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George A. Towns Collection 1851-1963
5.5 linear feet
George Alexander Towns (b. 1870 d. 1960) was an educator, author, and community activist. For most of his life, Towns was affiliated with Atlanta University (AU), first as a student, then professor and finally as an active alumnus. One of his most notable contributions is as founder and editor of the Crimson and Gray, the AU Alumni Association monthly newsletter. He was a member of the class of 1894 which also included his close friend James Weldon Johnson with whom he corresponded until Johnson's death. In 1929 when Atlanta University shifted its curriculum to only graduate level courses, Towns retired. He went to Fort Valley Normal and Industrial School (now Fort Valley State University, Georgia) where he was assistant to the principal and later acting principal until 1938. He was active in the community as a member of the Atlanta branch of the NAACP, the Citizen's League, the Boulé of Atlanta (Sigma Pi Phi), and the Community Chest. A member of the Harvard University Class of 1900, he was also active in the Harvard University Alumni Association and in the 1920's used his class connections to raise funds for Atlanta University. His lifelong passion for writing is evidenced in the many odes he authored on special occasions and his poems, some of which were published.
This collection consists of the papers of George Alexander Towns from 1851 to 1963. It includes correspondence, literary works, diaries, photographs, and publications. The bulk of the materials pertain to Town's association with Atlanta University (AU) both as a student and faculty member. The earliest materials concern Lucy Elizabeth (Merriam) Case, a favorite teacher of Towns at AU, and include her biography which tells of the beginning of the school and a few of its students. Correspondence from Horace Bumstead (AU's second president) describes Town's fundraising and public relations work, his support of William Monroe Trotter's attack on Booker T. Washington, and Town's subsequent censure by AU's Board of Trustees. Correspondence from AU classmate James Weldon Johnson traces Johnson's literary career and their involvement with the struggle of African American men. Correspondence between Towns and Harvard Classmate William N. Seaver discusses national and local politics, World War II, and the Civil Rights Movement. Other major correspondents include Myron W. Adams, Rufus E. Clement, William Henry Crogman, W.E.B. DuBois, and Edward Twichell Ware. The collection also contains materials pertaining to Town's career at Fort Valley; drafts of poems, prose, and class lecture notes; and his essays and notes from when he was a student.