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Assassins, Eccentrics, Politicians, and Other Persons of Interest

Fifty Pieces from the Road

Curtis Wilkie

Writing as a newspaper reporter for nearly forty years, Curtis Wilkie covered eight presidential campaigns, spent years in the Middle East, and traveled to a number of conflicts abroad. However, his memory keeps turning home and many of his most treasured stories transpire in the Deep South. He called his native Mississippi, “the gift that keeps on giving.” For Wilkie, it represented a trove of rogues and racists, colorful personalities and outlandish politicians who managed to thrive among people otherwise kind and generous.

Assassins, Eccentrics, Politicians, and Other Persons of Interest collects news dispatches and feature stories from the author during a journalism career that began in 1963 and lasted until 2000. As a young reporter for the Clarksdale Press Register, he wrote many articles that dealt with the civil rights movement, which dominated the news in the Mississippi Delta during the 1960s.Wilkie spent twenty-six years as a national and foreign correspondent for the Boston Globe. One of the original “Boys on the Bus” (the title of a best-selling book about journalists covering the 1972 presidential campaign), he later wrote extensively about the winning races of two southern Presidents, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton.

Wilkie is known for stories reported deeply, rife with anecdotes, physical descriptions, and important background details. He writes about the notorious, such as the late Hunter S. Thompson, as well as more anonymous subjects whose stories, in his hands, have enduring interest. The anthology collects pieces about several notable southerners: Ross Barnett; Byron De La Beckwith and Sam Bowers; Billy Carter; Edwin Edwards and David Duke; Trent Lott; and Charles Evers. Wilkie brings a perceptive eye to people and events, and his eloquent storytelling represents some of the best journalistic writing.

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Atlanta and Environs

A Chronicle of Its People and Events, 1820s-1870s

Franklin M. Garrett

Atlanta and Environs is, in every way, an exhaustive history of the Atlanta Area from the time of its settlement in the 1820s through the 1970s. Volumes I and II, together more than two thousand pages in length, represent a quarter century of research by their author, Franklin M. Garrett a man called "a walking encyclopedia on Atlanta history" by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. With the publication of Volume III, by Harold H. Martin, this chronicle of the South's most vibrant city incorporates the spectacular growth and enterprise that have characterized Atlanta in recent decades.<p/>

The work is arranged chronologically, with a section devoted to each decade, a chapter to each year. Volume I covers the history of Atlanta and its people up to 1880 ranging from the city's founding as "Terminus" through its Civil War destruction and subsequent phoenixlike rebirth. Volume II details Atlanta's development from 1880 through the 1930s including occurrences of such diversity as the development of the Coca-Cola Company and the Atlanta premiere of Gone with the Wind. Taking up the city's fortunes in the 1940s, Volume III spans the years of Atlanta's greatest growth. Tracing the rise of new building on the downtown skyline and the construction of Hartsfield International Airport on the city's perimeter, covering the politics at City Hall and the box scores of Atlanta's new baseball team, recounting the changing terms of race relations and the city's growing support of the arts, the last volume of Atlanta and Environs documents the maturation of the South's preeminent city.<p/>

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Atlanta and Environs

A Chronicle of Its People and Events, 1880s-1930s

Franklin M. Garrett

Atlanta and Environs is, in every way, an exhaustive history of the Atlanta Area from the time of its settlement in the 1820s through the 1970s. Volumes I and II, together more than two thousand pages in length, represent a quarter century of research by their author, Franklin M. Garrett a man called "a walking encyclopedia on Atlanta history" by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. With the publication of Volume III, by Harold H. Martin, this chronicle of the South's most vibrant city incorporates the spectacular growth and enterprise that have characterized Atlanta in recent decades.<p/>

The work is arranged chronologically, with a section devoted to each decade, a chapter to each year. Volume I covers the history of Atlanta and its people up to 1880 ranging from the city's founding as "Terminus" through its Civil War destruction and subsequent phoenixlike rebirth. Volume II details Atlanta's development from 1880 through the 1930s including occurrences of such diversity as the development of the Coca-Cola Company and the Atlanta premiere of Gone with the Wind. Taking up the city's fortunes in the 1940s, Volume III spans the years of Atlanta's greatest growth. Tracing the rise of new building on the downtown skyline and the construction of Hartsfield International Airport on the city's perimeter, covering the politics at City Hall and the box scores of Atlanta's new baseball team, recounting the changing terms of race relations and the city's growing support of the arts, the last volume of Atlanta and Environs documents the maturation of the South's preeminent city.<p/>

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Atlanta and Environs

A Chronicle of Its People and Events, 1940s-1970s

Harold H. Martin

Atlanta and Environs is, in every way, an exhaustive history of the Atlanta Area from the time of its settlement in the 1820s through the 1970s. Volumes I and II, together more than two thousand pages in length, represent a quarter century of research by their author, Franklin M. Garrett a man called "a walking encyclopedia on Atlanta history" by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. With the publication of Volume III, by Harold H. Martin, this chronicle of the South's most vibrant city incorporates the spectacular growth and enterprise that have characterized Atlanta in recent decades.<p/>

The work is arranged chronologically, with a section devoted to each decade, a chapter to each year. Volume I covers the history of Atlanta and its people up to 1880 ranging from the city's founding as "Terminus" through its Civil War destruction and subsequent phoenixlike rebirth. Volume II details Atlanta's development from 1880 through the 1930s including occurrences of such diversity as the development of the Coca-Cola Company and the Atlanta premiere of Gone with the Wind. Taking up the city's fortunes in the 1940s, Volume III spans the years of Atlanta's greatest growth. Tracing the rise of new building on the downtown skyline and the construction of Hartsfield International Airport on the city's perimeter, covering the politics at City Hall and the box scores of Atlanta's new baseball team, recounting the changing terms of race relations and the city's growing support of the arts, the last volume of Atlanta and Environs documents the maturation of the South's preeminent city.<p/>

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The Atlantic World and Virginia, 1550-1624

Peter C. Mancall

In response to the global turn in scholarship on colonial and early modern history, the eighteen essays in this volume provide a fresh and much-needed perspective on the wider context of the encounter between the inhabitants of precolonial Virginia and the English. This collection offers an interdisciplinary consideration of developments in Native America, Europe, Africa, the Caribbean, and the Chesapeake, highlighting the mosaic of regions and influences that formed the context and impetus for the English settlement at Jamestown in 1607. The volume reflects an understanding of Jamestown not as the birthplace of democracy in America but as the creation of a European outpost in a neighborhood that included Africans, Native Americans, and other Europeans.

With contributions from both prominent and rising scholars, this volume offers far-ranging and compelling studies of peoples, texts, places, and conditions that influenced the making of New World societies. As Jamestown marks its four-hundredth anniversary, this collection provides provocative material for teaching and launching new research.

Contributors:
Philip P. Boucher, University of Alabama, Huntsville
Peter Cook, Nipissing University
J. H. Elliott, University of Oxford
Andrew Fitzmaurice, University of Sydney
Joseph Hall, Bates College
Linda Heywood, Boston University
James Horn, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation
E. Ann McDougall, University of Alberta
Peter C. Mancall, University of Southern California
Philip D. Morgan, Johns Hopkins University
David Northrup, Boston College
Marcy Norton, The George Washington University
James D. Rice, State University of New York, Plattsburgh
Daniel K. Richter, University of Pennsylvania
David Harris Sacks, Reed College
Benjamin Schmidt, University of Washington
Stuart B. Schwartz, Yale University
David S. Shields, University of South Carolina
Daviken Studnicki-Gizbert, McGill University
James H. Sweet, University of Wisconsin, Madison
John Thornton, Boston University

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Atomic Testing in Mississippi

Project Dribble and the Quest for Nuclear Weapons Treaty Verification in the Cold War Era

In Atomic Testing in Mississippi, David Allen Burke illuminates the nearly forgotten history of America’s only nuclear detonations east of the Mississippi River. The atomic tests, conducted in the mid-1960s nearly 3,000 feet below ground in Mississippi’s Tatum Salt Dome, posed a potential risk for those living within 150 miles of the site, which included residents of Hattiesburg, Jackson, Gulfport, Biloxi, Mobile, and New Orleans. While the detonations provided the United States with verification methods that helped limit the world’s nuclear arsenals, they sparked widespread public concern. In 1964 and 1966 the Atomic Energy Commission conducted experiments at the salt dome—code-named Dribble—surrounded by a greater population density than any other test site in the United States. Although the detonations were not weapons tests, they fostered a conflict between regional politicians interested in government-funded science projects and a population leery of nuclear testing near their homes. Even today, residents near the salt dome are still fearful of long-term negative health consequences. Despite its controversy, Project Dribble provided the technology needed to detect and assess the performance of distant underground atomic explosions and thus verify international weapons treaty compliance. This technology led to advanced seismological systems that now provide tsunami warnings and detect atomic activity in other nuclear nations, such as Pakistan and North Korea.

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Back Home

Journeys through Mobile

After twenty years in New York City, a prize-winning writer takes
a "long look back" at his hometown of Mobile, Alabama.

In Back Home: Journeys through Mobile, Roy Hoffman
tells stories--through essays, feature articles, and memoir--of one of
the South's oldest and most colorful port cities. Many of the pieces here
grew out of Hoffman's work as Writer-in-Residence for his hometown newspaper,
the Mobile Register, a position he took after working in New York
City for twenty years as a journalist, fiction writer, book critic, teacher,
and speech writer. Other pieces were first published in the New York
Times
, Southern Living, Preservation, and other publications.
Together, this collection comprises a long, second look at the Mobile of
Hoffman's childhood and the city it has since become.
 

Like a photo album, Back Home presents close-up
portraits of everyday places and ordinary people. There are meditations
on downtown Mobile, where Hoffman's grandparents arrived as immigrants
a century ago; the waterfront where longshoremen labor and shrimpers work
their nets; the back roads leading to obscure but intriguing destinations.
Hoffman records local people telling their own tales of race relations,
sports, agriculture, and Mardi Gras celebrations. Fishermen, baseball players,
bakers, authors, political figures--a strikingly diverse population walks
across the stage of Back Home.

 

Throughout, Hoffman is concerned with stories and their
enduring nature. As he writes, "When buildings are leveled, when land is
developed, when money is spent, when our loved ones pass on, when we take
our places a little farther back every year on the historical time-line,
what we have still are stories."
 

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Backwater Blues

The Mississippi Flood of 1927 in the African American Imagination

Richard M. Mizelle Jr.

The Mississippi River flood of 1927 was the most destructive river flood in U.S. history, reshaping the social and cultural landscape as well as the physical environment. Often remembered as an event that altered flood control policy and elevated the stature of powerful politicians, Richard M. Mizelle Jr. examines the place of the flood within African American cultural memory and the profound ways it influenced migration patterns in the United States.

In Backwater Blues, Mizelle analyzes the disaster through the lenses of race and charity, blues music, and mobility and labor. The book’s title comes from Bessie Smith’s “Backwater Blues,” perhaps the best-known song about the flood. Mizelle notes that the devastation produced the richest groundswell of blues recordings following any environmental catastrophe in U.S. history, with more than fifty songs by countless singers evoking the disruptive force of the flood and the precariousness of the levees originally constructed to protect citizens. Backwater Blues reveals larger relationships between social and environmental history. According to Mizelle, musicians, Harlem Renaissance artists, fraternal organizations, and Creole migrants all shared a sense of vulnerability in the face of both the Mississippi River and a white supremacist society. As a result, the Mississippi flood of 1927 was not just an environmental crisis but a racial event.

Challenging long-standing ideas of African American environmental complacency, Mizelle offers insights into the broader dynamics of human interactions with nature as well as ways in which nature is mediated through the social and political dynamics of race.Includes discography.

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Baptized in PCBs

Race, Pollution, and Justice in an All-American Town

Ellen Griffith Spears

In the mid-1990s, residents of Anniston, Alabama, began a legal fight against the agrochemical company Monsanto over the dumping of PCBs in the city's historically African American and white working-class west side. Simultaneously, Anniston environmentalists sought to safely eliminate chemical weaponry that had been secretly stockpiled near the city during the Cold War. In this probing work, Ellen Griffith Spears offers a compelling narrative of Anniston's battles for environmental justice, exposing how systemic racial and class inequalities reinforced during the Jim Crow era played out in these intense contemporary social movements.

Spears focuses attention on key figures who shaped Anniston--from Monsanto's founders, to white and African American activists, to the ordinary Anniston residents whose lives and health were deeply affected by the town's military-industrial history and the legacy of racism. Situating the personal struggles and triumphs of Anniston residents within a larger national story of regulatory regimes and legal strategies that have affected toxic towns across America, Spears unflinchingly explores the causes and implications of environmental inequalities, showing how civil rights movement activism undergirded Anniston's campaigns for redemption and justice.

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Battle of Stones River

The Forgotten Conflict between the Confederate Army of Tennessee and the Union Army of the Cumberland

Larry J. Daniel

Three days of savage and bloody fighting between Confederate and Union troops at Stones River in Middle Tennessee ended with nearly 25,000 casualties but no clear victor. The staggering number of killed or wounded equaled the losses suffered in the well-known Battle of Shiloh. Using previously neglected sources, Larry J. Daniel rescues this important campaign from obscurity. The Battle of Stones River, fought between December 31, 1862, and January 2, 1863, was a tactical draw but proved to be a strategic northern victory. According to Daniel, Union defeats in late 1862—both at Chickasaw Bayou in Mississippi and at Fredericksburg, Virginia—transformed the clash in Tennessee into a much-needed morale booster for the North. Daniel’s study of the battle’s two antagonists, William S. Rosecrans for the Union Army of the Cumberland and Braxton Bragg for the Confederate Army of Tennessee, presents contrasts in leadership and a series of missteps. Union soldiers liked Rosecrans’s personable nature, whereas Bragg acquired a reputation as antisocial and suspicious. Rosecrans had won his previous battle at Corinth, and Bragg had failed at the recent Kentucky Campaign. But despite Rosecrans’s apparent advantage, both commanders made serious mistakes. With only a few hundred yards separating the lines, Rosecrans allowed Confederates to surprise and route his right ring. Eventually, Union pressure forced Bragg to launch a division-size attack, a disastrous move. Neither side could claim victory on the battlefield. In the aftermath of the bloody conflict, Union commanders and northern newspapers portrayed the stalemate as a victory, bolstering confidence in the Lincoln administration and dimming the prospects for the “peace wing” of the northern Democratic Party. In the South, the deadlock led to continued bickering in the Confederate western high command and scorn for Braxton Bragg.

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