Public Records

City of Atlanta Building Permits, on microfilm at Atlanta History Center.  Document construction in 1921, remodeling and additions in 1956, 1970, 1976.

Fulton County Deed Books, 1890-1960, Fulton County Courthouse.  Document acquisition of property 1913, 1947, 1952, 1956.




Saunders’ “Bird’s-Eye Map of Atlanta” (1892) at the Atlanta Historical Society.  Documents the original church building on Airline Street along with the general appearance of the Old Fourth Ward at that time.

Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps, on microfilm at Georgia State University, 1911-1932.  These document the buildings in the area, including Ebenezer Baptist Church as it was completed in 1922.




Atlanta Constitution, Atlanta Journal, Atlanta Georgian, on microfilm at Atlanta-Fulton County Library.  These papers were not researched extensively, since the white dailies did not typically carry much news pertaining to the city’s African-American community.

Atlanta Daily World  Vol. 2 - Vol. 27, 1932 - 56.  Atlanta, Ga., Rare Periodicals and NewspapersCollection, Atlanta-Fulton Public Library System--Auburn Avenue Research Library. Excellent documentation for the historic period after 1932, including extensive coverage of Wurlitzer installation in 1940 and remodeling and addition in 1955-1956.

Atlanta Independent: Official Organ of the Grand United Order of Odd Fellows & Knights of Pythias.  Vol. 1, #27 - Vol. 27, #18, 23 Jan 1903 - 27 Dec 1928.  Atlanta, Ga., Rare Periodicals and Newspapers Collection, Atlanta-Fulton Public Library System--Auburn Avenue Research Library.  Excellent documentation for initial construction-related activity in 1913-1914.  Period of 1921-1922 was searched but little relevant documentation discovered.

The Blue Book of Southern Progress: Manufacturer’s Record, 1909, 1911, 1922-45.  No mention of Ebenezer is included in the available indices of these reports.

Ebony, Time, Newsweek, Life, and Look, Atlanta-Fulton County Public Library.  Coverage of funeral of Dr. King in 1968 included numerous photographs, including some color images of interior of sanctuary.




Martin Luther King, Jr.: His Life--His Death.  Ft.  Worth: Sepia Publishing Co., 1968.

Baldwin, Lewis V.  There Is a Balm in Gilead: The Cultural Roots of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1991.

Caldwell, A. B., ed. History of the American Negro and his Institutions, Georgia Edition.  Atlanta, 1917), Rare Books Col., Atlanta/Fulton Public Library System--Auburn Avenue Research Library.  Excellent documentation for the early history of the church.

Carson, Clayborn, ed.  The Papers of Martin Luther King, Jr.  University of California Press,

1992.  This work includes a comprehensive chronology of Dr. King’s life through 1956, including many details pertinent to Ebenezer.  The papers themselves do not offer any direct information about Ebenezer.

Dittmer, John. Black Georgia in the Progressive Era, 1900-1920 University of Illinois Press, 1980.

Ebenezer Baptist Church. Ebenezer: A Centennial Time Capsule, 1886-1986.  Ebenezer         Centennial Publishing Committee, 1991.  This modern history of the church repeats and sometimes misinterprets older sources of information.

Heyrman, Christine Leigh. Southern Cross: The Beginnings of the Bible Belt   New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1997.

King, Coretta Scott.  My Life With Martin Luther King, Jr.  New York: Holt & Co., 1969.  Little relevance to the architectural history of Ebenezer.

King, Rev. Martin Luther, Sr.  Daddy King: An Autobiography.  New York: William Morrow &

Co., 1980.  One of the best sources for information on the church’s history in the mid-twentieth century, including a few building-related details.

Kuhn, Clifford M., Harlon E. Joye & E. Bernard West.  Living Atlanta: An Oral History of the City, 1914-1948.  University of Georgia Press, 1990.

Mason, Herman “Skip”, Jr.  Going Against the Wind: A Pictorial History of African-Americans in Atlanta. Atlanta: Longstreet Press, 1992.

Porter, Michael Leroy. “Black Atlanta: An Interdisciplinary Study of Blacks on the East Side of Atlanta, 1890-1930.” Ph.D. dissertation, Emory Univ., 1974.

White, Dana F. “The Black Sides of Atlanta: A Geography of Expansion and Containment, 1870-1970.” The Atlanta Historical Journal 26 (Summer/Fall, 1982), pp. 199-225.



Unpublished Sources

Three anniversary service programs (1924, 1947, and 1961) are especially useful in documenting the building’s history.  Original copies of these programs have not been located during the course of this study.  In addition to the photographs reprinted in the anniversary programs, other historic photographs have been useful, although original prints of these photographs have been difficult to locate.  Exterior photographs of the church about were included in the 1924 and 1947 programs and an undated photograph of the front entrance in the 1930s can be found in NPS files.  Photographs of the exterior in 1956 and later and of the sanctuary in 1968 and later are numerous.  The earliest image of the interior is included in the 1947 program.  A rare view of the rear (north) end of the sanctuary on Easter 1962, an image of a banquet in the basement in the late 1930s, and an image of the basement stage in the early 1960s are also included in the NPS files.  David Stills has a small collection of historic photographs that includes images of the Wurlitzer and of the Hill-Green-Lane organs and which also document the appearance of the 1956 choir loft seating.  No historic photographs of the vestibule, stairwells, or other areas of the building have been located.


Oral Interviews

The current pastor, church secretary and several church members whose memories encompass the historic period were interviewed during the course of this study.  Most helpful were those with Miss Lillian Watkins, who was Rev. King, Sr.’s secretary through his long tenure as pastor at the church; retired church organist David Stills, who grew up in the church and became church organist in the early 1950s; Mr. and Mrs. Jethro English, Jr., who also grew up in the church, with his father being a member of the original building committee in 1914; and Mrs. Shirley Barnhardt, a third-generation member of the church.   A telephone interview with Mrs. Christine King Farris, Dr. King’s sister, was also extremely helpful, but additional interviews with her, Miss Watkins, Mr. Stills, the Englishes, and others are needed to confirm details about the building’s historical evolution and to provide additional information to support the NPS’s interpretive program for the site.