Poet, playwright, scholar, composer, mentor, and friend – these are just of a few of the many words used to describe the late Dr. Ja Jahannes. At the time of his passing in July, Dr. Jahannes and the Georgia Historical Society were preparing for a program that he titled, “Who Will Remember Me? The Importance of Preserving the Culture of African Americans in Georgia.”
His dedication to African-American culture and history inspired us all, as did his desire to host a program at GHS to teach others to record their own family histories through letters, photographs, and other family materials.
He also urged others to record the oral histories of older generations, including family stories and first-person accounts of events both historical and personal so they wouldn’t be lost to the passage of time. It was his hope to use items from his personal collection, the Ja. A. Jahannes Papers generously donated earlier this year to GHS, to inspire future generations of scholars and researchers.
His collection, now available through the Georgia Historical Society Research Center, includes his academic and personal papers; correspondence; photographs; performing arts materials; writings; publications such as essays, books, newspapers, and playbills; and audio visual materials, all from his time at Hampton University, Lincoln University and Savannah State. The depth of it speaks to his love of history, art, and literature, the stage and the spoken word.
While the public program with GHS never materialized the title lives as a testimony to his rich legacy – “Who will remember me?” Thanks to the generous gift of his personal collection we will all remember Ja Jahannes, and future generations will be able to discover the life and legacy of an incredibly gifted man.
To learn more about the Ja A. Jahannes Papers visit or contact the Georgia Historical Society Reseasrch Center at 501 Whitaker Street, Savannah or 912-651-2128.