Raoul family papers, 1865-1985

Emory University

Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library

Atlanta, GA 30322



Permanent link: http://pid.emory.edu/ark:/25593/8zsv1

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Raoul family.
Title: Raoul family papers, 1865-1985
Call Number:Manuscript Collection No. 548
Extent: 25.25 linear feet (51 boxes), 1 oversized papers box and 3 oversized papers folders (OP), and 1 oversized bound volume (OBV)
Abstract:Papers of the Raoul family including letters, journals, writings, photographs, financial and legal records, clippings, printed material, and memorabilia documenting two generations of this large and active Georgia family.
Language:Materials entirely in English.

Administrative Information

Restrictions on Access

Special restrictions apply: OP2a is restricted for preservation purposes.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

All requests subject to limitations noted in departmental policies on reproduction.


Gift, from various sources.


[after identification of item(s)], Raoul family papers, Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library, Emory University.


Processed by DEW, 1982.

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Collection Description

Biographical Note

The Raoul family was centered in Georgia, primarily Savannah and Atlanta, although family members resided in other places at various times. The principal family members represented in the collection are William Greene Raoul (1843-1913), railroad president, his wife Mary Wadley Raoul (1848-1936), her sister Sarah Lois Wadley (1844-1920), and the ten children of William Greene and Mary Raoul.

William Greene Raoul (W.G.) and Mary Raoul were married October 27, 1868 in Savannah, Georgia. Between the years 1870 and 1890, eleven children were born to them. In addition to the ten surviving children, the couple had a sixth son, Edward Raoul, who died in 1882 at age two. The family first lived in the home of W. G. Raoul's father in Independence, Louisiana, where W. G. was associated with the Southern Car Works, a family railcar-building enterprise. When the Car Works failed in 1870, W. G. Raoul went to Georgia to work for his father-in-law on the Central of Georgia Railroad. For the ten years between 1870 and 1881, the family made its home in various places in middle Georgia, settling in Macon after 1874. In 1881, the Raouls moved to Savannah, where they lived in a house on the corner of Charlton and Abercorn Streets. During their seven-year residency in Savannah, the family made yearly summer pilgrimages to the cooler climates of north Georgia, the North Carolina mountains, and Martha's Vineyard. After a summer spent in Asheville in 1886, the family chose that city as a permanent summer home and site of their hotel complex, Albemarle Park.

In 1888, the Raouls moved to New York and established themselves in rented houses on Staten Island. After four years in New York, they returned to Georgia, this time to Atlanta where they settled permanently in 1892. There they took an active role in the civic and social life of the city.

Both sons and daughters made their debuts into Atlanta society and family members involved themselves in a variety of social and charitable organizations. Although not active in church work, the family maintained ties to the Episcopal Church. The Raoul residence until 1914 was a large home on Peachtree Street designed for them by noted New York architect Bradford Gilbert in 1891. After her husband's death in 1913, Mary Wadley Raoul built a new house on Lullwater Road in Atlanta's Druid Hills subdivision. She occupied this home until her death in 1936 when its ownership passed to Eleonore Raoul.

The ten children of W. G. and Mary Wadley Raoul pursued varied and often unusual careers. Mary Wadley Raoul (Millis) (b. 1870) became associated with the Socialist Party in the early twentieth century and chaired the Angelo Herndon Freedom Committee (1933). The first son, W. G. Raoul, Jr. (b. 1872), after ventures in textiles and manufacturing, also embraced socialism before making and losing a fortune in the stock market in the 1920's. Gaston C. Raoul (1874-1960) became head of a refrigerator and furniture manufacturing concern in Chattanooga. After contracting tuberculosis at the age of twenty, Thomas Wadley Raoul (1876-1953) traveled seeking cures and later established a permanent residence in Asheville, North Carolina. Rebecca Raoul (b. 1878) devoted time to charity work and to the League of Women Voters.

Agnes Raoul (1882-1914) married Atlanta businessman Thomas K. Glenn and was active in civic and social affairs. Rosine Raoul (1885-1918) also contracted tuberculosis while in her early twenties and spent many of the last years of her life in sanatoriums. Loring Raoul (b. 1887) served in France during World War I, afterwards establishing a large farming enterprise in Florida. The youngest daughter, Eleonore Raoul (b. 1888), was active in the organization of the Equal Suffrage Party of Georgia and supported equal rights for women throughout her life. Please note that Eleonore Raoul changed the spelling of her first name from Eleanore to the French form, Eleonore in 1912. Eleonore Raoul Greene is referred to throughout this descriptive inventory as Eleonore Raoul because of her own practice of using her maiden name throughout most of her life. The youngest child, Norman Raoul (b. 1890), served as an artilleryman with the American Expeditionary Forces in France in World War I, then settled as a businessman in Chattanooga. Detailed biographical information on the family can be found in Mary Raoul Millis's 1943 memoir, The Family of Raoul (CS71/R22/1943). A photocopy of this work is filed in Series 4 of the collection.

Scope and Content Note

The Raoul family papers contain letters, journals, writings, photographs, financial and legal records, clippings, printed material, and memorabilia documenting two generations of this large and active Georgia family. Family letters comprise approximately two thirds of the entire collection. The earliest original item is a letter of Mary Wadley Raoul dating from 1865 and the most recent are letters to Eleonore Raoul from 1982. The great majority of the papers, however, span the forty years between 1880 and 1920 and provide a relatively complete account of the life of the family during this period.

The papers are arranged in four series. The largest, Series 1, Letters and Personal Papers, is divided into thirteen subseries, each organized around one of the individual family members identified in the biographical note above. Letters written by each family member are grouped with other personal papers in the subseries named for that individual. Most of the correspondence is between the children and Mary Wadley Raoul. Series 2 contains the family photographs; Series 3, financial and legal papers; and Series 4, miscellaneous materials relating to the family as a whole and items that were added to the collection during processing.

The Raoul family papers document the life of the family as a unit in Macon, Savannah, Atlanta, and Bolingbroke, Georgia, Staten Island, New York, and Asheville, North Carolina, and the lives of the children in the various places where they settled. Topics frequently mentioned in the correspondence include births and deaths, domestic matters, courtship and marriage, child raising, social events, health and illness, associations with relatives, and relationships between family members. The childhood and education of the ten Raoul children are well documented. Travel is another major subject covered in the papers. Raoul family members traveled extensively; many of the letters record visits to Bolingbroke, Asheville, New York, Mexico, Europe, and numerous other places. Business activities of the Raoul men are often discussed as well. Topics include railroad and railroad-related operations in the South and Mexico, cotton, shipping, and manufacturing concerns in Georgia and Chattanooga, and real estate ventures in Asheville. An indication of the family's property holdings and other assets is provided by the financial records. Other special subjects include Mary Raoul Millis' and William Greene Raoul, Jr.'s involvement with the Socialist Party, Eleonore Raoul's work with the woman's suffrage movement and the League of Women Voters, and Tom and Rosine Raoul's battles with tuberculosis. The collection also contains information on the Wadley family.

Prominent correspondents represented in the papers include Joseph Emerson Brown, William Jennings Bryan, Carrie Lane Chapman Catt, Porfirio Diaz, William Berry Hartsfield, Atticus Greene Haygood, Alice Paul, and Thomas Edward Watson.

Arrangement Note

Organized into four series: (1) Letters and personal papers, (2) Photographs, (3) Financial and legal papers, and (4) Miscellaneous.

Finding Aid Note

A personal name index to selected correspondents is available.

Selected Search Terms

Personal Names

Corporate Names

Topical Terms

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Form/Genre Terms


Description of Series