In this Book
- Francis Butler Simkins: A Life
- Published by: University Press of Florida
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Few men make their mark in their profession as indelibly as historian Francis Butler Simkins (1897-1966). Known as an eccentric, Simkins is almost as famous for falling asleep while performing his ceremonial duties as president-elect of the Southern Historical Association as he is for his wildly influential and radical scholarship.
Simkins was considered one of the most liberal voices in the academic dialogue about Reconstruction and race relations in the South during the first part of his career, but his outlook changed drastically during the 1950s. This man, whose scholarship once challenged racism, became a staunch conservative--arguing in his final book that the Jim Crow South was "everlasting" and would never change.
In this biography, James Humphreys takes a close look at Simkins as a man, to better understand him as a historian. He engages with Simkins's physical and mental eccentricities--his troubled health and career stresses--and explores the extent to which the historian was shaped by the values he learned during his childhood in segregationist South Carolina.