Feb. 1, 1911: William Baxter Matthews’ compilation of facts in the recent The Negro Business Directory and Commercial Guide of Atlanta surprised many Atlanta readers. The Atlanta Georgian credited the Gate City School principal for his thorough listing of 100 business categories at 2,000 separate locations, managed by African Americans. In 1890, Matthews graduated from Atlanta University and from 1902 to 1929 served as a trustee. His Atlanta affiliations included membership in the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA), the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), and the Negro Young People’s Christian and Educational Congress. He and his wife, Ophelia Beale, were Fourth Ward residents living at 147 Howell Street. Today William Baxter Matthews’ historical papers are housed in the Atlanta University Center’s Robert W. Woodruff Library, Archives Research Center.
Feb. 6. 1985: Spelman College welcomed Shirley Chisholm as a visiting professor for the spring semester. The Democratic trailblazer was the first African American woman elected to the U.S. Congress. During her seven terms in the House of Representatives from New York, 1969 to 1982, the bilingual outspoken champion of women and minorities was a staunch critic of the Vietnam War. Her two published works are Unbought and Unbossed, an autobiography, and The Good Fight, about her bid for the U.S. presidency in 1972; she was the first African-American to seek a major party’s nomination. She died in Jan.1, 2005.
Feb. 6, 1916: Thomas Robert Egleston, Jr. a Charleston native, died at his elegant home at 759 Peachtree Street on the northeast corner of Eighth Street. Although Egleston he never married, he helped father two great Atlanta institutions: All Saints’ Church and The Henrietta Egleston Hospital for Children. He made his fortune as one of the nation’s top fire insurance men and showed remarkable genius for finance. By the time he was 27-years-old he was a charter member of Capital City Club. At his death, he would be a director of the Lowry National Bank, Trust Company of Georgia, Atlantic Ice and Coal Company, Georgia Railway and Power Company, and president of what later became Southeastern Underwriters Association. In his will he bequeathed money to purchase land and to build and equip a 50-bed hospital for children to be named after his mother, Henrietta Egleston Hospital, which opened in 1928. In 1998, Egleston Children’s Health Care System and the Scottish Rite Children’s Medical Center merged to form the not-for-profit pediatric hospital Children’s’ Healthcare of Atlanta.
Feb. 22, 1892: Atlantans got their first look at the “Battle of Atlanta” inside a towering drum-shaped building on the north side of Edgewood Avenue between Courtland and Piedmont avenues. The Cyclorama is now housed at Grant Park.
Feb. 29, 1940: Academy Award nominee Hattie McDaniel received the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role as Mammy in the 1939 film Gone With the Wind. She was the first African American actor ever recognized with this honor.
Feb. 29, 1940: Screenwriter Lamar Jefferson Trotti (1900-1952), an Atlanta native, received an Academy Award nomination in the category of Best Writing/Original Story for Young Mr. Lincoln (1939). The film, produced by Darryl F. Zanuck and directed by John Ford, starred Henry Fonda in the highly fictionalized account of the president’s early life. In 2003, Young Mr. Lincoln was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”