Magazine article The Wilson Quarterly

The South's Interlude

Magazine article The Wilson Quarterly

The South's Interlude

Article excerpt

"South-by-Northeast: The Journey of C. Vann Woodward" by Theodore Rosengarten, in Doubletake (Summer 1999), Center for Documentary Studies at Duke Univ., 1317 W. Pettigrew St., Durham, N.C. 27705.

The renowned historian C. Vann Woodward, an emeritus professor at Yale University, was born in 1908 in his grandmother's house in Vanndale, Arkansas, and it seems to him now, looking back, that it was when he was five or so and staying in that house that he first glimpsed what would become the theme of his most resonant scholarly books.

"Across the street from my grandmother's house... was a house owned by former slaves who did well and bought some land," he tells Rosengarten, a historian currently at the College of Charleston, South Carolina. "Every Sunday afternoon, Miss Sally would come and visit Miss Ida, my grandmother.... She had been the slave of my grandmother's parents. They ... had lots to talk about. And my grandmother entertained her in the parlor." Not the kitchen, but the parlor! "That's when I knew," he says, "there must have been an interlude"--a time after the Civil War when southerners lived without legal racial segregation.

If southerners had done that once, done it for decades, they could do it again: that was the hopeful implication of Woodward's Origins of the New South (1951), The Strange Career of Jim Crow, his 1957 history of segregation in the South, and other works. He showed, writes Rosengarten, that legal segregation "developed relatively late, an invention of a small, monied elite who exploited the myth of race to solidify its hold over the region. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.