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William B. Hartsfield films

Collection number: ahc.VIS194

Scope and Content

The films in this collection depict the 1939 premiere of the Gone with the Wind, hosted by the City of Atlanta; Hartsfield’s 1940 mayoral campaign; Hartsfield with Gone with the Wind author Margaret Mitchell selling war bonds in downtown Atlanta during World War II; footage highlighting his six-term career as mayor; and amateur footage of Hartsfield with unidentified individuals fishing in the Okefenokee Swamp.


  • approximately 1939-1960


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Reproduction and Use

This material is protected by copyright law. (Title 17, U.S. Code) Permission for use must be cleared through the Kenan Research Center at the Atlanta History Center. Licensing agreement may be required.

Administrative/Biographical History

William Berry Hartsfield (1890-1971) was born in Atlanta, Georgia, to Charles Green Hartsfield (1849-1918) and Victoria Dagnall Hartsfield (1854-1936). He married Pearl Williams in 1913 and had two children: William Berry Hartsfield Jr. (1916-1993) and Mildred Hartsfield Cheshire (1919-2012). They divorced in 1962 and he married Tollie Tolan that same year.

Hartsfield was first elected to the Atlanta City Council in 1922, where he helped establish Atlanta's first airport and was a frequent proponent of air transportation in Atlanta, earning the reputation as Atlanta’s “father of aviation.” He left politics for a short period to focus on his law practice but returned in 1932 and elected as a Fulton County representative to the Georgia legislature and served in that role until 1936.

Hartfield was elected as Atlanta's 49th mayor in 1937 until he lost re-election to Roy Le Craw in 1940. When Le Craw was drafted by the Georgia National Guard after the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941, he resigned from his position and Hartsfield was re-elected as mayor in a special election. During his tenure as mayor, the city limits tripled in size, his administration oversaw the construction of the city’s expressway system and the development of several parks. It was during this time that Atlanta saw beginning of desegregation with the hiring of the first Black policeman in 1947, the integration of the city’s bus system in 1957, and the integration of the Atlanta Public School system in 1961. In 1955, Hartsfield coined the phrase “City Too Busy to Hate,” after the desegregation of Atlanta golf courses, which would become a slogan for his successor, Ivan Allen Jr.’s, mayoral campaign. He served until his retirement in 1961, making him Atlanta’s longest serving mayor. Hartfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport was named in Hartsfield's honor, along with Mayor Maynard Jackson.


8 film reel(s)



System of Arrangement

This collection is arranged by catalog number.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

Patrons who want access to the films listed must use the digital copies available at

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift, 1985

Bias in Description

As archivists, we acknowledge our role as stewards of information. We choose how individuals and organizations are represented and described in our archives. We are not neutral, and bias is reflected in our descriptions, which may not accurately convey the racist or offensive aspects of collection materials. Archivists make mistakes and might use poor judgment. In working with this collection, we often re-use language used by the former owners of the material. This language provides context but often includes bias and prejudices reflective of the time in which it was created. The Kenan Research Center’s work is ongoing to implement reparative language where Library of Congress subject terms are inaccurate and obsolete.

Kenan Research Center welcomes feedback and questions regarding our archival descriptions. If you encounter harmful, offensive, or insensitive terminology or descriptions, please let us know by emailing Your comments are essential to our work to create inclusive and thoughtful description.

Description Control

This collection was processed in 2024.

William B. Hartsfield films
Melanie Stephan and Kate Daly
March 2024
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Kenan Research Center at Atlanta History Center Repository

130 West Paces Ferry Road
Atlanta GA 30305