Publication Date

4-15-2017

Advisor(s)

Patricia Hill

Major

History (HIST)

Language

English (United States)

Abstract

This work examines the material expression of Lost Cause narratives and white antebellum Southern nostalgia through the restoration and preservation of antebellum plantation homes. Crucial to my argument is the creation of a white Southern regional identity, as well as the national reunion between the North and South following the Civil War; both of these depended on white supremacy and the negation of black memory in favor of a romanticized version of the antebellum South as a hospitable and aristocratic region, with grand, white-columned plantation houses at its center. I trace preservation projects completed by elite white Southerners and Northerners, undertaken by civic groups and individuals, to explore the ways in which memory, nostalgia, and ideas about heritage informed plantation house preservation from the nineteenth century, beginning with the restoration of Mount Vernon by the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association, into the present. I also situate plantation house preservation into the larger preservation movement in the United States, noting the ways in which the restoration of plantation homes informed or inspired the creation of local and statewide preservation groups, as well as national preservation legislation in the twentieth century.

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