Spring 2013 Topic (April 6th to May 10th)
Contact Larry at (336) 883-3637 or firstname.lastname@example.org if you have further questions or need a copy of the book of your choice.
“Farewell to the Old Farm: How Factories Changed the Southern Way of Life, 1880-1930″–
Today, our economy is going through a global technological and knowledge-economy revolution. Many have benefited; many others have been left behind. A similar upheaval occurred a century ago. Our Spring topic focuses on the huge changes in Southern life brought about by railroads and industrial entrepreneurs, both home-grown and imported, after the collapse of the plantation economy. Textile and furniture mills, lumber mills, tobacco manufactories, and coal and iron mines spread across the region. Many individuals were displaced from a simple rural life into an unfamiliar world of wage labor. Small farmers struggled to maintain their independence in the face of hard times. Much was lost, but some habits of thought and action were preserved from the ante-bellum world.
We will explore many questions in this three-meeting cycle, not least of which are these. Why did industrialists seek to set up shop in the South? What qualities made them successful? How did they organize their systems differently from Northern factories and why? Why did Southern farm laborers end up moving to factory towns and what kept them there over many years? Did industrialization improve the lives of Southern people and, if so, in what ways? What challenges and problems arose because of it? Why did unions—so strong elsewhere–never take deep roots here? How did the political system serve the interests of Southern industrialist entrepreneurs? How did black people, women and the poor and uneducated make out in this alliance of power? Who were those who disagreed with the changes and how successful were their challenges? And most importantly, what can we learn about how to handle the current economic shift from the example of our predecessors of the late 19th century?
We have chosen four books for this topic. You can pick one or more from the line-up. Since we won’t all be reading the same book, we won’t try to establish a strict schedule. Please just try to have about 1/3 of what you want to read done by our first meeting and an additional 1/3 by each of the next two meetings. Remember, that you don’t have to read every word. Skimming and skipping is permitted (although it is possible to skip too much.)
Friday, Apr 12th–Inaugural meeting, 10:30 to 12:00pm, 3rd Floor Book Lover’s Room.
Friday, Apr 26th–Midpoint meeting, 10:30 to 12:00 pm, 3rd Floor Book Lover’s Room.
Friday, May 10th– Wrap meeting, 10:30 to 12:00 pm, 3rd Floor Book Lover’s Room.