Accessing Augusta: Photographs of a Changing Culture, 1940s to 1980s

Material Description

The collections of Robert Wilkinson Studio and the Fitz-Symms Studio represent the history of Augusta, Georgia and region known as the Central Savanah River Area (CSRA) during a tumultuous part of the 20th century. The studio of Robert Wilkinson Jr. operated between 1940 and 1992 and the Fitz-Symms Studio between 1946 and 2014. Their combined collections number around 750,000 negatives. Both photography studios operated both privately and under contract for The Augusta Chronicle newspaper which is the oldest newspaper in the South. Thus they photographed the exciting events of their days, such as important political events, celebrities arriving for the Masters Golf Tournament, and nationally recognized projects.

These nationally recognized projects arrived in the 1950s in the form of large federal ventures, such as the enlargement of the Fort Gordon military base, the building of the Clarks Hill Dam and Powerhouse which was the TVA equivalent for our region, and the Savannah River Project nuclear weapons plant that was built as part of the armament race of the Cold War. Robert Wilkinson Studio and the Fitz-Symms Studio captured this great economic endeavor in our community.

They also offer insight into everyday lives - for example covering the photographic life of an individual from birth to school to marriage to death. This retrospect into an individual's life can also, illustrate thought-provoking trends in fashion and the economy. In addition, both collections include aerial and architectural views of Augusta and the surrounding region, showing buildings and businesses that no longer exist and offering glimpses into the past.


Founded as the second city of colonial Georgia in 1736, the city of Augusta and the immediate environs has witnessed several cultural changes. The Wilkinson and Fitz-Symms Photo Negative Collections at the Augusta Museum of History illustrate the mid-20th century culture, economy, and race relations of a changing South. The Accessing Augusta project aims to digitize and make public their photography by partnering with The Center for the Study of Georgia History. Over a three year period, the project staff will scan and upload approximately 72,000 negatives from the collections along with their accompanying metadata. To increase public accessibility and awareness we will publish this content on our website, the South Carolina Digital Library, the Digital Library of Georgia, and the Center for the Study of Georgia History. As this project progresses, the Museum will engage with teachers, scholars, and social media to expand the collections exposure and impact nationwide.


Digitizing Hidden Collections

Amount Awarded


Year Added



Augusta Museum of History


  • Ms. Nancy Glaser (Augusta Museum of History)
  • Ms. Lauren
  • Ms.

Collaborating Institution(s)

Center for the Study of Georgia History, Georgia Regents University

Date Range

1940 - 1992

Geographic Scope

"Accessing Augusta" represents the Museum's mission which is a six county area of northeastern Georgia and neighboring South Carolina, geographically including Richmond, Columbia, Burke, McDuffie Counties in Georgia, and Aiken, and Edgefield Counties in South Carolina. While all of the negatives were taken in these counties, their impact extends nationwide.


  • 72000 Negatives