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Atlanta's Candler family story told in new book by Emory alumna

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Ann Uhry Abrams, an alumna of Emory University's Laney Graduate School, will give an illustrated author talk about her new book on the Candler family on Nov. 12.

Ann Uhry Abrams, an alumna of Emory University's Laney Graduate School, will give an illustrated author talk about her new book on the Candler family, "Formula for Fortune: How Asa Candler Discovered Coca-Cola and Turned It into the Wealth His Children Enjoyed."

The talk will begin at 6:30 p.m., Monday, Nov. 12 in the Jones Room on Level 3 of Emory's Robert W. Woodruff Library. Abrams' illustrated talk will include photographs that were not in the book. The book will be for sale and light refreshments will be served before and after the program; a book signing will follow the event.

Abrams' book tells the story of how Asa Griggs Candler (1851-1929) acquired the secret formula from pharmacist and Coca-Cola inventor John Pemberton and turned it into a popular soft-drink when he founded the Coca-Cola Company, through which he made his fortune. That fortune shaped not only his life and his family's – wife Lucy Elizabeth and children Howard, Lucy, Asa Jr., Walter, and William – but also the future of Emory and the city of Atlanta.

Much of Abrams' research was conducted in Emory's Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library (MARBL), with additional research done in the Coca-Cola archives.

"I can't say enough nice things about the collections and the staff at MARBL,” Abrams says, adding she spent about five years, off and on, coming to MARBL to bring the Candler story to life. "I [attended] Emory and I discovered the wonderful letters there [in the Candler archives], and that's what made me realize there was a book there.”

Candler also served as mayor of Atlanta during World War I, and funded the transformation of Emory College in Oxford, Ga., to Emory University in Atlanta. Born in Carroll County, Ga., he was by turns a pharmacist, a soft-drink company magnate, a real estate developer, a prominent banker and a philanthropist.

"We are delighted to welcome Ann Abrams to Emory and to the library for this talk,” says Ginger Smith, director of public programming at Emory Libraries. "Ann's newest book, along with much of her previous research, focuses on the way influential families and defining events have come together to shape the history of Atlanta. Many aspects of that story are represented in our library's collections, and we love seeing such research woven skillfully into the narratives that Ann writes.”

Abrams grew up in Druid Hills, which was developed by Candler, and that's where her fascination with the family began. Many people in the Emory community know that Asa Jr.'s property is now the Briarcliff Campus, and that the still-standing Candler mansion was his home, but they might not know he had a zoo on the land. The estate built for Walter Candler is now the Emory University president's home, Lullwater. Part of the Clairmont Campus is built on the back end of what was once Walter's property. Callanwolde Fine Arts Center was the home of eldest son Howard Candler and his family and once belonged to Emory. Multiple buildings, parks and other entities bear the Candler name throughout Atlanta.

Abrams' author talk is co-sponsored by Emory's Department of Art History, Emory Libraries, the Laney Graduate School and MARBL. Abrams is the author of four books, including "Explosion at Orly: The Disaster that Transformed Atlanta,” which recounts the 1962 Paris plane crash that took the lives of 106 Atlantans, many of them prominent supporters of the local arts community.

The Robert W. Woodruff Library is located at 540 Asbury Circle in Atlanta, 30322. Parking is available in the Fishburne deck.

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