Toward a history of Catholic higher education in the American South : essays on sources and context
Wrightson, Katherine Mary
MetadataShow full item record
During the 19th and early 20th centuries, members of Christian denominations established a large number of colleges in the American South. Most of these colleges failed, but collegiate charters were part of a larger competition between denominations. This phenomenon is considered to be Protestant in nature. Roman Catholics, however, opened colleges at roughly the same rate as the most active Protestant denominations, though little research exists on these institutions. Seventy-nine Catholic colleges were founded between 1830 and 1930 in nine Southern states: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Texas. Nine of these colleges remain in operation. Southern Roman Catholic colleges resembled Catholic institutions elsewhere in the United States. These schools served multiple purposes, including basic education for laymen and the training of priests. The overarching goal was to provide a separate enclave of Catholic ritual and knowledge, giving Catholic students a refuge from the surrounding Protestant culture. Curricula included the traditional 19th century classical curriculum, commercial studies, and preparatory work. Though there were some similarities, the governance, financial, and faculty issues of these institutions often differed from that of non-Catholic colleges of the time. This collection of essays builds a framework for further study on Southern Roman Catholic colleges. The religious culture of the American South is described, with Catholic culture set into context. The individual colleges are introduced, including what is known of each institution’s history. The structure and intellectual life of American Catholic colleges is explained, as context for Southern institutions. Finally, possible reasons for collegiate closures are presented.