Glimpses of southern culture
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To better understand a culture, one must analyze the individuals within it. This study examined students’ personal documents from the University of Georgia as cultural artifacts to reveal the forces driving student actions in the American South during Reconstruction and the runup to the 20th century. Historical document analysis was incorporated with the grounded theory method to present a thematic social history delving into student life at the University of Georgia between 1866 and 1900. A close examination of candid documents of college students during the period shed considerable light on an area of inquiry left untreated in many institutional histories and revealed a detailed portrait of the intricacies embedded within college student life. The narrative provides a candid glimpse into student life during the studied period, and the author theorizes that the resources analyzed showed trends of continuity and change in southern culture. Continuity was identified within rules, violence, conformity, culture, inclusion and exclusion, and resistance. Change occurred in fraternity membership, masculinity, student composition and student housing. The author concludes by arguing that cultural reproduction in the South during this period was perpetuated through social processes, including violence, group inclusion and exclusion, and conformity and resistance. The analysis suggests that inter-subjective histories and knowledge of school culture is critical prior to implementation of policy reform or curricular change.