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This Day in Georgia History

July 05, 1981

Ellis Merton Coulter Died

Ellis Merton Coulter, one of Georgia’s most noted historians, died in Athens, Georgia. Born in North Carolina in 1890, he earned his undergraduate degree in history at the University of North Carolina, followed by an M.A. and Ph.D. in history from the University of Wisconsin. Coulter came to the University of Georgia in 1919, where he became a full professor, department head, and regents professor before his retirement in 1958. After retirement, he served as an emeritus professor of history. From his first-floor office and library in Phi Kappa Hall, he continued his research and writing into the 1970s. Coulter’s exclusive interests were the history of Georgia and of the South. During his lifetime, he produced numerous publications, but the most popular was his Georgia: A Short History. Coulter’s legacy would not be complete without noting that like many white southern historians of his era, he was a strong defender of the Confederate cause, post-war efforts by Democrats to “redeem” Georgia from Reconstruction, disfranchisement of blacks, and a segregated society. In the 1960s, he spoke out against federal efforts to guarantee civil and political rights to blacks. Likely, to the end, he remained true to his unreconstructed beliefs.