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Bazoline E. Usher papers

Collection number: ahc.MSS1239

Scope and Contents

This collection contains papers pertaining to Bazoline Usher’s career in Atlanta Public Schools and her community involvement. Included are two scrapbook, one that documents her retirement; and one with photos and cards from her 100th birthday celebration, awards and certificates, newspaper clippings, Friendship Baptist Church event programs, and information about the Girl Scouts. Of particular note are interviews with Usher saved on cassettes and an oral history transcript from the Black Women Oral History Project at Radcliff Institute’s Schlesinger Library. Also included are publications about Dr. Jane E. Smith (1946-2020), Executive Director of the Center for Leadership and Civic Engagement at Spelman College.


  • 1921-2005, undated


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Unpublished manuscripts are protected by copyright. All requests to publish, quote, or reproduce must be submitted through the Kenan Research Center.

Biographical / Historical

Bazoline Estelle Usher (1885-1992) was born in Walnut Springs, Georgia, the eldest of four children born to Lavada Smith (1869-1950) and Joseph Samuel Usher (1866-1949). In 1892 she started her studies at Atlanta University's Normal School, and in 1906, she graduated from Atlanta University (later called Clark Atlanta University). After graduating, she taught school in Lawrenceville, Virginia, for ten years, before returning to Atlanta in 1915. Usher adopted her niece, Lavada Johnson Smith (1923-1997), after her sister, Daisy Johnson (1894-1930) died. She rose through the administrative ranks in the Atlanta Public Schools (APS) while earning a Masters in Education at Atlanta University, which she completed in 1938.

Usher served as principal at David T. Howard Grammar School for 15 years, the first African American school in Atlanta with an all Black faculty. In 1954, APS appointed her Director and Supervisor of Negro Schools. Before she retired in 1945, she oversaw the opening of seven elementary schools. Following her retirement, Usher taught for three years at Spelman College. In 1943, she and Grace Towns Hamilton (1907-1992) spear-headed the introduction of the Girl Scouts to Black girls in Atlanta; the Atlanta Girl Scouts elected her to their board in 1952. Usher was also a founding member of the Uplifters Club, an auxiliary of Friendship Baptist Church, that focused on fundraising, elder assistance, and cultural events. In 1989, APS renamed Harwell Road Elementary School in Collier Heights Bazoline Usher Elementary School. In 2014, she was inducted into the Georgia Women of Achievement Hall of Fame.


1.8 linear ft. (one document case, one half document case, one oversize box, and two cassettes)




This collection is arranged alphabetically by titles supplied by staff.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

Audio recordings were made on cassettes and can be made accessible only through conversion to digital surrogates. Patrons who request access to the audio content in this collection are responsible for digital conversion costs.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift, 2005

Related Materials

Visual materials have been separated from the collection. Please contact an archivist for access to these materials.

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.

Processing Information

This collection was processed in 2023.

Bazoline E. Usher papers
Erica Freed
January 2023
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