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Terrell Family Papers

Collection number: ahc.MSS238

Scope and Content

The scope of this collection ranges through two generations of the Terrell Family. Beginning with the papers of John Terrell and continuing with the papers of his son, Ralph Terrell and John Terrell’s daughter, Evelyn. The early papers include materials collected by John Terrell in his career as a fireman. These papers include correspondence, fraternal order membership cards, and newspaper clippings. Significant additions to the collection are two diaries for the years 1930 and 1931. The entries, for the most part, concern John Terrell’s activities while he served as Fire Chief. The papers of Ralph Terrell document his efforts to establish a career in the military. Early correspondence records his educational efforts at the North Georgia Agricultural College and his enlistments in the Army and the Coast Guard. Although the records of Evelyn Terrell are few, these papers document her education from Girls’ High School through the Atlanta division of the University of Georgia Business School. There are also some miscellaneous papers including a business card from Jacob’s Pharmacy, a 1949 street guide of Atlanta, and a memorial card for the death of Rotha Terrell.


  • 1869-1950


Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Reproduction and Use

Unpublished manuscripts are protected by copyright.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

Administrative/Biographical History

John Terrell was born in the town of Orange, Cherokee County, Georgia on 24 December 1869. For one year he taught school in the Ball Ground schools in 1889-90. He married Ms. Leona Little, in Cobb County, 4 June 1891. John and Leona Terrell had five children that lived to adulthood: two sons: Ralph Terrell (1892-1973), Royal Terrell (1902-1983); and three daughters: Evelyn (1912-1980), Ruby, and Renee. Shortly after their marriage, the Terrells moved to Atlanta and where he joined the Atlanta City Fire Department. He earned a variety of promotions and was named Chief of the Atlanta Fire Department in 1929. He held the position until his death on 27 February 1933. Chief Terrell was killed in an auto accident while responding to a fire alarm. Ironically, the alarm turned out to be false. Although there is limited genealogical information regarding the Terrell children, some details are available. Ralph Terrell (1892-1973) attended North Georgia Agricultural College before entering the military. He served in both World War I and World War II. The second son, Royal Terrell (1902-1983) was a graduate of Georgia Institute of Technology and also the Harvard Business School. He worked in the National Manufacturing Stores in Atlanta. He died on 21 December 1983. Evelyn Terrell (1912- 1980) also lived in Atlanta her entire life. She was a graduate of Girls High and the Atlanta division of the University of Georgia. She worked for CPA International Inc. for 37 years before retiring. She died on 26 January 1980. No information has been found regarding the lives of Ruby and Renee Terrell. There was also at least one child that died young. Rotha Terrell, 7 months old, died 1 January 1903.


0.63 linear ft.



System of Arrangement

These papers are arranged generationally, beginning with the papers of John Terrell, continuing with the papers of his son Ralph Terrell, and the papers of John Terrell’s young daughter, Evelyn Terrell. Finally, some miscellaneous materials conclude the collection.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Mr. Royal Terrell and Miss Evelyn Terrell, 1978 (1978.425)

General Physical Description note

Extent: .63 linear ft. (1 document case, ½ document case)

Description Control

Collection processed in 2007.

Terrell Family Papers ahc.MSS 238
An Inventory of Their Papers at the Kenan Research Center at the Atlanta History Center
Inventory prepared by Michael Brubaker
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the Kenan Research Center at Atlanta History Center Repository

130 West Paces Ferry Road
Atlanta GA 30305