Medical ledger documenting 19th century Athens freedmen now freely available in the Digital Library of Georgia

CONTACT: Deborah Hakes,

ATLANTA — A Reconstruction-era medical ledger detailing the names of hundreds of African American freedmen has been digitized and made freely available online through the Digital Library of Georgia. The project is a partnership between Georgia HomePLACE, the digitization unit of the Georgia Public Library Service; and the Athens-Clarke County Library, headquarters of the Athens Regional Library System.

The medical ledger, created by Dr. Joseph Barnett Carlton (1822-1881), is an excellent resource for researchers and genealogists seeking to identify and locate African Americans following the end of the U.S. Civil War. A leather-bound volume of hand-lettered pages, the ledger contains the names, diagnoses, and medications sold to freed African Americans by the physician. Entries are dated 1867-1872 and provide the first and last names of patients along with the date of treatment. 
“This ledger is an incredible piece of history,” said Athens Regional Library System Executive Director Valerie Bell. “It offers us a rare glimpse into the lives of African American Athenians in the years immediately following the Civil War and Emancipation, which is valuable both to family history researchers and students of history and medicine. We are so pleased to partner with HomePLACE to make this treasure more accessible for everyone.”
Included in many entries are the illness for which the patient was treated and the cost for the treatment and any medicine. Payments made towards the bill are documented along with the dates of the payments and the date when the account is paid in full. One interesting entry shows that Dr. Carlton treated a young patient on Christmas day in 1872.

Dr. Carlton was a physician for 35 years. He served as surgeon of the Toombs Regiment, C.S.A., and was a graduate of the University of Georgia and the Medical College in Augusta. Dr. Carlton also served in the Georgia House and Senate.

“The Carlton ledger of Freedmen is an expressly cherished piece in our collection at the Athens-Clarke County Library,” says Ashley Shull, archives and special collections coordinator of the Athens Regional Library System. “This item will connect the family histories for many people within our community.”  

Georgia HomePLACE encourages public libraries and related institutions across the state to participate in the Digital Library of Georgia. HomePLACE offers a highly collaborative model for digitizing primary source collections related to local history and genealogy. HomePLACE is a project of the Georgia Public Library Service, a unit of the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia. HomePLACE is supported with federal Library Services and Technology Act funds administered by the Institute of Museum and Library Services through the Georgia Public Library Service. Visit

Athens Regional Library System serves the residents of Athens-Clarke, Franklin, Madison, Oconee and Oglethorpe counties with 11 library branches. The system offers an extensive collection of resources and provides access to evolving technology in addition to programs and events for children, teens and adults. Headquartered at the Athens-Clarke County Library, the Athens Regional Library System was named Georgia’s Public Library of the Year in 2017. Learn more at

Georgia Archives Month Institutional Feature: The "Georgia Room" at Live Oak Public Libraries

Part of Live Oak Public Libraries in Savannah, The Kaye Kole Genealogy & Local History Room at Bull Street Library was established in 1999.  Affectionately nicknamed the Georgia Room, this space has a wealth of Southern history and genealogical resources.  
One of the most unique components is the Gamble Collection, given by a former mayor of the city. The collection includes maps, Civil War-era illustrations, journals on the naval stores business (1921-1949), and scrapbooks on a wide variety of historical topics. Some of the special items in the collection include the employee magazines for the Central of Georgia Railway (1913-1963) and the Southeastern Shipbuilding Corporation (during World War II). There are colorful topics too. If you are looking for a recipe or gardening ideas, there are many books to peruse.
The Georgia Room contains census materials, family histories, county histories and other genealogy materials.  It also has Colonial, Revolutionary, and Civil War records. For researching your family tree, the library’s collection has the most resources from Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia.  Library staff are able to help researchers trace ancestors from other states and even from other countries.  
For local history, the archive houses newspapers, telephone books, city directories (dating back to 1848), Sanborn maps, and a small collection of yearbooks. Images of newspapers on microfilm include the Savannah Morning News (1763-present), Savannah Evening Press, and the Savannah Tribune. There is also a large collection of clippings and pamphlets on Georgia topics.  
For historians and students of American history, the Georgia Room has a collection of the “Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States” from Herbert Hoover through Bill Clinton.
Items in the Georgia Room are available to the public for in-library use during regular operating hours.  The library also offers access to valuable online resources. Highlights include links to keyword searchable databases such as Ancestry Library Edition, African American Newspapers (1827-1998), HeritageQuest Online, Georgia Historic Newspapers, and a curated list of useful websites, including Family Search. 
Built in 1916 with a Carnegie grant, the Bull Street Library is an excellent example of neoclassical architecture and a neighborhood landmark just south of Savannah’s historic district.  The striking marble block structure is supported by an iron work grid. More iron work in the shelving holds up five floors, the outside walls, and ultimately the roof. A beautiful piece of iron work served as an oculus in the ceiling of the lobby as well.   
Live Oak Public Libraries is a system of 16 library locations serving Chatham, Effingham, and Liberty counties in southeast Georgia. Live Oak has two other special collections. At the Hinesville Library, the Hinesville Genealogy Room, sponsored by LaFayne May in honor of Wyman May, has a large collection of local history and genealogy resources. The Springfield Library also has a growing collection of local resources of interest to genealogists and historians.