Purpose and overview
Themes of success have often characterized descriptions of the growth and emergence of communities. Yet while American society has been an economically successful society, there are significant regions in this country that have communities whose history is one of failure and not of success. In spite of this, little interest has been directed at ccmmunity failure. Thus we know relatively little about the process or meaning of community failure.
One such area is Southern Illinois, an area often referred to as "Little Egypt," with names like Herrin, Thebes, and Cairo. More symbolic of the ancient period is the tale that during the early history of the state, when the corn crop failed in the North and hunger emerged, men were sent into Southern Illinois to return with corn. This they presumably did, and soon the region came to take on the Biblical significance of Joseph in Egypt.
It is ironic that a region believed at one time to be a land of plenty, both in myth and in reality, has had so little economic success, and that its history from this perspective has been dismal. In broader sense, however, the Southern Illinois area is not unlike other underdeveloped areas in this country; the sections of the country that have not, and may never, come to share in the broader success of American society From an historical perspective, these underdeveloped regions saw the success of other regions pass them by; over an extended period of time they become "another part of America" or "another part of Illinois." For many, the so- called common virtues of American society, the values of