The John W.A. Sanford papers were given to Special Collections by their previous owners. They were housed in the Georgia Room of the Library until Special Collection was founded. Materials in the Georgia Room were collected by Mrs. Leola Beeson, wife of Dr. J. Luther Beeson, former president of the college.
The collection consists of two boxes. The first box contains mostly letters between Sanford and family members, though there are letters from other contacts and friends and some pertaining to his law practice. The second, oversized box contains a letterbook containing correspondence from 1831 regarding the state of Georgia's relations with Cherokee Nation, as well as a list of white individuals who had license to live in the Cherokee Territory.