Durward Long


Historican have yet to devote the thought and research to urbanization in the South that the subject deserves. Coulter’s brief attention to the growth and role of cities and towns in the Reconstruction era, Van Woodward’s similarly brief concern with cities in his Origins of the New South, Ezell’s short treatment in his textbook survey, Park’s interpretative chapter in Couch’s Culture in the South, and Vance’s edited work on the recent South nearly exhaust the list of serious histories which offer even slight leads about southern urbanization. A survey of the Journal of Southern History and state historical journals is equally disappointing despite the fact that the larger changes of the South since the Civil War have been inextricably tied to the city. Only recently have students of the South’s history turned to examining the city as a topic deserving of as much attention as “Bourbons,” “Redeemers,” “Populists,” “Jim Crow,” and the politics of the “Solid South.” It could be that the lag in historical study reflects the lag of the section in comparing quantitatively with urbanization of other regions. But perhaps quantitative measurements, which place the South about fifty years behind other parts of the nation, do not necessarily indicate the degree of importance urbanization has played in the South since the Civil War. Nevertheless, as recently as 1967, a monograph on research needs in the South failed to include urban development as a separate topic.