ALLIE CARROLL HART
2015 Inductee, Georgia Women of Achievement
City, Town, Region
Allie Hart grew up in a town steeped in history, so she acquired her deep love of history and the documents of the past at an early age. An outstanding student, Hart earned a scholarship to Brenau College (now University) and graduated with a B.A. in history in 1935. She continued her education at the University of Georgia earning an M.A. in history in 1939. Later she studied library science at Columbia University in New York City.
Thanks to her thirteen years of experience at the University library and her growing network of history and archives colleagues, Hart was hired as assistant to the director of the Georgia Department of Archives and History in Atlanta in 1957 under the supervision of director Mary Givens Bryan and the eye of legendary Secretary of State Ben Fortson. Soon after joining the Department, Hart attended the Archives Instituted sponsored by the National Archives and American University in Washington, D. C.
As part of Gov. Jimmy Carter’s reorganization plan, Hart formalized the state records management program so that agencies would know what needed to be preserved and what protocols to follow. Recognizing the poor condition of the records in many of Georgia’s 159 counties, Hart initiated a program to preserve the documents through microfilming. In 1966 the archives of the Georgia Historical Society in Savannah became a branch of the state archives, an arrangement that served to professionalize that venerable institution until it could obtain sufficient funding to resume its own control.
Always a teacher as well as an administrator, Hart believed passionately that archivists should be professionally trained. Accordingly, in 1967 she established the Georgia Archives Institute for the professional development of not only her own staff but of archivists from all across the state. The annual Institute continues today, and the SGA provides the Carroll Hart Scholarship to fund attendance. She also played a major role in the formation of the Southeast Archives and Records Conference. As “Director Emeritus,” so-named by Secretary of State David Poythress, Hart continued to be active following her retirement in 1982.
She served as historian for the First United Methodist Church, was actively involved in the Henry Walton Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, and was a member of numerous other local organizations. Hart had a passion for conservation, which led to the establishment of a conservation easement for a small wildlife preserve. An ardent supporter of the Georgia Wildlife Federation, Hart was especially fond of birds and butterflies, so she adorned her home with high-quality prints by James Audubon, John Abbot, and other artists.
Although from the 1950s forward Carroll Hart’s professional positions were in Athens and Atlanta, she always considered Madison home. She returned to live in Madison after her retirement, and “Miss Hart” continued as one of the town’s (Madison) most influential matriarchs until her death in 2003 at 90 years of age.