Guardians of Historical Knowledge: Textbook Politics, Conservative Activism, and School Reform in Mississippi, 1928-1988
Kevin Johnson

About the research


NAEd/Spencer Dissertation Fellowship

Award Year



Mississippi State University

Primary Discipline

This case study examines how pressure groups changed history instruction and textbook content in Mississippi?s school system. Following World War II, conservative activists allied with civic-patriotic organizations such as the DAR, American Legion, and Farm Bureau. They used political connections to alter state law and curriculum standards. I argue that state-sanctioned curriculum both reflects and affects Mississippi?s political culture and the reformers? conservative ideology. The guardians of historical knowledge wanted social studies curricula to reflect intense patriotism, religiosity, white supremacy, and romantic history and they proved adept in successfully overcoming resistance from various state officials, teachers' associations, and the state?s newspapers. Education reform in Mississippi has been a struggle between the forces of retrenchment and the forces of change, and the curriculum battles over historical interpretation became a battleground over how to move forward.
About Kevin Johnson

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