Skip to main content

Grace Towns Hamilton papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: 0000-0000-0000-0152

Scope and contents

The Grace Towns Hamilton papers consist of materials related to the life and career of Grace Towns Hamilton. The collections dates from 1900 to 1992 with the bulk of the materials dating from 1950 to 1985. It includes personal papers, correspondence, biographical materials, and items related to her parents, Nellie McNair Towns and George A. Towns. It also contains personal memorabilia, such as certificates and honorary degrees.

A large portion of the collection is made up of materials related to and from her career as a state representative in the Georgia General Assembly from 1965 to 1984. The Georgia House of Representatives materials series consists of correspondence, campaign materials, the Fulton County House Delegation and the Georgia Legislative Black Caucus materials, and research materials. It also contains legislative materials such as copies of bills, copies of Georgia Rules and Regulations and Sections of Georgia Laws. It includes materials from the Appropriations committee and the Citizens’ Advisory Committee on Environmental Quality. In addition, the collection includes various materials related to organizations that Grace Towns Hamilton was a member of or participated in such as the Atlanta University Board of Trustees, the Meharry Medical College Board of Trustees, and the Atlanta Urban League. The collection contains a number maps used as a part of the reapportionment committee, including maps of congressional districts, Atlanta, GA, possible changes to the Georgia districts, election precincts of Fulton County, and neighborhood development areas. The Scrapbook series consists of scrapbooks of photographs and newspaper clippings with materials about or related to her time in the Georgia General Assembly. Additionally, a major portion of the collection includes printed and published materials such as booklets, brochures, magazines, newspapers, posters, programs, and reports. Part of this series includes printed and published materials that feature Grace Towns Hamilton and her work in the Georgia General Assembly. Moreover, the collection contains many photographs. The Photographs series is made up of photographs of her family including father, George A. Towns and Nellie McNair Towns, siblings, her husband, daughter, and family friends. It includes photographs from her time in the Georgia House of Representatives as well as others of various groups and individuals. The Grace Towns Hamilton papers consist of materials related to the life and career of Grace Towns Hamilton. The collections dates from 1900 to 1992 with the bulk of the materials dating from 1950 to 1985. It includes personal papers, such as correspondence, biographical materials, and items related to her parents, Nellie McNair Towns and George A. Towns. It contains personal memorabilia, such as certificates and honorary degrees.

A large portion of the collection is made up of materials related to and from her career as a state representative in the Georgia General Assembly from 1965 to 1984. This series consists of correspondence, campaign materials, the Fulton County Delegation and the Georgia Legislative Black Caucus materials, and research materials. It also contains legislative materials such as copies of bills, copies of Georgia Rules and Regulations and Sections of Georgia Laws. It includes materials from committees such as the Appropriations committee and the Citizens’ Advisory Committee on Environmental Quality. In addition the collection includes various materials related to organizations that Grace Towns Hamilton was a member or participated in such as the Atlanta University Board of Trustees, the Meharry Medical College Board of Trustees, and the Atlanta Urban League.

The collection contains many maps used as a part of the reapportionment committee. Includes maps of congressional districts, Atlanta, Georgia, possible changes to the Georgia districts, election precincts of Fulton County, and neighborhood development areas as well as others. It consists of scrapbooks of photographs and newspaper clippings with materials about or related to her time in the Georgia General Assembly. Additionally, a major portion of the collection includes printed and published materials such as booklets, brochures, magazines, newspapers, posters, programs, and reports. Part of this series includes printed and published materials that feature Grace Towns Hamilton and her work in the Georgia General Assembly, such as newspaper clippings. Moreover, the collection contains many photographs. This series is made up of photographs of her family including father, George A. Towns and Nellie McNair Towns, siblings, her husband, daughter, and family friends. It includes photographs from her time in the Georgia House of Representatives as well as others of various groups and individuals.

Dates

  • 1900-1992, undated
  • Majority of material found within 1950-1985

Creator

Rights statement

All materials in this collection are either protected by copyright or are the property of the Robert W. Woodruff Library of the Atlanta University Center, Inc., and/or the copyright holder as appropriate. For more information, please contact archives@auctr.edu

Biographical note

Grace Towns Hamilton was born on February 10, 1907 in Atlanta, Georgia to George Alexander Towns and Nellie McNair Towns. Her father worked as a professor at Atlanta University (now Clark Atlanta University). Hamilton grew up at Atlanta University, attending school and living on the campus. She was educated there from grade school through college. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1927, and received a master’s degree in psychology from Ohio State University in 1929. Hamilton returned to Atlanta after receiving her masters and taught psychology at Clark College and the Atlanta School of Social Work.

Hamilton married Henry “Cooke” Hamilton on June 7, 1930 in Ware Memorial Chapel on Atlanta University’s campus. After marrying, the couple moved to Memphis, TN where Hamilton and her husband, Henry, taught at LeMoyne College. During her time there, Hamilton developed interracial YWCA programs across college campuses and surveyed Black workers for the Works Progress Administration. While living in Memphis, they had their daughter, Eleanor Hamilton Payne, in 1931.

After returning to Atlanta in 1941, Hamilton served as Executive Director of the Atlanta Urban League (AUL) from 1943 to 1960. During her time there, she organized drives and campaign efforts for the AUL to improve housing, education, voter registration, and health care for African Americans. After her time at the AUL, she operated Hamilton and Associates consulting firm until 1967. In addition, Hamilton was a member of the Citizens' Advisory Committee on Recreation and Natural Beauty (later renamed to Citizens' Advisory Committee for Environmental Quality), which was a national committee under the President and Vice President of the United States.

In 1965, the Georgia General Assembly reapportioned the Georgia House of Representatives, which added 21 seats in Fulton County. As a result of these additional seats, a special election was held and, Grace Towns Hamilton was elected the first African American woman to serve as a state representative in the Georgia General Assembly. She was one of eight African Americans elected in a special election in 1965, which included Julian Bond. Hamilton represented the Vine City area of Atlanta in the Georgia House of Representatives, and due to redistricting in 1969 and 1973, her district number changed three times. She served on various committees, such as the Reapportionment Committee and the Appropriations Committee, and sponsored numerous bills during her time in the Georgia General Assembly in an effort to expand Black leadership and political representation in city, county, and state governments. Hamilton was a principal architect for the 1973 Atlanta City Charter, which allowed Blacks to be elected to the Atlanta City Council in numbers proportionate to their part of the city’s population. Grace Towns Hamilton was a key figure in changing and promoting the city of Atlanta. During her tenure as the first African American woman in the Georgia House of Representatives, Hamilton worked to create opportunities and fair political representation for African Americans across the state.

Grace Towns Hamilton served in the Georgia House of Representatives for close to 20 years. After losing reelection in 1984 to Mable Thomas, Hamilton served as an advisor to the United States Civil Rights Commission from 1985 to 1987 before she passed in June of 1992.

Some information was obtained from www.blackpast.org and www.georgiaencyclopedia.org

Extent

46.75 Linear feet (63 document boxes, 10 oversize boxes, 2 record storage boxes, 3 portfolio boxes, 1 microfilm box)

Language of Materials

English

Arrangement

This collection is divided into seven series, five of which have been further divided into subseries. The contents of the series have been arranged alphabetically or chronologically. See series notes for each series for more details.

Related archival collections

Other archival collections related to the Grace Towns Hamilton papers in the Archives Research Center include the George A. Towns collection, the Atlanta Urban League papers, the Voter Education Project organizational records, the Southern Regional Council records, and the Josephine Dibble Murphy collection. Additionally, the Atlanta History Center houses a Grace Towns Hamilton collection and Grace Towns Hamilton maps and photographs collection.

Separations

Oversize materials have been separated to appropriate housing.
Title
Grace Towns Hamilton Papers, 1900-1992
Subtitle
Hamilton, Grace Towns papers
Status
Completed
Author
Finding prepared by Brittany Newberry, 2017 February
Date
February 2017
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin

Repository Details

Part of the Robert W. Woodruff Library of the Atlanta University Center, Inc. Repository

Contact:
111 James P. Brawley Drive, SW
Atlanta 30314 USA
404-978-2052
404-978-2109 (Fax)