Born in 1873, Edward Baker Mell was the son of Patrick Hues Mell, a noted educator and theologian who served as President of the Southern Baptist Convention and Chancellor of the University of Georgia. E. B. Mell attended Auburn University. After graduation, he was briefly an insurance agent, then became a teacher at a school near Montgomery, Alabama, in 1894. In 1896, he returned to Athens to become principal of the Baxter Street School.
He became principal of the High School Department in 1907. Only two years later did the city construct a building solely for high-school students, named Athens High School. This building, located on Childs Street, continued to be used as a school until it was destroyed by a fire in 1966. By 1915, the high school had outgrown the Childs Street facility, moving into a building on Prince, constructed in 1875, that had previously served as the county courthouse. The high school continually grew, with new facilities added, including a gymnasium that still stands near the corner of Finley and Meigs and an auditorium named for E. B. Mell that has since been demolished.
Mell, who came to be affectionately known as “Mr. Ted,” remained principal until 1943. He had married Belle Witcher in 1896, but she and their infant son both died in July, 1911. Besides his role in the development of secondary education in Georgia, he was an important figure at the First Baptist Church in Athens, serving as superintendent of the Sunday school, clerk, deacon, and a member of the choir. He died in 1959. Athens High School had moved to a new building in 1952. The old high-school building was demolished, with Finley Street extended to Prince, passing through the previous school grounds. The auditorium at this new school, the present-day Clarke Central, is named Mell Auditorium. Mell’s book, Reminiscences of Athens, Georgia About 1880 to 1900, was written in 1956.
Besides being principal of the school when the register books in this collection were created, Mell also designed the registers. They were initially published by the Southern School Book Depository (Atlanta), later by the McGregor Company (Athens), and entitled Mell’s School Register Containing Forms for Complete Records of Attendance and Standing Adapted to Graded and Ungraded Schools.