The South in American History

Past Courses

This course is now available online as a self-paced course.

The South in American History

The South has played a central role in American history from the first permanent English colony through the United States of today. Join Gilder Lehrman and University of Richmond president and professor of history Edward L. Ayers—and look south for American history.

The class will explore the creation of the largest and most powerful slave society of the modern world and the attempt to create a new independent nation to sustain that society. The course will chart the ending of slavery for four million people, the social transformations that followed in Reconstruction, and the upheavals of the first New South. For the twentieth century, the class will document the world of segregation, the overthrow of that system, and the emergence of the complicated and sometimes conflicted South we know today.

The course will include a broad range of historical actors as active participants in the story, incorporating economics and politics, religion and culture. Innovative digital tools will help teachers see and teach this history in new ways.


The Oxford Book of Southern History, edited by Edward L. Ayers and Bradley C. Mittendorf

Lead Scholar

Edward L. Ayers

Edward L. Ayers is President of the University of Richmond. The author/editor of ten books (including the Bancroft Prize–winning In the Presence of Mine Enemies), Ayers also directed the online history project “The Valley of the Shadow: Two Communities in the American Civil War.” He serves as a cohost of BackStory, a nationally syndicated radio show that connects American history to the present day. In 2003, he was named Professor of the Year by the Carnegie Foundation and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education. Last year, he was awarded the National Humanities Medal at the White House by President Barack Obama in recognition of “his commitment to making our history as widely available and accessible as possible.”