Jimmy Carter 39th President, 1977-1981

Birthplace, Plains, Georgia
Lillian Gordy Carter or “Miss Lillian” as she was called, began her nurse’s training and became a registered nurse at the Wise Sanitarium in Plains, Georgia. Her son, Jimmy, was born there on October 1, 1924. His father, James Earl Carter Sr., who was called “Mr. Earl,” was a farmer and storekeeper. The Wise Sanitarium, one of the smallest hospitals accredited in Georgia, became the Lillian G. Carter Nursing Center.

James Earl Carter’s ancestors had lived in America since the 1630s. They were residents of Georgia since just after the Revolution. Lillian Carter named the first of her four children James Earl, for his father. Jimmy’s mother, well read and curious about the world around her, crossed the then-strict lines of segregation in 1920s Georgia by counseling poor African American women on matters of health care.

The family became moderately prosperous, but when Jimmy was born in 1924, the first American president to be born in a hospital, he was taken back to a house that lacked electricity and indoor plumbing. By the time he was ten, the boy stacked produce from the family farm onto a wagon, hauled it into town and sold it. He saved his money, and by the age of thirteen, he bought five houses around Plains that the Great Depression had put on the market at rock-bottom prices. These homes were rented to families in the area. His father was stern but proud of Jimmy. His mother, Lillian, while also demanding, nurtured and encouraged his reading.

Boyhood Home, Archery, Georgia
Just down this path is the shady, swept-sand yard where the 39th President of the United States played as a boy, during the years of the Great Depression. This plain white farmhouse, these tangled woods, and these broad fields were home to Jimmy Carter until he left for college. Surrounded by a close family, here young Carter developed the character and values that would carry him to success as a naval officer, engineer, farmer, businessman, lawmaker, author, governor, president, and world statesman.

This is the homeplace – “hot in the summer and cold in the winter” – of a Georgia farmboy that would someday sleep in the White House. Here young Jimmy Carter ran, dodging dogs, chickens, geese, and guinea fowl. The yard was swept white sand, weeded clean to keep snakes and bugs away from the house. A woodpile stacked with hickory, oak, and pine for the fireplaces and kitchen stove took up much of the back yard. A chinaberry tree near the house held a treehouse where Jimmy played.

On the back porch, listen for the echoes of his father, “Mr. Earl” Carter, hurrying out on some farm business, and his mother, “Miss Lillian,” banging the screen door on her way to help someone with her nursing skills. You’d have found the backdoor unlocked.

Home, Plains, Georgia
Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter have lived in this house since 1961, which includes his years as state senator, governor, and president. Here cabinet and vice-presidential hopefuls were interviewed, his inaugural address was prepared, and other functions of his office were carried out while he used the house as a retreat from Washington.

The residence is a one-story brick ranch style house containing approximately 3,200 square feet of floor space on a 4.8-acre lot. The home, which is only one the Carters have owned, was modified in 1974 by converting the garage to form an office and constructing a new garage. In 1981, when Mr. Carter returned to Plains at the end of his presidency, this garage was converted to a wood working shop.

Campaign Headquarters, Plains, Georgia
From this depot in 1975, James Earl Carter, Jr. launched a two-year campaign for the presidency of the United States. At first an unknown referred to as “Jimmy Who,” Carter was inaugurated as America’s 39th President on January 20, 1977.

Library & Museum, Carter Center, Atlanta, Georgia
The Carter Center is located in a 35-acre park approximately two miles east of downtown Atlanta. Four circular interconnected pavilions house offices for the former president and first lady and most of the Center’s program staff. The complex includes the nondenominational Cecil B. Day Chapel, other conference facilities, and staff offices. The Center also owns the nearby Kirbo Building.

The Jimmy Carter Library and Museum, which adjoins The Carter Center, is owned and operated by the National Archives and Records Administration of the federal government. The Center and Library are known collectively as The Carter Presidential Center.

The Carter Center, in partnership with Emory University, is guided by a fundamental commitment to human rights and the alleviation of human suffering; it seeks to prevent and resolve conflicts, enhance freedom and democracy, and improve health.