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Robert S. Paden photographs and drawing

Collection number: ahc.VIS439

Scope and Contents

This collection contains photographs of five generations of the Smith-Steele-Medlock-Davenport family gathered for Elizabeth Hawkins Smith's 93rd birthday. Also included is a watercolor drawing of Jasper Smith (1836), Martha Ellen Smith Paden's brother, who died during the American Civil War. Of special note are photographs of “Auntie Gracie” and Wilkes Smith, two formerly enslaved people who worked for the Smith family. Robert S. Paden took the photograph of Wilkes Smith.


  • approximately 1895-1925, undated


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing 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.

Biographical / Historical

Robert S. Paden (1893-1973) was born to John Thomas Paden (1854-1910) and Martha “Mattie” Ellen Smith Paden (1864-1925). He had two siblings: William Lee Paden (1898-1963) and Minnie Paden (1891-1978). He was also the great-grandson of Robert Hiram Smith (1802-1875) and Elizabeth Hawkins Smith (1807-1901). Robert S. Paden served during World War I as a second lieutenant. Paden married Gertrude Teich (1898-1983) and they had three children: Ellen C. Paden Sims (1920-2014), Robert W. Paden (1923-2018), and Pat Paden (1931-1931). Elizabeth Hawkins Smith’s daughter, Martha Smith Steele (1830-1882), married Michael A. Steele (1821-1907) and had six children including Josephine Medlock (1853-1938). Josephine Medlock married Moore Clark Medlock (1842-1922) and had seven children including Mae Medlock Davenport (1875-1946). Mae had one daughter: Ella Mae Davenport (1894-1979).

Between 1835 and 1840, Paden’s great-grandfather, Robert Hiram Smith, built the Smith house, a typical plantation plain-style house in DeKalb County, Georgia. The house is often referred to as the Tullie Smith House, named after Tullie Smith (1886-1967), Robert Hiram Smith’s great-great-granddaughter and the last Smith to live in the house. In 1969, the Atlanta Historical Society acquired the house and it was moved to the Society's grounds for preservation and interpretation purposes. The house was subsequently restored and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and is one of the structures on the Smith Family Farm at the Atlanta History Center.


5 item(s) (4 black and white photographic prints and 1 watercolor drawing)




This collection is arranged alphabetically by titles supplied by staff.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift, 1972

Bias in Description

As archivists, we acknowledge our role as stewards of information. We choose how individuals and organizations are represented and described in our archives. We are not neutral, and bias is reflected in our descriptions, which may not accurately convey the racist or offensive aspects of collection materials. Archivists make mistakes and might use poor judgment. In working with this collection, we often re-use language used by the former owners of the material. This language provides context but often includes bias and prejudices reflective of the time in which it was created. The Kenan Research Center’s work is ongoing to implement reparative language where Library of Congress subject terms are inaccurate and obsolete.

Kenan Research Center welcomes feedback and questions regarding our archival descriptions. If you encounter harmful, offensive, or insensitive terminology or descriptions, please let us know by emailing Your comments are essential to our work to create inclusive and thoughtful description.


This collection was previously catalogued as PDN.

Processing Information

This collection was reprocessed in 2022.

Robert S. Paden photographs and drawing
Ariana Lee
October 2022
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Kenan Research Center at Atlanta History Center Repository

130 West Paces Ferry Road
Atlanta GA 30305