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John Isham Papers

Identifier: ahc.MSS232

Scope and Content

This collection consists of six diaries written by John Isham and his wife, Maria Louisa “Lou”, during the years 1878 to 1892. At the conclusion of the diaries there is one page dated February 1893, most probably written by his daughter. John Isham died on 1 August 1892. The daily entries usually begin with observations of the weather and temperature, followed by comments about daily events. In addition, Isham and his wife give a great deal of attention to the news and gossip around Atlanta. They note births, marriages, and deaths, also commenting on politics and the state of education in the city. The diaries also contain long summaries of sermons preached at Central Presbyterian Church. In addition to the diaries, the collection contains a ledger and enrollment book from the Pine Grove Academy, the private school operated by Isham in Columbus, Georgia. All of this is concluded with various transcriptions of the diaries. These incomplete transcriptions, some hand written while others have been typed, were done by Atlanta Historical Society volunteers in the 1980s.


  • 1855-1893


Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Reproduction and Use

Unpublished manuscripts are protected by copyright. All requests to publish, quote, or reproduce must be submitted through the Kenan Research Center.

Administrative/Biographical History

John Isham (1817-1892) was born in Manchester, Vermont on 31 January 1817. He was trained as a lawyer, and admitted to the New York Bar. In 1840 he moved to South Carolina where he began a teaching career and he later moved to Columbus, Georgia. For a short time, he taught in the public schools of Columbus, Georgia. In 1855 he opened his own private academy, Pine Grove, which he led until 1864. In the last year of the Civil War, he enlisted as a private in the Confederate Army and he served in Capt. Chapman’s Company of the Georgia Defenders. He returned to Columbus in 1865 and continued teaching. He moved to Atlanta in 1868 where he was named principal of the Crew Street School in 1872. For a brief time, 4 months in 1883, he lived in Talladega, Alabama. He returned to Atlanta in January of 1884 and remained until his death on 1 August 1892. He was married twice, to Miss Elizabeth Sherwood in 1854 and Miss Maria Louisa “Lou” Wood in 1875 (b. 1850 d. 14 Sept. 1946). He had three daughters who reached maturity, Annie Angier (b 1857 d. 7 June 1938), Mary Graham ( b. 1879 d. 6 Dec. 1964), and Helen Wynne(b. 1889 d. 4 June 1984). At least three children, one son and two daughters died in infancy.


1 linear ft.



System of Arrangement

This collection is arranged chronologically by journal date, followed by ledger, and diary transcriptions.

Custodial History

These diaries were originally in the possession of Mrs. Don Wynne, daughter of John Isham. They were donated to the Atlanta history Center, with assistance from the Central Presbyterian Church.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Central Presbyterian Church, 1977 (1977.56)

Existance and Location of Copies

Transcriptions of portions of the diaries were made by Atlanta History Center volunteers in the 1980s. The transcriptions are maintained as part of the manuscript collection.

General Physical Description note

Extent: 1 linear ft. (2 boxes)

Description Control

Collection processed in 2007


The John Isham Papers ahc.MSS 232
An Inventory of His Papers at the Kenan Research Center at the Atlanta History Center
Inventory prepared by Michael Brubaker
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the Kenan Research Center at the Atlanta History Center Repository

130 West Paces Ferry Road
Atlanta GA 30305