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ENGL 1102 Reference Guide: Atlanta Civic & Neighborhood History

This guide's purpose is to help the students in ENGL 1102 find archival material at GSU for their coursework.

Atlanta Civic & Neighborhood History

The collections in Atlanta Civic & Neighborhood History concentrate primarily on the Atlanta metro area and surrounding Georgia communities, focusing on:

  • Atlanta’s economic, social, and political development from the mid-20th century to the present.
  • Community-building efforts and civic engagement in Atlanta neighborhoods and communities.
  • Activism related to the environment, education, housing and the death penalty.
  • Alternative newspapers and journalism (e.g., The Great Speckled Bird and Creative Loafing).

Please see below for collection material related to print culture produced in the Atlanta area.

Atlanta Civic & Neighborhood History: Printed Materials

Creative Loafing (Partially Digitized)
Creative Loafing
 is an alternative newspaper covering arts, entertainment, music, news, and politics in metro Atlanta. The paper was founded in 1972 by Deborah and Elton (Chick) Eason and expanded to other cities in the 1980s and 1990s under Creative Loafing, Inc. It went through various ownerships, starting in 2009, before being purchased by Ben Eason, son of the founders, bringing the publication back to the family as Creative Loafing, LLC, in 2017. Creative Loafing Inc. was once the nation's second-largest publisher of alternative weeklies. Creative Loafing continues to be published online as a regularly updated website, with special print editions published occasionally throughout the year. The digital collection currently includes all issues of Creative Loafing published between the inaugural issue of June 3, 1972 and June 1, 1974. Additional issues will be added on an ongoing basis. Most other issues are available in print format on the 3rd floor or in the Special Collections & Archives reading room.

The Great Speckled Bird Collection (Digitized)
The Great Speckled Bird was one of several underground newspapers that appeared in the United States in the 1960s. Published in Atlanta from 1968 to 1976, The Bird, as it was commonly known, was a new, radical voice from the South. The Bird stood out among the alternative press for the quality of its writing, its cover art and its fearless opinions and reporting on a range of topics—national and local politics, the counterculture, women’s issues, gay liberation, reproductive choice, music, art, and more.

The Atlanta Business Chronicle Collection (see archivist)
The Atlanta Business Chronicle began publishing in 1978 and is a weekly paper covering business news in the metro Atlanta area. The collection at GSU includes print copies starting with the first issue in 1978 through 2007.

Krista Brewer Collection of Circuit Rider Newsletters
Founded by Great Speckled Bird alum, Krista Brewer, and others, the Circuit Rider was a progressive newsletter covering politics in the City of Atlanta in the late 1970s. From the first issue: "A circuit rider historically was a preacher who traveled from town to town carrying word of the gospel. Also, a judge who rode a circuit of small towns holding court was sometimes called a circuit rider. Both preacher and judge riding the circuits played the vital role of carrying the news from place to place. We decided to update the term to mean an information network; our Circuit Rider will spread the word around Atlanta about progressive political events, including activities from all area groups that agree with our statement of purpose: Circuit Rider is a biweekly calendar promoting the efforts of organizations seeking human justice and social change through struggles against economic exploitation and oppression due to race, class, sex, sexual preference, or age."

Matthew Cardinale papers
The Matthew Cardinale papers, 2002-2012 (bulk 2007-2008), reflect Cardinale's activities as a journalist and activist in the Atlanta area. Along with print copies of the Atlanta Progressive News, the papers include photocopies of personal scrapbooks documenting Cardinale’s work and stories about him, 2006-2012.

Atlanta Civic & Neighborhood History: Related Materials

The Great Speckled Bird Oral History Project
The Great Speckled Bird Oral History Project consists of born-digital interviews with more than 30 former staff members of the underground newspaper. Notable interviews include some of the founders and earliest members of The Bird staff as well as long-time contributors, including Tom and Stephanie Coffin, Nan Orrock, Gene Guerrero, Steve Wise, Howard Romaine, Bob Goodman, and Sue Thrasher.

Tom Coffin Photographic Collection
Dr. Tom Coffin was one of the founding members of the underground, alternative voice publication in Atlanta, the Great Speckled Bird, first published on March 15, 1968. In addition to being an activist, writer, and photographer he has also been an engineering technician, a pulp mill worker, a truck driver, a household furniture mover, and a carpenter. Coffin earned a Ph.D. in forestry at the University of Georgia in 1995 and taught as an instructor at Georgia State University (GSU), Clayton College and State University, and Gainesville College. This collection includes photographs taken by Coffin during his time with The Great Speckled Bird, some of which were used in the publication.

The Great Speckled Bird: What a Beautiful Thought I am Thinking (exhibit)
The Great Speckled Bird: What a Beautiful Thought I am Thinking explores the history and legacy of Atlanta’s pioneering underground weekly newspaper, The Great Speckled Bird (1968-1976). The exhibit also explores the revival of The Bird in 1984-5.

Great Speckled Bird Research Guide
Created for the 50th anniversary of The Bird, this research guide provides a full chronological listing of all of the paper's issues and links out to the digital copies.

The Great Speckled Bird Playlist (YouTube)
This playlist, originally curated by Traci Drummond, highlights music popular during the era of the underground newspaper (1968-1976).


How to Make an Appointment

You are welcome to visit our Reading Room by appointment only to view our collections. You can use our online registration portal to make an appointment and to request materials to view. An archivist or other staff member will be available during your appointment to answer questions. 

You can request materials in both ArchivesSpace and Digital Collections via the "Request This Item" button located on the upper right side of the page. 

Please contact with any questions.