Southern Historical Society

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Circular seal with the motto: "The Southern Historical Society, Organized May 1, 1869; Deo Vindice" The central device is a man on a horse, with the text "Re-organized Aug.15.1873.", surrounded by a wreath of assorted plants.
Seal of the Southern Historical Society

The Southern Historical Society was an organization founded by Confederate Major General Dabney H. Maury and nine other former Confederate officers in 1869 in New Orleans, Louisiana to collect and preserve documents relating to the Confederate experience.[1][2] It is not to be confused with the Southern Historical Association, an organization of professional historians founded in 1934.

As originally organized, the Society had a President and Secretary/Treasurer (the only paid positions). Vice-Presidents for each former Confederate state, plus the border states of Maryland, Tennessee, Kentucky and the District of Columbia, were to gather material relating to their states. Such would document Southern military and civilian viewpoints largely related to the American Civil War, avowedly offering a Southern perspective on the conflict and opposing a supposed bias of Northern historians.The original Vice-Presidents were:

After General Lee's death in 1871, General Jubal Early became the Vice-President with respect to Virginia. Other early subscribers and supporters included former Confederate president Jefferson Davis and vice-president Alexander H. Stephens, as well as Generals P.G.T. Beauregard, John Brown Gordon, Robert M. T. Hunter, Fitzhugh Lee, Armistead Lindsay Long, John William Jones, Walter H. Taylor and Zebulon Baird Vance.

The Society reorganized in 1873, after which it fostered the Lost Cause of the Confederacy movement, as well as reestablished regional pride and fueled other conservative movements. Consistent with the original purpose of collecting and preserving manuscripts related to the Confederate experience, in the late 19th century, it published the Southern Historical Society Papers, which eventually comprised 52 volumes of articles written by Southern soldiers, officers, politicians, and civilians. The first 14 volumes were edited by former Confederate chaplain J. William Jones, who published General Lee's remniscences in 1874 and became the Society's Secretary/Treasurer the following year (and continued for more than decade). The Society continued a campaign started by Southern writers including Edward A. Pollard (author of theLost Cause of the Confederacy) and Stonewall Jackson biographer Robert Lewis Dabney.[3] However, "Sometimes, the documents were altered as part of the Society's campaign to construct a southern historical memory and in an effort to protect its own leadership."[3]:188

The Society would eventually establish a permanent home in Richmond, Virginia, which became the home of the Museum of the Confederacy. The group's influence continues today,[when?] and it is an influence on the Sons of Confederate Veterans and activists in favor of public display of the Confederate battle flag. Historians today use the Society's journal as a source for Civil War research as well as an example of how historical memory can be shaped to serve external goals.[3]


  1. ^
  2. ^ Cox, Karen L. (2003). Dixie's Daughters: The United Daughters of the Confederacy and the Preservation of Confederate Culture. Gainesville, Florida: University Press of Florida. p. 13. ISBN 9780813026251.
  3. ^ a b c Starnes, Richard D. (1996). "Forever Faithful: The Southern Historical Society and Confederate Historical Memory". Southern Cultures. 2 (2). pp. 177–194.

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