Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Ward, Morgan Jasom

Committee Member

Greene, Alisona Collis

Committee Member

Williams, Michael V.

Committee Member

Damms, Richard V.

Date of Degree


Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access



Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D)


College of Arts and Sciences


Department of History


This project examines the role cultural transmission of historical myths plays in power relationships and identity formation through a study of the Mississippi textbook regulatory agency and various civic organizations that shaped education policy in addition to textbook content. A study of massive resistance to integration, my project focuses on the anticommunism and conservative ideology of grassroots segregationists. Civic-patriotic societies such as the Daughters of the American Revolution, the American Legion, and Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation formed as the major alliance affecting the state’s education system in the post-World War II era. Once the state department of education centralized its services in the late 1930s and early 1940s, civic club reformers guarded against integrationist and multicultural content found in textbooks, deeming both as subversive and communistic. From the early 1950s through the 1970s, Mississippi’s ardent segregationists and anticommunists shaped education policy by effective statelevel lobbying and grassroots activism. I demonstrate that the civic clubs had more influence in the state legislature than did the upstart Citizens’ Council movement. In addition, I show that once social studies standards emphasizing God, country, and Protestant Christianity became codified in state education policy, it became ever more difficult for other reformers, namely James W. Loewen and Charles Sallis, to dislodge and alter those standards. Through numerous legal cases, DAR and Farm Bureau ephemera, and state superintendent of education files, this work argues that the civic clubs played an integral role in defense of white supremacy—a role that has been underemphasized in the existing literature on massive resistance.