Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Marcus, Alan

Committee Member

Marshall, Anne

Committee Member

Phillips, Jason

Committee Member

Messer, Peter

Date of Degree


Original embargo terms

MSU Only Indefinitely

Document Type

Dissertation - Campus Access Only



Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


College of Arts and Sciences


Department of History


Educational reform in the New South took many forms. After the ravages of the Civil War, education in the South was chaotic and sporadic. Diverse external groups sought to improve the situation of the southern poor. They ranged from successful businessmen who organized philanthropic ventures such as the Southern Education Board to mission associations established by church denominations to minister to the disadvantaged rural population—both black and white. Within the South, various individuals and groups played critical roles in improving southern rural education. This study focuses on the creation of Tallulah Falls School in the north Georgia mountains by the Georgia Federation of Women’s Clubs. Tallulah Falls School’s founding in its cultural and social context reflects upon a number of issues that characterized the decades surrounding the turn of the twentieth century. Of significance were the vision of a New South as articulated by Henry Grady and others, and the ‘discovery’ of Appalachia in the 1890s, followed by the perceived need to ‘repair’ it. Also influential was a different vision of a New South that drew upon the Lost Cause philosophy as articulated by the Sons and Daughters of the Confederacy. Industrial education was seen as a means not only to educate but also to alleviate concerns about the potential loss of rural America and the legendary yeoman farmers that had been the foundation of the nation from its earliest days. The rise of great fortunes and the emergence of a middle class led those who had the resources to uplift and ‘repair’ through philanthropic means that which seemed to threaten the virtues and vitality of America. Although their motives were not purely altruistic, clubwomen exerted great effort to bring educational opportunities to the rural people of Georgia. Through personal involvement and by means of political and social reform, these clubwomen were prepared to their position and influence to ‘heal’ the children. Their endeavor at Tallulah Falls stands as an example of their determination to uplift poor, disadvantaged mountain children and their families and bring to them an awareness of an efficient, modern world.