Georgia History Textbooks
Georgia history textbooks are used in the state's public school systems to educate eighth-grade students about Georgia's diverse past, cultures, and peoples.
For a variety of reasons, textbooks on Georgia history for middle school students did not materialize until late in the nineteenth century. First, Georgia was the last of the original thirteen colonies and thus did not establish colleges, universities, and secondary school systems as early as did the other states. (State history texts began to appear in many New England states in the 1820s and 1830s, and one was even written for South Carolina students in 1840.) Second, the vast majority of the nation's colleges and universities required prospective freshmen to have credits in and a knowledge of U.S. and world history but not local or state histories. Finally, Georgia's public school system was not fully organized and developed until after the Civil War (1861-65). Together, these conditions did not foster the opportunity, much less the need, for writers and publishing companies to produce a state history text for young Georgians until after Reconstruction.
Noted Georgia scholar and educator Lawton Bryan Evans wrote what was probably the first Georgia history textbook for adolescents.
Beginning in the early 1900s other writers produced state history texts that revised and updated the information in Evans's publications. These books included The Story of Georgia: For Georgia Boys and Girls, by Katherine B. Massey and Laura Glenn Wood (1904) and J. Harris Chappell's Georgia History Stories (1905). Throughout the rest of the twentieth century, dozens of other state history textbooks followed in the wake of these first few written works.
The Georgia legislature also did its part to encourage the development of the public schools' social studies curricula and the availability of efficient teaching materials. A 1923 law stipulated that all state schools and colleges sustained by public funds
As is true in practically every state in the nation, Georgia over the years has experienced its share of public controversy regarding the type and tone of material published in certain state and U.S. history textbooks.
The state Board of Education has banned a few social studies texts containing material that some education and public officials found too controversial. Examples of such prohibited books include Frank Magruder's American Government, banned in 1951 for being too "socialist," and Edwin Fenton's The Americans: A History of the United States, banned in 1972 for its views on race and the Vietnam conflict as well as for Fenton's belief in the "critical inquiry" approach to social studies.
Social studies textbooks themselves are historical documents, for they represent the culture, the fads, and the concerns of the period in which they were published. Texts published 100, 50, or even 10 years apart often present vastly different historical depictions of various people and events. Perhaps in no other area is this more evident than that of race. Recent social studies textbooks, dating from the 1970s to the present, give a much different picture of such issues as slavery, Reconstruction, and civil rights than do texts written long ago.
A 1983 Georgia Social Science Journal article by Steven M. Terry shows that the Reconstruction era is the most radically reinterpreted historical event in many Georgia history textbooks. Early authors, like Evans, Massey, and Wood, followed the interpretation of Reconstruction to which most historians of the time subscribed. This school of thought was sympathetic toward the South and white southerners and highly critical of the Radical Republican position. Early texts typically looked unfavorably upon African Americans and denounced the supposed evils and chaos caused by the newly freed slaves during Reconstruction.
Lawton B. Evans, The Student's History of Georgia: From the Earliest Discoveries and Settlements to the End of the Year 1883 (Macon, Ga.: J. W. Burke and Co., 1884).
Charles H. Smith, A School History of Georgia: Georgia as a Colony and a State, 1733-1893 (Boston: Ginn and Co., 1893).
Lawton B. Evans, A History of Georgia for Use in Schools (New York: University Publishing, 1904).
Katherine B. Massey and Laura Glenn Wood, The Story of Georgia: For Georgia Boys and Girls (Boston: D. C. Heath, 1904).
J. Harris Chappell, Georgia History Stories (New York: Silver, Burdett, 1905).
Lawton B. Evans, First Lessons in Georgia History (New York: American Book, 1913).
Jennie Akers Bloodworth, Getting Acquainted with Georgia (Dallas, Tex.: Southern Publishing, 1926).
Edward S. Sell et al., The Story of Georgia: A School History of Our State (Atlanta: Science Research Associates, 1942).
Ruth Elgin Suddeth, Isa Lloyd Osterhout, and George Lewis Hutcheson, Empire Builders of Georgia (Austin, Tex.: Steck, 1951).
E. Merton Coulter et al., History of Georgia (New York: American Book, 1954).
Albert B. Saye, Georgia Government and History (Evanston, Ill.: Row, Peterson, ).
James C. Bonner, The Georgia Story (Oklahoma City, Okla.: Harlow, 1958).
Bernice McCullar, This Is Your Georgia (Northport, Ala.: American Southern, 1966).
Albert B. Saye, Georgia History and Governme nt (Austin, Tex.: Steck-Vaughn, 1973).
Bernice McCullar and Sibley Jennings, This Is Your Georgia, rev. ed. (Montgomery, Ala.: Viewpoint, 1977).
Lawrence R. Hepburn, The Georgia History Book (Athens: Carl Vinson Institute of Government, University of Georgia, 1982).
Louis DeVorsey Jr. et al., A Panorama of Georgia (Marceline, Mo.: Walsworth Publishing, 1987).
W. Bruce Wingo, Steven M. Terry, and Ron Bussler, Georgia in American Society (Stone Mountain, Ga.: Linton Day, 1987).
Edwin L. Jackson et al., The Georgia Studies Book (Athens: Carl Vinson Institute of Government, University of Georgia, 1991).
Edwin L. Jackson et al., The Georgia Studies Book: Our State and the Nation (Athens: Carl Vinson Institute of Government, University of Georgia, 1998).
Bonita Bullard London, Georgia: The History of an American State (Montgomery, Ala.: Clairmont Press, 1999).
Henry Johnson, The Teaching of History in Elementary and Secondary Schools (New York: Macmillan, 1925).
Thomas V. O'Brien, The Politics of Race and Schooling: Public Education in Georgia, 1900-1961 (Lanham, Md.: Lexington Books, 1999).
John L. Rhodes, "A Study of the Georgia State Department of Education's Ban on Textbooks by Edwin Fenton" (Ph.D. diss., Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, 1981).
W. T. Russell, "Historical Text-Books Published before 1861," History Teacher's Magazine 6 (April 1915): 122-25.
Steven M. Terry, "Depiction of the Reconstruction Period in Georgia History Textbooks," Georgia So cial Science Journal 14, no. 2 (1983): 5-10.
William Alexander Percy, University of Georgia
A project of the Georgia Humanities Council, in partnership with the University of Georgia Press, the University System of Georgia/GALILEO, and the Office of the Governor.