Photos sought for 'Then and Now' book

Over the past two-and-a-half centuries, Clayton County has transformed from a rural, farming community into a highly-populated suburb of Atlanta. Arcadia Publishing and Historical Jonesboro/Clayton County, Inc., are working together to capture the changes in a new book showcasing the county's visual history, from past to present.

Until October, Historical Jonesboro/Clayton County, Inc., will be collecting images of Clayton County, from the past and present, to be included in "Clayton County: Then and Now," its second joint publication with Arcadia Publishing, following "Images of America: Jonesboro."

According to Barbara Emert, president of the historical society, the new book will include historical images from all of Clayton's cities, side by side with present-day images of the same locations.

"Part of our mission, as a historical society, is to preserve images and photographs and this is a way to do that," Emert said. "Each city will be a chapter [in the book]. On each page, there will be two photographs. Say [for example] one will be a picture of the old [Clayton County] courthouse, then another will be what it looks like today. There might be a picture of Fort Gillem before the war, and we can have a picture of Fort Gillem when they are redeveloping it to be something entirely different.

"The Arcadia books are very well known to travelers," she continued. "You can go to just about any city of any size and find one of these books. The historic images, particularly of things that are no longer in existence ... it helps us know what the county looked like."

Until October, from Monday through Friday between 10 a.m., and 4 p.m., Historical Jonesboro/Clayton County, Inc., will schedule scanning appointments for local residents interested in having their pictures scanned into a database for potential use in the book project.

According to Emert, owners of the images will be asked to provide the exact location of the buildings and scenes depicted, and sign a release form granting permission for use of the images. The pictures will be immediately returned to the owner after they are scanned, she said.

Ray Muse, a board member of Historical Jonesboro/Clayton County, Inc., said "Clayton County: Then and Now" will be the county's first "direct comparison" of the past to the present. Muse said the book will help "preserve the history of Clayton County" and "teach it to our children."

"A lot of people, when you look at a site, you wonder what used to be there 100 years ago, or 50 years ago, or you might say, ‘Things have changed, but I don't know what used to be there,'" Muse said. "When I first used to drive here, Clayton County 50 years ago was nothing but farms. It's kind of fun and interesting to look back and see how things have grown. We're looking for pretty much anything, whether it be family farms ... or even the scenic views that now have schools, businesses and apartment complexes there."

The book is expected to be published in the spring of next year.

To schedule a scanning appointment, or for more information, call (770) 473-0197.