A lifetime of change: Robert Lee Durham and the New South

Date
2011-01-01
Authors
Hunt, William
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Kathleen Hilliard
Committee Member
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History
Abstract

This thesis confronts how the era of the New South, 1877-1940, affected the person of Robert Lee Durham. Durham, born in 1870, grew up in a traditional North Carolinian home immediately following the Civil War and experienced the tensions related to Radical Reconstruction and witnessed the creation of the Ku Klux Klan in his hometown. As the South changed, so did Durham. Eventually he turned his back on an agrarian lifestyle and became an educator, inventor, and author. His choices caused him to confront racial miscegenation, the national Democratic Party, and his own family. However, after the death of his youngest brother, Durham devoted his remaining years to a personal reinvention in order to present himself as a traditional southern man to later generations. His personal papers drive this analysis of his life, a discussion of the South, racism, legacy, and what it meant to live through the New South.

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