Remembering Dixie: The Battle to Control Historical Memory in Natchez, Mississippi, 1865–1941
Nearly seventy years after the Civil War, Natchez, Mississippi, sold itself to Depression-era tourists as a place “Where the Old South Still Lives.” Tourists flocked to view the town’s decaying antebellum mansions, hoopskirted hostesses, and a pageant saturated in sentimental Lost Cause imagery.
In Remembering Dixie: The Battle to Control Historical Memory in Natchez, Mississippi, 1865–1941, Susan T. Falck analyzes how the highly biased, white historical memories of what had been a wealthy southern hub originated from the experiences and hardships of the Civil War. These collective narratives eventually culminated in a heritage tourism enterprise still in business today. Additionally, the book includes new research on the African American community’s robust efforts to build historical tradition, most notably, the ways in which African Americans in Natchez worked to create a distinctive postemancipation identity that challenged the dominant white structure.
Using a wide range of late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century sources―many of which have never been fully mined before―Falck reveals the ways in which black and white Natchezians of all classes, male and female, embraced, reinterpreted, and contested Lost Cause ideology. These memory-making struggles resulted in emotional, internecine conflicts that shaped the cultural character of the community and impacted the national understanding of the Old South and the Confederacy as popular culture.
Natchez remains relevant today as a microcosm for our nation’s modern-day struggles with Lost Cause ideology, Confederate monuments, racism, and white supremacy. Falck reveals how this remarkable story played out in one important southern community over several generations in vivid detail and richly illustrated analysis.
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