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Sam Massell photographs

Collection number: ahc.VIS322

Scope and Content

This collection documents the public life of former Atlanta Mayor Sam Massell. The majority of the images in the collection depict his time as mayor; others document his career as a realtor and member of the City of Atlanta Board of Aldermen. The images also document Massell's ceremonial duties as mayor, including presiding over groundbreakings; presenting keys to the city to special visitors; and ceremonies involving MARTA and Delta Airlines. The collection features images of Massell hosting political figures, including George McGovern, Hubert Humphrey, Ed Muskie, and John Lindsay. In addition, there are images of Massell with Atlanta political and civic leaders such as Ivan Allen, Jr., Maynard Jackson, and Coretta Scott King. He was photographed with several celebrities such as Burt Reynolds, Rock Hudson, Eartha Kitt, Johnny Cash, and Jerry Lewis. Other images include Massell at awards ceremonies and addressing civic groups at civic events, including the Atlanta chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP); National League of Cities conventions; and an event at the Atlanta Stadium led by evangelist Billy Graham. The collection contains hundreds of formal portraits of Massell, as well as images of him giving speeches and working in his office.


  • 1954-1991, undated
  • Majority of material found within 1969 - 1974


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

Sam Massell (1927- ) was born in Atlanta, Georgia, to Samuel A. Massell Sr., (1892-1961) and Florence Rubin (1901-1977). Massell married Doris Middlebrooks (1925-2015) in 1952, and the couple had three children together. After attending Druid Hills High School, Massell attended the University of Georgia and then later transferred to Emory University. He was drafted into the US Army Air Forces in 1946 and served until 1947. Upon his return he re-enrolled at University of Georgia to complete his academic career. Massell went on to earn degrees from several different institutions, including Georgia State University, Atlanta Law School, Georgia Tech, and Woodrow Wilson College of Law. Sam Massell began his first career as a realtor, as the Vice President of Allan-Grayson Realty Company and worked in commercial property development over a period of eighteen years. Massell was active in numerous civic groups and served on the board of over forty-five different organizations in and for the city of Atlanta. In 1961 Sam Massell was elected as Vice Mayor, a position which also conferred upon him the role of President of the Board of Aldermen, to which he was re-elected four years later. In October 1969, Sam Massell was elected Mayor of Atlanta; he served one term as Mayor before returning to private life and the real estate business.


4745 image(s) (2542 black and white photographic prints, 1697 black and white negatives, 281 color photographic prints, 165 color negatives, 60 color slides, eight drawings, and two black and white slides)



System of Arrangement

This collection is arranged alphabetically according to titles supplied by staff.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift, 1991

Relatated Archival Materials

Sam Massell papers, MSS 695, Kenan Research Center at the Atlanta History Center

Description Control

This collection was processed in 2018.

Sam Massell Photographs
Serena McCracken
October 2018
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid is written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the Kenan Research Center at Atlanta History Center Repository

130 West Paces Ferry Road
Atlanta GA 30305