Papers of Professor R. Frank Saunders, Jr., now available


Dr. Saunders and Dr. Rogers

A scion of some of the oldest families of Bulloch County – his great-grandfather was Confederate veteran Zachary Taylor DeLoach – Dr. R. Frank (Richard Frank) Saunders, Jr. (1934-2008) lived most of his life on ancestral farmlands near Portal. This family background undoubtedly spurred an early interest in understanding and tracing the course of local and state history.  He attended local schools and earned his first degree here at what was then Georgia Teachers College in 1957. He had become a member of the History Department faculty here by the time he acquired a doctorate from the University of Georgia in 1970, teaching principally Georgia History but also undergraduate courses in world and US history, and such specialties as Colonial History, Historiography and Historic Preservation, until his retirement in 1996.  Seven boxes of the 23 which constitute the Saunders collection cover the years of his education and of his own teaching here. But he was also very busy with arranging conferences – such as those at Georgia Southern on the Bicentennial of the American Revolution (1976), the Constitution (1988) and the Bill of Rights (1991) – and later helping with local projects such as the Bulloch County Bicentennial (1996) and the Portal Centennial (2008) – all the while working on research and presentations and publications.  The late Dr. George A. Rogers had been Saunders’ professor during his years as an undergraduate, and was later his co-author, and always friend and mentor. Their collaboration culminated in the 1984 publication of Swamp Water and Wiregrass: Historical Sketches of Coastal Georgia, mostly dealing with an intensive view of the history of Liberty County, the result of many years of research.

Dr. Saunders and Dr. Rogers were pioneers of Special Collections. Both were aggressive in acquiring the papers of prominent people and organizations of south Georgia and in conducting oral history projects. President Dale Lick was a strong supporter of these efforts, as was the head of the History Department, Dr. Walter J. Fraser, himself heavily involved in collecting and oral histories, especially of Savannah. Other History faculty were also active, as were faculty in other areas, such as Dr. Dan Good of Geography, Dr. Kemp Mabry of Education,  and Dr. Delma E. Presley of English.

In 1994, Dr. Saunders received the Governor’s Award in the Humanities for his founding and operation of the Georgia History Quiz Bowl from 1982 until that year.

Dr. Saunders with then-Gov. Zell Miller

Dr. Saunders with then-Gov. Zell Miller

He continued various research projects after his retirement, several left unfinished.  Upon his death, a resolution in his honor was passed by the Georgia Senate:

A full file-level inventory of the Saunders papers is now available in Special Collections and will soon be available on EagleScholar.

Check out Dr. Saunders’ books, manuscripts, and other related items in our collection here.

Marvin Goss

Head of Special Collections

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