Collaborative Atlanta Studies website gathers original scholarship, research, projects on Atlanta

Published 02-17-2015

by Maureen McGavin

The Atlanta Studies website includes Boyd Lewis' original article about his time living in Margaret Mitchell's apartment and the building's history, an example of the original scholarship encouraged by the collaborative publication. Image credit: Margaret Mitchell apartment house by Boyd Lewis.

Emory University’s Center for Digital Scholarship (ECDS) is hosting a new website to bring together research projects, resources, and information about the Atlanta metro region and inspire new scholarship.

Atlanta Studies (, which launched Feb. 16, is an open-access online publication that features original writings and projects about the Atlanta region, resources for the region, and events such as quarterly meetups and an annual Atlanta Studies Symposium. Atlanta Studies is a collaborative effort, with editorial and advisory board members from organizations and institutions across the region and the country, and aims to engage audiences both inside and outside the academic world.

“The Atlanta metro region is large, growing rapidly, and under-studied,” says Allen Tullos, co-director of ECDS. “The Atlanta Studies project offers a unique site where shared research and discussion about the region's past, present, and future can take place among collaborating institutions and organizations.”

Atlanta Studies is not just for those in the academic arena, but for members of the public as well, says editorial board member Ed Hatfield, an ECDS graduate fellow in digital humanities and PhD candidate in history at Emory.

“We want to bring academic scholarship to the public at large and to make a contribution to Atlanta’s media landscape, so people who are interested in history and politics can have a new source for commentary, analysis and information,” Hatfield says.

Features of the Atlanta Studies site

This screenshot shows the projects and resources available to members of the public as well as to academics. The section is expected to expand as the new website takes off.

The website publishes original scholarship on a monthly basis; the first article is Boyd Lewis’ “Living at Peggy’s: Where Margaret Mitchell Wrote ‘Gone with the Wind,’ ” an insightful telling of the history of Mitchell’s famous apartment, including a first-person account of the period when Lewis occupied it.

Blog posts such as Scott Libson’s “The Lost Picture Show: Remapping the Cinema Landscape of Segregated Atlanta” – about the work of Emory professors Dana White (emeritus) and Matthew Bernstein using ECDS’s forthcoming Digital Atlanta Geocoder mapping system – will appear on a regular basis, Hatfield says.

“We’re always looking for new and interesting voices, and we’re really excited about what we’re starting out with,” says Sarah Melton, ECDS digital projects coordinator and a PhD candidate studying public history at Emory University. Submissions are accepted via email at and reviewed by the editorial board. also offers a gateway to several projects and resources. Current featured projects are the ECDS’s Battle of Atlanta smartphone-accessible tour; the Peoplestown Project, about the historic neighborhood and its community-based organizing legacy; and the Inman Park Squirrel Census, with findings and often humorous stories from its “census” of the Eastern gray squirrel in an urban neighborhood.

Resources include access to historic Atlanta topographic maps, as well as to multiple Atlanta maps related to demographics, regional planning, economic development, education, public health, housing, and transportation.

How it began

The online publication is an outgrowth of the Atlanta Studies Network, a group formed in 2012 by former ECDS digital scholarship coordinator Stewart Varner and Brennan Collins, associate director of Writing across the Curriculum and the Center for Instructional Innovation at Georgia State University. The group’s purpose: to bring together people engaged in their own research projects about Atlanta. Group members’ projects often pertain to community development, socio-economic issues, transportation and infrastructure, urban design, and labor and unemployment.

“When Atlanta Studies Network began, there was a lack of a space for people to find resources and research about the Atlanta, which really surprised us because Atlanta is a huge metro area,” Melton says. “We wanted to create a space where people could find high-quality, interesting, original scholarship about the region, as well as resources for people who wanted to do their own projects and research.”

Group members now number about 200, and the casual quarterly meetings are attended by a mix of academics and members of the public. The first annual Atlanta Studies Symposium was held at Emory University in spring 2013 and drew about 125 people; the second was held at Georgia State, and this year’s symposium will take place at Georgia Institute of Technology on May 6.

“The growth and the collaboration are a credit to the leadership Emory has shown in building a digital scholarship center and promoting digital humanities,” Hatfield says. “All of our colleagues in our partner institutions are supportive and in many cases doing equally impressive work in the field.”

A joint project with other universities and organizations is guided by an editorial board and an advisory board, both of which reflect the cooperative nature of Atlanta Studies itself. The two boards include people from inside and outside academia.

The editorial board includes people from Emory, Georgia State, and Kennesaw State universities; the Atlanta History Center, and Atlanta Studies co-founder Varner, who is now at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The eight editorial board members represent a variety of specializations – historians, librarians, a geographer, and people with experience in community development – which helps guide the types of stories that need to be covered, Hatfield says.

Representatives from the Auburn Avenue Research Library, Emory and Georgia State universities, and Atlanta Magazine comprise the 11-member advisory board. “These are senior scholars whose expertise and wisdom we can draw on as needed,” Hatfield says. “They advise on focus and give their opinions about whether there are things we could do better or if there are stories that have been underreported in the press that we should focus on with their expertise.”

Hatfield says although Emory publishes the site, it’s the cooperative nature of the project that makes it work.

“There are so many colleges and universities throughout the Atlanta metro area that can contribute so much to the life of the region,” Hatfield says. “Until now, there hasn’t been a single space for people to come together and share research and ideas, and hopefully, collaborate on projects. The website, the symposiums and the meetups are creating that space and those forums where we might see a lot of productive exchange and take advantage of the remarkable research institutions that are located here.”

For media inquiries, contact: