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Richard T. Elzroth

Richard T. Eltzroth
SGA Fellow
Class of 2010

Richard T. Eltzroth (1921-2001) retired as a decorated U.S. Army officer, and embarked on second distinguished career as an archivist. Hired in 1969, he was responsible for the original establishment and organization of the archives at the Atlanta Historical Society (now the Atlanta History Center). He went on to make outstanding contributions to genealogical research and archival literature. A charter member of SGA, Richard served as our second president, an early director and workshop leader.

Thank you to E. Lee Eltzroth, for providing the following biography of your father:

Richard T. Eltzroth, born in Dayton, Ohio in 1921, attended Miami-Jacobs [Business] College in Dayton, then Ohio State University, in Columbus, Ohio. He was drafted into wartime service in 1942, and he returned to Ohio State in 1946.

During World War II, as a Platoon Leader and Regimental Liaison Officer in the 311th Infantry Regiment of the 78th Division, he participated in Ardennes, Rhineland and Central Europe Campaigns in the European Theater. He was in the Battle of the Hurtgen Forest and the Battle of the Bulge and was with the first Infantry Regiment, the 311th, across the Rhine River at Remagen, Germany, in March 1945. He was awarded 14 decorations including the Combat Infantryman’s Badge, two Bronze Stars and two awards of the Army Commendation Medal, the first of which was given for “originating a recording and retrieval system for intelligence information.”

After being stationed in Panama, he and his wife and daughters were first stationed in Atlanta from 1950 to1954. That was followed by an intensive German language immersion course at the Army Language School in California, a tour-of-duty in Frankfurt Germany, and a return to Atlanta. Swearing to "never see another Ohio winter," they purchased an Atlanta home in 1958. After another tour-of-duty in Stuttgart, Germany, 1961-1964, Atlanta was his last military assignment. After 22 years of service and 10 years as a Special Agent, Counterintelligence Corps, Military Intelligence, he retired in 1964 as Captain, U.S. Army.

Upon his retirement, he was finally able to pull his love of history, photography, and information systems together as a second career. After a short time with the Georgia Department of Archives, he was employed in 1969 by the Atlanta Historical Society (now the Atlanta History Center), where he was responsible for the original establishment and organization of their Archives.

On behalf of the Atlanta Historical Society, he applied for and directed to completion an NHPRC grant for their "Photograph Preservation and Retrieval Project,” and two NEA Survey Grants. The first of these grants (1977-1978) photo-documented the changes brought about by MARTA construction. The second grant (1979-1980) photo-documented continuing MARTA construction, the effects of the interstate highway network on neighborhoods being severed from the city center, and major expansion of Hartsfield International Airport. Simultaneously, he oversaw the publication of Thirty-Two Picture Postcards of Old Atlanta (Dover Publications, Inc., 1978), choosing photos, compiling captions, and writing an introduction.

He was one of the original 23 Charter Members of the SGA and served as its second president in 1971. He was preceded in that office by Ed Weldon, and was followed by David Gracy. He also served SGA as Director in 1973, and the 32-page inaugural issue (1973) of Georgia Archive (now Provenance), contained his article on the Atlanta Historical Society. He did numerous workshops for SGA and related organizations and authored many articles on archival subjects.

Author of the privately printed The Lords of Eltz: Genealogical and Historical Information Compiled from German and American Sources, 1961-1968, he concentrated on his other long-time interest, genealogy, after his second retirement in 1986. Fluent in German, he continued to utilize his extensive files to answer reference questions for a world-wide Internet "family" until shortly before his death. He died of heart failure in the early morning of a memorable day, September 11, 2001, and is interred at Andersonville National Cemetery.

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