He began historical and genealogical research in 1965. A few years later he broadened his field of research to include in-depth study of the county's non-Indian pioneers and Cherokee families of mixed blood.As editor and author, he published the county's first history in 1981, Pioneer History of Forsyth County, Georgia, following his appointment as county historian by the Forsyth County Board of Commisioners. In late 1989, he completed and published Cherokee Planters in Georgia, 1832-1838, an academic work which has received acclaim nationwide. In 1993, soon after retiring, Shadburn published the third book in his "Pioneer-Cherokee Heritage Series," an 800-page volume entitled, Unhallowed Intrusion: A History of Cherokee Families in Forsyth County, Georgia. This publication was recipient of the first Lilla Mills Hawes Award (1995) presented by the Georgia Historical Society. Collaborating with historian Ted O. Brooke, he compiled, edited, and published a history of Forsyth County's Confederate soldiers, widows, and pensioners in 1997, Crimson and Sabres: A Confederate Record of Forsyth County, Georgia. Don Shadburn published his third book on Cherokee mixed-blood families and personalities, Upon Our Ruins: A Study in Cherokee History and Genealogy.
Donnie Lee Shadburn, educator and published writer, age 76 of Cumming, Georgia passed away Wednesday, April 22, 2015. His parents were Edbert Early Shadburn and Annie Grace Wheeler Shadburn. His personal collection of books was donated to the Forsyth County Library. Don's lifetime research was donated to the Historical Society of Cumming/Forsyth County. Remaining copies of his books are for sale through this website & amazon.com. Don's lifetime accomplishments have continued to give long after his passing. He is fondly missed and was well loved.