Southern Museum to explore 100th anniversary of Leo Frank lynching

(Photo courtesy the Southern Museum of Civil War & Locomotive History)

KENNESAW, Ga. — The Southern Museum of Civil War & Locomotive History will explore the 100th anniversary of the Leo Frank lynching with a series of special programs and a three-month-long exhibit interpreting the event.

The special exhibit and events will run from Aug. 17 until Nov. 29.

The Southern Museum is partnering with the William Breman Jewish Heritage Museum in Atlanta and the Museum of History and Holocaust Education at Kennesaw State University to present the exhibit and related programming, which will contribute to a larger commemoration taking place throughout metro Atlanta.

“The lynching of Leo Frank is a difficult moment in our state’s history and one that still resonates a century later,” said Dr. Richard Banz, executive director of the Southern Museum. “While its memory and aftermath are painful even 100 years later, we expect this exhibit to spark an exploration of how we can work together to eliminate bigotry from the public square.”

Frank, the Jewish superintendent of the National Pencil Co., was convicted in 1913 of murdering one of his employees, 13-year-old Mary Phagan. His conviction followed a controversial and highly sensationalized trial that highlighted anti-Semitic sentiment in the state at the time.

Originally sentenced to death, Georgia Gov. John M. Slaton believed Frank might be innocent and commuted Frank’s sentence to life in prison. However, Frank was abducted from a state prison in Milledgeville and lynched in the early morning hours of Aug. 17, 1915, near where Interstate 75 today crosses State Route 120 in Marietta.

The centerpiece of the Museum’s efforts will be the “Seeking Justice: The Leo Frank Case Revisited” exhibit running from Aug. 16 until Nov. 29. The 2,800-square-foot exhibit includes one-of-a-kind artifacts from both Frank and Phagan, including Frank’s National Pencil Co. desk, personal belongings from Phagan and the door to the Milledgeville prison infirmary the mob allegedly opened when kidnapping Frank.

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