Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Document Type



This dissertation examines the surviving archival evidence from several 19th century prominent West Feliciana families found in the Louisiana and Lower Mississippi Valley Collections (LLMVC) at the LSU libraries in an effort to understand how Louisianans’ value and support education. The antebellum period was chosen for study because it was arguably the last time period in which the South was not influenced or controlled by the dominant narrative of the Common School Movement, which Wayne Urban (1981) refers to as the “phenomenon of Massachusetts Myopia.” The archival collections containing correspondence from the immediate family of Lewis Stirling, Sr. and their extended family, the Turnbulls and the Bowmans, were chosen in part because they represented the leading families from West Feliciana Parish during the antebellum period. Their correspondence provided a broad spectrum of educational events, styles, and methods from the antebellum period from which to draw evidence supporting the claim of Louisianans long standing commitment to education. The correspondence of Rachel O’Connor, a neighbor of the Stirlings, was also analyzed in an effort to provide more information on the topic from the perspective of female education. A combination of phenomenological, narrative, and historiographical research methods to better tease out an understanding of the value they placed on education. The archival evidence showed evidence of a wide variety of educational methods and venues, but also revealed a strong familial and community commitment and concern for the education of the children and youths of the family. This strong evidence of the importance placed on education challenges the current stereotype of Louisianans as poorly educated people who care little about education.



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Student has submitted appropriate documentation to restrict access to LSU for 365 days after which the document will be released for worldwide access.

Committee Chair

Hendry, Petra Munro



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