Mapping Confederate Monuments is an Omeka-based archive created by students in Dr. Benjamin Cawthra’s Fall 2020 Introduction to Public History class at California State University, Fullerton. Colleen Greene, Digital Literacy Librarian, provided instruction and site management for the project.

The protests for racial justice and equality in 2020 across the United States led to a sweeping public reassessment of the American past, in particular the meaning of slavery and the Civil War and how these have been remembered in public spaces. This conflict is rooted in the aftermath of the South’s crushing defeat in 1865. Reckoning with an maimed economy, the end of race-based slavery, and massive loss of life, the white Southern leaders could no longer boldly argue for the virtues of slavery and secession as they had before the war. Representing a significant rhetorical pivot, the Lost Cause narrative of Confederate history promulgated by former CSA general Jubal Early and other ex-CSA leaders attempted to absolve the South for blame in starting the Civil War, denied that slavery had any role in causing the conflict, and valorized Confederate leaders such as Robert E. Lee and Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson as virtuous heroes who only lost to superior numbers. Over time, the erection of monuments to the Confederacy not only perpetuated the Lost Cause but reinforced white supremacy and racial segregation in public spaces. Monuments made visual the white South’s reaction to the African American drive for equality. After official segregation ended in the 1960s, white Southern rhetoric shifted again. The monuments now commemorated “heritage.”

 In this project, students present their research on the histories of Confederate monuments—who created them and for what purposes and what their status is in the wake of the controversies over Confederate symbolism over the past few years. Using the bar above,  you may browse Items—entries on individual monuments—and Collections, themed groupings of items that provide a place to dig deeper into the creation and location of Confederate monuments. With the Map function, you may access the information by clicking mapped location points created with the Geolocation plugin. 

Further Reading

 Blight, David W., Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory. Revised edition. Cambridge, MA: Belknap/Harvard University Press, 2002.

Blight, David W., American Oracle: The Civil War in the Civil Rights Era. Cambridge, MA: Belknap/Harvard University Press, 2011.

Early, Jubal. “Address to the Southern Historical Convention” in The Proceedings of the Southern Historical Association. Baltimore: Turnbull, 1873.

Hale, Grace Elizabeth, Making Whiteness: The Culture of Segregation in the South, 1890-1940.   New York: Vintage, 2000.

Nelson, Louis P., and Claudrena N. Harold. Charlottesville 2017: The Legacy of Race and Inequity. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press.

Nolan, Alan T. Lee Considered: General Robert E. Lee and Civil War History. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1991.

Savage, Kirk. Standing Soldiers, Kneeling Slaves: Race, War, and Monument in Nineteenth-Century America. New edition. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2018.

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