The Georgia Historical Society is one of the oldest, continuously operating state historical societies in the South. It was founded in 1839 and has its headquarters and research center here in Savannah but also has an office in Atlanta. The research center is located in the historic Hodgson Hall, which was built in 1876 and named after William Hodgson, an eminent 19th-century scholar and diplomat who could speak thirteen languages. He was also a member of the historical society and served as curator for many years. He married Mary Telfair, the daughter of Georgia Governor Edward Telfair, who made plans for the building's construction after William passed away. Hodgson Hall is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It was designed by architect Detlef Lienau, who introduced
The research center's collection is impressive. It contains 4 million manuscripts, 100,000 photographs, 30,000 architectural drawings, 15,000 rare books, and thousands of other items including maps, portraits, diaries, and artifacts. There many notable items including the compass and snuff box of Georgia founder James Oglethorpe; records of the Cherokee Removal on the Trail of Tears; correspondence of Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, Robert E. Lee, and Girl Scout founder Juliette G. Low.Unfortunately, Mary died before Hodgson Hall before her plans to build it could be put into action. Her sister took up the effort, however, and oversaw its construction and completion.