mission of the Emory museum. For the purpose of the mineral collection was not simply for people to view a lot of pretty things; it was a tool for teaching. Today’s professors of art history, classics, religion, Middle Eastern studies, and other departments who send their students to the museum would understand the desire of their forebears to have their students see the actual artifacts in their three-dimensional reality, which is more instructive than a classroom description.

The Civil War, unfortunately, wrought havoc on the Oxford campus, as Emory College closed for the duration. When the college reopened in January 1866, the mineral collection and other valuables had vanished. It took President Atticus Haygood to sow new seeds for a museum. In 1876, he commissioned John Fletcher Bonnell, professor of natural science, to communicate with “scientific gentlemen in all parts of the country with the view of exchanging mineral species and thus increasing our own.”

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Emory College faculty, 1877; Haygood seated third from left; Bonnell standing on right.

For historian Bullock, this mineral collection marks the beginning of the Emory museum, which would live in various places on the Oxford campus for the next forty years.

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The “mineralogical museum,” as it was called, probably located in what was then Science Hall, now Humanities Hall, on the Oxford campus of Emory. Photo from 1893 Zodiac yearbook of Emory College, from the collections of the Stuart A. Rose Library, Emory University.

The museum at Oxford gained new direction when a Methodist missionary named William Pattillo Turner, Emory College class of 1889, sent from Japan a trunk full of “Japanese costumes, trinkets, and antiques.” These became the nucleus of an Asian collection that would come to include Thai pottery, a Korean wine pot, a brick from the Great Wall of China, Japanese samurai armor, and—perhaps foreshadowing in some karmic way the future commitment of Emory to Tibetan Buddhist studies—a Tibetan prayer wheel. Significantly, the museum that had begun as a kind of natural sciences center now had a mission to exhibit the varieties of human experience.

A related area came into focus in 1911, when Bishop Warren Candler purchased a collection of Wesleyana from an Englishman named Robert Thursfield-Smith. The trove included some of the first Methodist hymnals, correspondence of the Wesley family, and odd personal items of early Methodist leaders, like Bishop Francis Asbury’s razor.

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The Wesleyana artifacts collection is housed in Pitts Theology Library of Emory’s Candler School of Theology. Papers of John and Charles Wesley and other prominent early Methodists are housed in the Stuart A. Rose Library.

In that same year, 1911, a flock of birds alighted at the museum, as the Reverend William H. LaPrade gave his alma mater a collection of stuffed Georgia birds, which were multiplied five years later when a Mrs. Robert Windsor Smith donated her late husband’s collection of four hundred specimens.

By the end of its first chapter of existence, then, the Emory museum had collected an assortment of objects that made the word “museum” a term of aspiration as much as a description. It was an omnium gatherum, a gathering of many things, all intended to help Emory students see firsthand the wonders of nature and the curiosities of human culture that they learned about in their classes. It would require the courage and imagination of a professor of the Hebrew Bible for the museum to take its first step toward eminence.

In chapter 2, the museum moves to Atlanta and becomes mummified.

Gary S. Hauk

Sources:

Michael C. Carlos Museum Records. Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library, Emory University.

Archival collection. Office of the Registrar and Collections Manager. Michael C. Carlos Museum.

 

 

Remembering a hero nurse from World War I

In a fifteenth-century building in a quaint French town along the Loire River, about a hundred miles south of Paris, a young American woman gave up her life a century ago for the sake of men who had risked their own lives in the “war to end wars.” Her name was Camille Louise O’Brien, and for nearly a hundred years — until this month — she had lain in an unmarked grave in southwest Atlanta.

The granddaughter of an Irish immigrant, Camille O’Brien grew up near Madison, Georgia, but moved with her father and twelve siblings to Atlanta after her mother’s death. In time, she enrolled in a nurses training program at Crawford Long Hospital (now Emory Hospital Midtown), and then completed her training at St. Joseph’s Infirmary (now St. Joseph’s Hospital, part of the Emory Healthcare system).

When the United States entered World War I, Emory physicians and nurses responded to the call for volunteers to establish a base hospital. Inducted in early 1918 and trained at Fort Gordon, outside Atlanta, the unit arrived in Blois, France, in July and set up Base Hospital 43. There, until the end of January, the physicians and nurses treated every kind of wound, injury, and disease among the soldiers who came to their makeshift wards—more than nine thousand cases in seven months. Nurse O’Brien, admonished for overworking to the point of making herself ill, remarked, “I cannot rest while men are being brought in faster than their wounds can be dressed.”

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Part of the École Supérieure in Blois that dates from the 15th century, converted in 1914 to use as a hospital, where Camille O’Brien served with 27 other nurses.

At the end of January 1919, with the armistice three months old and demobilization underway, the Emory Unit decamped for home but left behind a few volunteers to tend to the soldiers who were still recovering. Nurse O’Brien was one of those volunteers. Two months later, as the worldwide influenza epidemic of 1918-1919 swept through Blois for a second time, she became ill. Back in Georgia her former comrades were saying their goodbyes to each other at Camp Gordon and heading home to their families and friends. In Blois, Nurse O’Brien’s health continued to deteriorate, and on April 18, 1919, she died of spinal meningitis.

She was laid to rest in Blois with full military honors, in line with soldiers who had succumbed to their wounds.

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A row of American soldiers’ graves near where Camille O’Brien was buried in Blois.

Two years later, her body was exhumed and sent back home, where it once again was laid to rest, this time in historic Greenwood Cemetery. The VFW, the Red Cross, and other organizations paid tribute to the hero nurse. But no one thought to mark the grave. Or perhaps the family could not afford a stone. In any case, while the location was noted in cemetery records, there Nurse O’Brien lay, with only a patch of earth above her, until the hundredth anniversary of her death.

Members of the Georgia World War I Centennial Commission became interested in Nurse O’Brien’s story and determined to mark her grave at last. Along the way, they learned that a memorial plaque had been created and installed at the Emory University Hospital in September 1919. Last May I received a series of emails asking me if I knew of this plaque. Indeed I did not, but along with archivists, Campus Services staff, and many others I began to search. Months went by with no luck.

Then, amazingly, my colleague Sally Wolff King, the official historian of the Woodruff Health Sciences Center, happened to be walking past a bank of elevators on the basement floor of the hospital and looked up to see — the plaque to Camille O’Brien. Sally told me about the location, and I passed along the word to the commission, and before long the plaque had been removed, refurbished, and made ready for a display that will help to perpetuate the memory of this hero nurse.

On April 18, 2019, representatives of Emory,  the Red Cross, the VFW, the Georgia World War I Centennial Commission, Georgia Humanities, and Camille O’Brien’s family gathered to remember her and to mark her grave at last. The quiet, windswept hilltop with a view of the Atlanta skyline in the distance suggested that peace at last had come to Camille O’Brien.

For more information about the Emory Unit, see History of the Emory Unit, Base Hospital 43, U.S. Army American Expeditionary Forces, available at the Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives and Rare Book Library, Emory University.

Gary Hauk

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Poster on display at the April 18. 2019, memorial service, with news articles from 1919.
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The newly installed marker over Camille O’Brien’s grave.
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Plaque retrieved from Emory Hospital and refurbished, on display during memorial service.

 

 

Was Emory ever a town?

Last month a woman wrote to me and asked whether a town called Emory, Georgia, once existed. The answer, she said, might smooth the way for her mother’s international travel.

Her mother had been born at Emory University Hospital in 1944 and had always been told that she was born in the city of Atlanta. The problem was that when the mother recently ordered a certified copy of her birth certificate to apply for a passport, the space for “place of birth” indicated “Emory, DeKalb County” — suggesting that Emory was a town. This seemed to pose a potential complication for the passport application — Atlanta or Emory as place of birth?

After a little investigation, the daughter found that a 1940 U.S. census map showed three “cities” in DeKalb County: Scottdale, Decatur, and Emory. But was Emory really a city or a town? Or just a census tract?

Local folks whom the woman asked mostly said that Emory University was in the city of Decatur until January 2018, when it was annexed into the city of Atlanta. Staff at the DeKalb County department of vital statistics weren’t sure whether Emory had ever been a town or not, but they said the birth certificate was not a mistake. Births in 1944 would have indicated Emory in the town field because “that’s just how they filled them out” back then.

The question, then: In 1944, was Emory University Hospital in (A) the town of Emory, (B) the city of Decatur, (C) the city of Atlanta, (D) unincorporated DeKalb/militia district 531, or (E) something else?

By coincidence, I had recently been digging into something like this very question because I wanted to know when Emory began to use an Atlanta postal designation.

When Emory University began operations in Druid Hills in 1916, it was set in a suburb of Atlanta in unincorporated DeKalb County. It remained in unincorporated DeKalb County until January 1, 2018, when it was annexed into the city of Atlanta. It’s still in DeKalb County, of course, but for the first time it is within the boundaries of an incorporated city.

Back in 1916, the Seaboard Coast Line Railroad (now CSX) built a train station where the train tracks skirted the new campus. That station had its name painted on one wall: “EMORY, GA.” In 1947, the sign was repainted to read “EMORY UNIVERSITY, GA.”

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Emory University depot, 1947, courtesy of Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library.

In fact, the mailing address of the university was Emory University, Georgia, until May 1, 1958, when it was changed to Atlanta, Georgia 22, later Atlanta, Georgia 30322.

Campus stationery and letters to administrators through the first decades of Emory’s Atlanta sojourn were inconsistent. Sometimes the address was “Emory University, Georgia,” and sometimes “Atlanta, Georgia” or even “Druid Hills, Atlanta, Georgia.” Either way, Emory remained outside the city limits. The campus was still in an unincorporated section of the county and was not a city or town in its own right.

The original Emory post office bears the name EMORY UNIV., GA in the photo below, from the 1940s. This post office occupied the corner where the Center for Rehabilitation Medicine now stands, next to Egleston Hospital.

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Courtesy of Stuart A. Rose Library.

So, to answer the question: in 1944 Emory was not a town, was not in the city of Decatur, was not in the city of Atlanta, but was in unincorporated DeKalb County with its own mailing address. I’m not sure what that does for the mother’s passport application, but at least there’s an explanation for the oddly named location of birth.

Gary Hauk

Mr. Woodruff and the Three Wise Men, Part 3

Back in the 1960s, Robert Woodruff gave $4 million to the MERIT Campaign for Emory, which raised $35 million during the presidency of Sanford Atwood. (MERIT stood for Mobilizing Educational Resources and Ideas for Tomorrow.) Part of those funds from Woodruff went in 1969 to the construction of the library that bears his name. Twenty-five years later, the Robert W. Woodruff Foundation gave $2.5 million toward the expansion that opened in 1998 and included a room named for Joseph W. Jones.

Few spaces on campus see as much activity as the Jones Room, which hosts meetings of the University Senate, lectures by visiting scholars, poetry readings and literary discussions, and receptions for retiring faculty and staff. Yet while a handsome oil portrait of Joseph W. Jones hangs on the south wall of the room, hardly anyone knows who he was.

Joe Jones had begun work for the Cola-Cola Company in 1935 as a secretary in his native state of Delaware. The company had moved there from Atlanta two years earlier to avoid a tax on intangible assets imposed by the Georgia legislature. In 1946, after that tax was rescinded and the company prepared to return to Atlanta, Woodruff hired Jones as his personal assistant and later made him his chief of staff, executive aide, assistant treasurer, and eventually senior vice president and member of the board of directors of the company.

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Joseph W. Jones in the 1940s.

Calling Jones his “most trusted business associate,” Woodruff appointed Jones in 1972 as chair of the Trebor Foundation (“Robert” spelled backward), which was later renamed the Robert W. Woodruff Foundation. As chair of the foundation, Joe Jones partnered with Boisfeuillet Jones, who was by then president of the Woodruff Foundation, to dispense incalculable beneficence to the City of Atlanta and to educational, health, and other nonprofit institutions throughout the state. These institutions included, of course, Emory University, where Joe Jones served on the Board of Visitors.

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James B. Williams, Charles Duncan, Joseph W. Jones, Roberto Goizueta, and Robert Woodruff enjoying the pause that refreshes in the gun room at Ichauway Plantation.

As an indispensable aide to Woodruff, Joe Jones read all of Woodruff’s correspondence and answered much of it himself, whether dealing with US Senators or reviewing uniforms for the Ichauway Plantation softball team. He demonstrated a winsome kindness and tact in responding to the countless requests that came to Woodruff from people who knew of his great wealth and generosity and were in need of scholarships for their children or a new roof for their house or a new furnace for their church.

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Robert Woodruff, left, with Joe Jones, around 1980.

After Woodruff’s death in 1985, at the age of 95, Joe Jones served as executor of his estate and worked with Linda Mathews and Ginger Cain (now Smith) in Special Collections to place Mr. Woodruff’s and his own papers in what is now the Rose Library. Jones also supported placing the papers of Ralph McGill and other Atlanta notables there. The boards of the Woodruff, Lettie Pate Evans, and Joseph B. Whitehead Foundations followed Jones’s example by placing the records of those foundations and individuals at Rose Library as well. Pete McTier, longtime president of the Woodruff Foundation before his retirement a few years ago, continued Jones’s interest in Special Collections and helped garner foundation support for the latest renovation of the Woodruff Room on the top floor of the library.

In wrapping up this trilogy of blog posts about three very able servants of the common good, perhaps I can quote some of the citation read in 1985 when Joe Jones received an honorary degree from Emory. In some ways, it applies to all three of the wise men who helped guide Robert Woodruff’s philanthropic spirit. It reads:

“Remarkable administrator, public-spirited citizen, devoted friend and counselor, you have brought to your calling . . . that rare capacity to apprehend the whole of a worthy enterprise while yet attending to its every important detail. . . [Y]our sound judgment, as well as your friendship, have influenced the most wealthy and powerful of this city. No one could have proved to be a more effective or far-sighted steward of such a trust.”

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May those of us who continue to benefit from their stewardship never forget these three wise men.

Gary Hauk