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Folly of Jim Crow

Rethinking the Segregated South

Edited by Stephanie Cole and Natalie J. Ring; Introduction by Fitzhugh Brundage

Publication Year: 2012

Although the origins, application, and socio-historical implications of the Jim Crow system have been studied and debated for at least the last three-quarters of a century, nuanced understanding of this complex cultural construct is still evolving, according to Stephanie Cole and Natalie J. Ring, coeditors of The Folly of Jim Crow: Rethinking the Segregated South. Indeed, they suggest, scholars may profit from a careful examination of previous assumptions and conclusions along the lines suggested by the studies in this important new collection. Based on the March 2008 Walter Prescott Webb Memorial Lectures at the University of Texas at Arlington, this forty-third volume in the prestigious series undertakes a close review of both the history and the historiography of the Jim Crow South. The studies in this collection incorporate important perspectives that have developed during the past two decades among scholars interested in gender and politics, the culture of resistance, and "the hegemonic function of ‘whiteness.’" By asking fresh questions and critically examining long-held beliefs, the new studies contained in The Folly of Jim Crow will, ironically, reinforce at least one of the key observations made in C. Vann Woodward’s landmark 1955 study: In its idiosyncratic, contradictory, and multifaceted development and application, the career of Jim Crow was, indeed, strange. Further, as these studies demonstrate—and as alluded to in the title—it is folly to attempt to locate the genesis of the South’s institutional racial segregation in any single event, era, or policy. "Instead," as W. Fitzhugh Brundage notes in his introduction to the volume, "formal segregation evolved through an untidy process of experimentation and adaptation."

Published by: Texas A&M University Press


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Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. ix-xi

The publication of C. Vann Woodward’s The Strange Career of Jim Crow in 1955 prompted an extended scholarly debate about the timing and practices of segregation in the years immediately following the Civil War. In fact the discussion was so profound that Woodward himself reentered the fray, with...

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pp. 1-16

Alabama Governor George Wallace’s incendiary inaugural address in 1963 was, in retrospect, one of the death throes of legal segregation in the United States. Wallace failed to preserve segregation in Alabama or anywhere else in “the Great Anglo- Saxon Southland.” But his fervid pledge was a succinct summation of the logic that had sustained segregation for almost a century in the Jim Crow...

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1. Identity, Marriage, and Schools:Life along the Color Line/ s in the Era of Plessy v. Ferguson

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pp. 17-53

In 1877, former “free persons of color” and former slaves alike lived in Virginia as citizens, with voting rights and access to segregated schooling. Rowena McPherson and George Stewart resided in Manchester, across the James River from Richmond, the recent capital of the Confederacy. Though they had married...

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2. Southern Indians and Jim Crow

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pp. 54-90

In 1969, Myron Jones of the National Congress of American Indians went to Marksville, Louisiana, to investigate the situation of the local Tunica- Biloxi Indians. They owned 130 acres on which local whites had encroached by hunting deer, building a road and a gas station, and using the Indians’ cemetery...

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3. The “New Race Question”: The Problem of Poor Whites and the Color Line

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pp. 91-123

In 1905, Albert Bushnell Hart, son of an Ohio abolitionist and professor of history at Harvard University, wrote an article on recent conditions in the New South and noted, “No Northern visitor crosses Mason and Dixon’s line without realizing there is a Southern problem.” Having made several trips to...

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4. “Nature is the Author of Such Restrictions”: Science, Ethnological Medicine, and Jim Crow

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pp. 124-149

When prominent naturalist and retired Army surgeon R. W. Shufeldt published his fi rst book-length examination of America’s “negro problem” in 1907, he did so for the “for the sole purpose of pointing out, from a purely scientific viewpoint, the effect that these introduced Ethiopians have had...

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5. From the “Ladies’ Car” to the “Colored Car”: Black Female Travelers in the Segregated South

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pp. 150-175

The National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs leader Mary Church Terrell “was no more than five years old” when she first had “the Race Problem brought directly home to me.” Born in 1863, Mollie Church, as she then was known, was traveling by train through Tennessee with her father, former...

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6. Is Marriage a Civil Right? The Politics of Intimacy in the Jim Crow Era

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pp. 176-208

Over the past fifteen years the right to marry has moved to the center of discussions about civil rights in contemporary America. The argument over gay marriage rights, for example, is founded in part on the assumption that marriage is both a human and a constitutional right. As historian George Chauncey...


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pp. 209-216

Further Reading, Back Cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9781603446617
E-ISBN-10: 1603446613
Print-ISBN-13: 9781603445825
Print-ISBN-10: 160344582X

Page Count: 256
Illustrations: 8 b&w photos. Index.
Publication Year: 2012

OCLC Number: 794002160
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Folly of Jim Crow

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Subject Headings

  • African Americans -- Segregation -- Southern States.
  • African American women -- Southern States -- Social conditions -- 19th century.
  • African American women -- Southern States -- Social conditions -- 20th century.
  • Southern States -- Race relations -- History -- 19th century.
  • Southern States -- Race relations -- History -- 20th century.
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