The Atlanta History Center offers lectures on a wide variety of topics, from presidential history and gardens to social history and non-fiction adventures. Each lecture program is designed to join authors and audiences in an intimate setting complete with author presentation, audience discussions, and book signings.

Past lecturers have included such world-renowned authors as Walter Isaacson, James McPherson, Kelly Corrigan, and Alice Hoffman. The Atlanta History Center’s spring/summer lecture line-up continues to offer audiences a wide variety of subject matter with current and award-winning authors.  

The series kicks off with beloved travel author Frances Mayes, discussing her new book Under Magnolia, and continues on through July featuring authors such as bestselling chef personalities Gina and Pat Neely, award-winning journalist Jennifer Senior, beloved author and radio personality Garrison Keilor, and New York Times bestselling author Peter Heller.

Lectures are held at either the Atlanta History Center in Buckhead or at the Margaret Mitchell House in Midtown. At each lecture, guests receive a 25% discount on the featured author’s book. Admission to all lectures is $5 for members, $10 for nonmembers, and free to AHC Insiders unless noted otherwise. Reservations are required; please call 404.814.4150 or purchase advance tickets online at  

April 2014                                                                                                                                                        

Frances Mayes, Under Magnolia: A Southern Memoir

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

7:00 pm

Location: Margaret Mitchell House

The author of three beloved books about her life in Italy, Frances Mayes revisits the turning points that defined her early years in Fitzgerald, Georgia. With her signature style and grace, Mayes explores the power of landscape, the idea of home, and the lasting force of a chaotic and loving family. From her years as a spirited, secretive child, through her university studies—a period of exquisite freedom that imbued her with a profound appreciation of friendship and a love of travel—to her escape to a new life in California, Mayes exuberantly recreates the intense relationships of her past, recounting the bitter and sweet stories of her complicated family: her beautiful yet fragile mother, Frankye; her unpredictable father, Garbert; Daddy Jack, whose life Garbert saved; grandmother Mother Mayes; and the family maid, Frances’s confidant Willie Bell.Under Magnolia is a searingly honest, humorous, and moving ode to family and place, and a thoughtful meditation on the ways they define us, or cause us to define ourselves. With acute sensory language, Mayes relishes the sweetness of the South, the smells and tastes at her family table, the fragrance of her hometown trees, and writes an unforgettable story of a girl whose perspicacity and dawning self-knowledge lead her out of the South and into the rest of the world, and then to a profound return home.

An Evening with Gina and Pat Neely, Back Home with the Neely’s

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

7:00 pm

Location: Atlanta History Center

Pat and Gina Neely are known for a few things, among them: food and family. In their third cookbook, the best-selling Neely couple returns to their down home roots with classic Southern recipes passed down through generations. Through recipes framed by childhood memories, we're drawn into the kitchens of their mothers and grandmothers and back to a time when produce came from the backyard garden and catfish was caught on afternoon fishing trips with Grandpa. In their signature style, Pat and Gina have taken the recipes they were raised on and updated them to make them more approachable for today's readers.

Arrive early for samples of recipes featured in Back Home with the Neely’s and prepared by Viking Store & Cooking School chefs.

An Evening with Jennifer Senior, All Joy and No Fun

Wednesday April 23, 2014

8:00 pm

Location: Atlanta History Center

Thousands of books have examined the effects of parents on their children. In All Joy and No Fun award-winning journalist Jennifer Senior now asks: what are the effects of children on their parents? Senior tackles this question, isolating and analyzing the many ways in which children reshape their parents' lives, whether it's their marriages, their jobs, their habits, their hobbies, their friendships, or their internal senses of self. She argues that changes in the last half century have radically altered the roles of today's mothers and fathers, making their mandates at once more complex and far less clear.

Recruiting from a wide variety of sources—in history, sociology, economics, psychology, philosophy, and anthropology—she dissects both the timeless strains of parenting and the ones that are brand new, and then brings her research to life in the homes of ordinary parents around the country. The result is an unforgettable series of family portraits, starting with parents of young children and progressing to parents of teens. Through lively and accessible storytelling, Senior follows these mothers and fathers as they wrestle with some of parenthood's deepest vexations—and luxuriate in some of its finest rewards.

Jennifer Senior is a contributing editor at New York Magazine, where she writes profiles and cover stories about politics and social science. She has been a frequent guest on NPR and numerous television programs, including Charlie Rose, The Chris Matthews Show, Hardball, Morning Joe, Washington Journal with Brian Lamb, CNN/American Morning, and NBC/Today. She is a regular contributor to the New York Times Book Review. She lives in New York with her husband and young son.

Support: This is the eighteenth annual Sidney Isenberg Lecture. The Sidney Isenberg Lectures have been established by his friends, colleagues, and family as an expression of love and appreciation for his values and commitment to the healing process and to the advancement of learning and growth – affirming his conviction that the human relationship is the agency through which change comes about.

Civil War to Civil Rights Lecture Series: Todd Purdum, An Idea Whose Time Has Come: Two Presidents, Two Parties and the Battle for the Civil Rights Act of 1964

Thursday, April 24, 2014

8:00 pm

Location: Atlanta History Center

In a powerful narrative layered with revealing detail, Todd S. Purdum tells the story of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, recreating the legislative maneuvering and the larger-than-life characters who made its passage possible. From the Kennedy brothers to Lyndon Johnson, from Martin Luther King Jr. to Hubert Humphrey and Everett Dirksen,

Purdum shows how these all-too-human figures managed, in just over a year, to create a bill that prompted the longest filibuster in the history of the U.S. Senate yet was ultimately adopted with overwhelming bipartisan support. He evokes the high purpose and low dealings that marked the creation of this monumental law, drawing on extensive archival research and dozens of new interviews that bring to life this signal achievement in American history.

Todd Purdum is a contributing editor at Vanity Fair and Politico. He lives in D.C. with his wife, Dee Dee Myers.

Support:Civil Rights 50 lectures are presented through the generous support of Vicki and Howard Palefsky.

Cherokee Garden Library Lecture: Kathryn Holland Braund, William Bartram’s Surprising Travels

Sunday, April 27, 2014

3:00 pm

Location: Atlanta History Center

Kathryn Braund, Hollifield Professor of Southern History, Auburn University, is an expert in the ethnohistory of Creek and Seminole Indians in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Among her many publications, she is the co-author with Gregory A. Waselkov of William Bartram on the Southeastern Indians (1995) and co-editor with Charlotte M. Porter of Fields of Vision: Essays on the Travels of William Bartram (2010).

Lecture followed by a special exploration of Bartrams’ flora in the Mary Howard Gilbert Memorial Quarry Garden led by Sarah Roberts, Atlanta History Center Director of Historic Gardens and Living Collections. Lecture and garden tour followed by a light reception.

May 2014

Victoria Wilcox, Gone West

Saturday, May 10, 2014

2:00 pm

Location: Margaret Mitchell House 

The name Doc Holliday conjures images of the Wild West and the shootout at the OK Corral, but before he was a Western legend he was a Southern son, born in the last days of the Old South with family links to the author of Gone With the Wind.  Now the amazing story introduced in Inheritance, the first book in the trilogy of Southern Son: The Saga of Doc Holliday, continues in Gone West.

The American Wild West, 1873:  Jesse James and his gang are robbing trains, the Sioux Indians are on the warpath, and John Henry Holliday arrives in Texas as a young man with a troubled past hoping to regain his place as a Southern gentleman.  Starting over in Texas, he attempts to remake his career and win back the respect of his family and the love of the girl he left behind. But his life in the West doesn’t turn out the way he has planned, and soon he’s in trouble with the law again and facing a terrifying truth.

Gone West is the story of how a gentleman becomes an outlaw, how an outlaw becomes a lawman, and how a Southern son named John Henry becomes a legend called Doc Holliday.

An Evening with Garrison Keillor, The Keillor Reader

Thursday, May 15, 2014

8:00 pm

Location: Atlanta History Center

Join the Atlanta History Center for an evening you won’t soon forget, as Garrison Keillor takes to the stage to share stories, poems and essays from The Keillor Reader

When, at thirteen, he caught on as a sportswriter for the Anoka Herald, Garrison Keillor set out to become a professional writer, and so he has done. The Keillor Reader brings together the full range of his work, including monologues from A Prairie Home Companion, stories from The New Yorker and The Atlantic, excerpts from novels, newspaper columns, and pieces never before published, including the essays “Cheerfulness” and “What We Have Learned So Far.”                                                                                                                    

In a vibrant blend of nonfiction, fiction, and straight-up parody, Keillor once again draws on his lifetime of experience among the hardworking, God-fearing people of the Midwest and pays homage to their stories as a lens on our national zeitgeist. The collection features familiar characters such as Guy Noir, cowboys Dusty and Lefty, and many more favorites from Lake Wobegon, the town dubbed the “Gateway to Central Minnesota.”

Garrison Keillor is the founder and host of A Prairie Home Companion, celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2014. He is the author of nineteen books of fiction and humor, the editor of the Good Poems collections, and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. A Minnesota native, he lives in St. Paul and New York City.

Ellen Gilchrist, Acts of God

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

7:00 pm

Location: Margaret Mitchell House

Ellen Gilchrist returns after eight years with a new short story collection, Acts of God, which follows ten scenarios thematically linked about people dealing with forces beyond their control who somehow manage to survive, persevere, and even triumph. Readers are given a glimpse into the vitality, fear, the joy and redemption of those who remain on this earth.

Hailed as a national cultural treasure by The Washington Post, Ellen Gilchrist is the distinguished author of more than twenty works, including Victory Over Japan, which won the National Book Award. She lives in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

Civil War 150 Program: A Changing Wind: Commerce and Conflict in Civil War Atlanta, Wendy Hamand Venet

Thursday, May 22, 2014

8:00 pm

Location: Atlanta History Center

In the Civil War, Atlanta was a thriving Confederate city, second only to Richmond in importance. A Changing Wind explores the experiences of Atlanta’s civilians during the city’s rapid growth, Civil War siege and devastation, Reconstruction, and emergence as a New South city. A rich account of residents’ changing loyalties to the Union and the Confederacy, the book highlights the economic and social impacts of the war and Atlanta’s stunning postwar rebirth. The final chapter focuses on Atlanta’s historical memory of the Civil War and how racial divisions led to separate commemorations of the war’s meaning.

Wendy Hamand Venet is a professor in the Department of History at Georgia State University. She is editor of Sam Richards’s Civil War Diary and lives in Decatur, Georgia.

Support: Civil War 150 lectures are presented through the generous support of Vicki and Howard Palefsky. This program is presented in partnership with Buckhead Heritage Society.

June 2014

Civil War to Civil Rights Lecture Series: Jeff Shaara, Smoke at Dawn

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

8:00 pm

Location: Atlanta History Center

New York Times bestselling author Jeff Shaara returns to the Civil War terrain he knows so well, with the latest novel in the series that started with A Blaze of Glory and A Chain of Thunder. In The Smoke at Dawn, the last great push of the Army of the Cumberland sets the stage for a decisive confrontation at Chattanooga that could determine the outcome of the war.  

Blending evocative historical detail with searing depictions of battle, Jeff Shaara immerses readers in the world of commanders and common soldiers, civilians and statesmen. From the Union side come the voices of Generals Grant, William Tecumseh Sherman, and George Thomas—the vaunted “Rock of Chickamauga”—as well as the young private Fritz “Dutchie” Bauer. From the Rebel ranks come Generals Bragg, Patrick Cleburne, and James Longstreet, as well as the legendary cavalry commander, Nathan Bedford Forrest. A tale of history played out on a human scale in the grand Shaara tradition, The Smoke at Dawn vividly recreates the climactic months of the war in the West, when the fate of a divided nation truly hangs in the balance.

Support:Civil War 150 lectures are presented through the generous support of Vicki and Howard Palefsky.

Cherokee Garden Library Lecture: Philip Juras, Searching for the Southern Frontier: Landscapes Inspired by Bartram’s Travels

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

7:00 pm

Location: Atlanta History Center

Juras is an artist and author focused on natural landscapes that offer a glimpse of the Southeast before European settlement. In conjunction with an exhibition of his paintings, the book Philip Juras: The Southern Frontier: Landscapes Inspired by Bartram’s Travels was published by Telfair Museums and is distributed by

the University of Georgia Press. In 2012 The Southern Frontier earned Juras the Georgia Author of the Year Award in the Specialty Book category from the Georgia Writers Association. His lecture is followed by a book signing, an exploration of Following in the Bartrams’ Footsteps, and refreshments.      

Bernard Kinsey, What You Didn’t Learn in High School History

Friday, June 6, 2014

Reception 6:00 pm, Lecture 7:30 pm

Experience a dynamic evening of enlightenment and inspiration as historian and renowned art collector Bernard Kinsey takes you on a journey of discovery through many untold stories of African American history, accomplishments, and contributions.

Kinsey debunks the more than 400-year-old “myth of absence” in American history, drawing from the extensive collection of artistic and historical treasures amassed in The Kinsey Collection. He reveals long ignored stories of the roles African Americans played in the making of America. Book signing follows the lecture. Copies of The Kinsey collection book are available before and after the program.

Evening program also includes a viewing of Wells Fargo’s nationally traveling exhibition The Kinsey Collection: Shared Treasures of Bernard and Shirley Kinsey, Where Art and History Intersect. The Kinsey Collection exhibition is on display at the Atlanta History Center through July 13, 2014.

Peter Heller, The Painter

Monday, June 9, 2014

7:00 pm

Location: Margaret Mitchell House

Peter Heller, the celebrated author of the breakout best seller The Dog Stars, returns with an achingly beautiful, wildly suspenseful second novel about an artist trying to outrun his past. 

Jim Stegner has seen his share of violence and loss. Years ago he shot a man in a bar. His marriage disintegrated. He grieved the one thing he loved. In the wake of tragedy, Jim, a well-known expressionist painter, abandoned the art scene of Santa Fe to start fresh in the valleys of rural Colorado. Now he spends his days painting and fly-fishing, trying to find a way to live with the dark impulses that sometimes overtake him. He works with a lovely model. His paintings fetch excellent prices. But one afternoon, on a dirt road, Jim comes across a man beating a small horse, and a brutal encounter rips his quiet life wide open.

Peter Heller is the best-selling author of The Dog Stars. He holds an MFA from the Iowa Writers' Workshop in both fiction and poetry. An award-winning adventure writer and a longtime contributor to NPR, Heller is a contributing editor at Outside magazine, Men's Journal, and National Geographic Adventure, and a regular contributor to Bloomberg BusinessWeek. He is also the author of several nonfiction books, including Kook, The Whale Warriors, and Hell or High Water: Surviving Tibet's Tsangpo River. He lives in Denver, Colorado.

Graeme Simsion, The Rosie Project

Friday, June 20, 2014


Location: Margaret Mitchell House

The art of love is never a science: Meet Don Tillman, a brilliant yet socially inept professor of genetics, who’s decided it’s time he found a wife. In the orderly, evidence-based manner with which Don approaches all things, he designs The Wife Project to find his perfect partner: a sixteen-page, scientifically valid survey to filter out the drinkers, the smokers, the late arrivers.Rosie Jarman possesses all these qualities. Don easily disqualifies her as a candidate for The Wife Project (even if she is “quite intelligent for a barmaid”). But Don is intrigued by Rosie’s own quest to identify her biological father. When an unlikely relationship develops as they collaborate on The Father Project, Don is forced to confront the spontaneous whirlwind that is Rosie―and the realization that, despite your best scientific efforts, you don’t find love, it finds you.

Graeme Simsion is a former IT consultant and the author of two nonfiction books on database design who decided at the age of fifty to turn his hand to fiction. The Rosie Project is his first novel, and was featured on several Best of 2013 lists. The screen adaption has been optioned by Sony Pictures. Graeme lives in Australia with his wife, Anne, and their two children, and is currently working on a sequel to The Rosie Project.

Mary Alice Monroe and Patti Callahan Henry, The Summer Wind and The Stories We Tell

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

7:00 pm

Location: Margaret Mitchell House

Join the Margaret Mitchell House for an evening with two beloved Southern authors as we celebrate the release of their addictive summer reads.

The Summer Wind is the much anticipated follow-up to Mary Alice Monroe’s New York Times bestseller The Summer Girls. Monroe draws readers back to the unspoiled beauty of Sullivan’s Island, South Carolina for the second installment in an emotional trilogy about sisterhood, second chances, and lifelong bonds. Mary Alice Monroe is the author of over a dozen award winning and critically acclaimed novels, several non-fiction titles, and children's books. Her body of work reflects her commitment to the natural world through literature.

In The Stories We Tell, Patti Callahan Henry returns with a tense family drama about secrets and lies, and the cost of finally telling the truth. Patti Callahan Henry is a full-time writer, wife, and mother, and the New York Times bestselling author of eight novels, including Between the Tides, And Then I Found You, and The Perfect Love Song: A Holiday Story. Patti lives with her husband and three children in Mountain Brook, Alabama, where she is working on her next novel.

Elson Lecture: Daniel Vermilya, The Battle of Kennesaw Mountain

Thursday, June 26, 2014

8:00 pm

Location: Atlanta History Center

In the summer of 1864, Georgia was the scene of one of the most important campaigns of the Civil War. William Tecumseh Sherman’s push southward toward Atlanta threatened the heart of the Confederacy, and Joseph E. Johnston and the Army of Tennessee were the Confederacy’s best hope to defend it. In June, Johnston managed to grind Sherman’s advance to a halt northwest of Atlanta at Kennesaw Mountain. After weeks of maneuvering, on June 27, Sherman launched a bold attack on Johnston’s lines. The Confederate victory was one of the bloodiest days of the entire campaign. And while Sherman’s assaults had a frightful cost, Union forces learned important lessons at Kennesaw Mountain that enabled the fall of Atlanta several months later.

Daniel Vermilya is a Civil War historian who works as a park ranger at Antietam National Battlefield and Gettysburg National Military Park. In 2012, he was the first recipient of the Save Historic Antietam Foundation’s Joseph L. Harsh Memorial Scholar Award. Daniel received his bachelor’s degree from Hillsdale College, where he studied both history and politics. He also holds a master’s degree in history from John Carroll University.

July 2014

Jo Baker, Longbourn

Thursday, July 17, 2014 

7:00 pm

Location: Margaret Mitchell House

The servants take center stage in this irresistibly imagined belowstairs answer to Pride and Prejudice. While Elizabeth Bennet and her sisters fuss over balls and husbands, Sarah, their orphaned housemaid, is beginning to chafe against the boundaries of her class. When a new footman arrives at Longbourn under mysterious circumstances, the carefully choreographed world she has known all her life threatens to be completely, perhaps irrevocably, upended. Mentioned only fleetingly in Jane Austen’s classic, here Jo Baker dares to take us beyond the drawing rooms of Regency England and, in doing so, uncovers the real world of the novel that has captivated readers’ hearts around the world for generations.

Jo Baker was born in Lancashire, England, and educated at Oxford University and Queen’s University Belfast. She is the author of the novels The Under­tow, Offcomer, The Mermaid’s Child, and The Telling. She lives in Lancaster.


About Us

The Atlanta History Center is an all-inclusive destination featuring the Atlanta History Museum; two historic houses, 1928 Swan House and 1860 Smith Family Farm; the Centennial Olympic Games Museum; Kenan Research Center; Grand Overlook event space; Chick-Fil-A at the Coca-Cola Café, a museum shop, and the Goizueta Gardens, featuring 22 acres of gardens, walkways, paths and trails. In addition, the History Center operates the Margaret Mitchell House located in Midtown Atlanta.