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Horace T. Ward papers

Collection number: ahc.MSS1264

Scope and Contents

This collection contains the professional and personal papers of the Honorable Horace Taliaferro Ward. Records include articles and newspaper clippings, awards, court case documents, and event programs. Also included are speeches and publications from organizations of which Ward was a member such as the National Bar Association. Additionally, there is correspondence with Ward's mother, Minnie Harrison, and records from Ward's wife, Ruth LeFlore Ward. Of particular interest is correspondence with attorneys Austin (A.T.) Walden and Donald Hollowell during Ward’s case against the University of Georgia as well as with Dr. William Boyd, Atlanta University professor and President of the State Conference of the Georgia National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). The transcript of Ward's deposition in the civil action case, Horace T. Ward vs. Regents of the University System of Georgia in 1956 is also included.


  • 1939-2016, 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Unpublished manuscripts are protected by copyright.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

Horace Taliaferro Ward (1927-2016) was born in LaGrange, Georgia. As a very young child he lived with his grandparents, Isaiah and Emma Ward, while his mother, Minnie (Ward) Harrison (1914-2012) lived and worked away from home. In 1933, Minnie Ward married Richard Harrison (1903-1995) at which time Horace Ward was raised by his mother and stepfather. Ward graduated from East Depot Street High School as valedictorian in 1946. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Morehouse College in 1949 and a Master of Arts degree from Atlanta University in 1950.

In 1950, Ward was the first Black person to formally seek admission to the University of Georgia School of Law. The University denied his admission and offered out-of-state tuition aid as was the practice of the time of racially segregated colleges and universities. Ward filed a lawsuit against the University claiming that his admission denial was based on his race. The case was delayed due to Ward’s military service and eventually dismissed in 1957. During this time, Ward taught at Arkansas Agricultural, Mechanical & Normal College from 1950-1951 and The Alabama State College for Negroes (later The Alabama State College) from 1951-1953 and 1955-1956. He also served in the United States Army from 1953-1955, including one year of service in Korea. Ward was admitted to Northwestern University School of Law in Evanston, Illinois, and graduated with a Juris Doctor Degree in 1959.

Horace Ward married Ruth (LeFlore) Ward (1926-1976) of Mobile, Alabama, in 1956. Ruth Ward graduated from Saint Augustine’s College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1945 and Atlanta University with a Master of Science in Library Science in 1963. She had one son prior to marrying Horace Ward, Theodore Johnson Ward (1948-1988), whom he adopted. She worked for the Atlanta Board of Education as a teacher and librarian. Ruth LeFlore Ward was murdered in 1976.

Ward returned to Georgia to practice law with the firm Hollowell, Ward, Moore & Alexander from 1960-1974. In 1961, Ward and his colleagues litigated to desegregate the University of Georgia when Hamilton Holmes and Charlene Hunter were admitted as the first Black students. Ward served as a Deputy City Attorney of Atlanta, an Assistant Fulton County Attorney, and as Georgia’s second African American state senator since the Reconstruction Period. Governor Jimmy Carter appointed Ward to the Civil Court of Fulton County in 1974, and Governor George Busbee elevated him to the Superior Court of Fulton County in 1977. President Jimmy Carter appointed Ward to the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia in 1979. Horace Ward was Georgia’s first African American trial court judge and federal court judge. Ward served as an active United States District Court judge until 1994 when he took senior status as a Senior United States District Court judge. Judge Ward retired in 2012.


17.84 linear ft. (31 document cases, three oversize boxes, and one audio microcassette)




This collection is arranged alphabetically by titles supplied by staff.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

Audio recordings were made on Sony MC-60 microcassette tape 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, 2023

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.

Horace T. Ward papers
Sara Matthews and Ginny Van Winkle
January 2024
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