Date of Award

12-2012

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Legacy Department

History

Advisor

Andrew, Jr., Rod

Committee Member

Anderson , Paul C.

Committee Member

Grant , H. Roger

Abstract

In 1954, Coffee County, Georgia, commemorated its centennial with a massive celebration that essentially shut down the county seat of Douglas for a week. Parades, fireworks, speeches, and above all a large-scale historical pageant, the 'Centurama,' were components of the celebration. The history celebrated in 1954, however, did not necessarily match up with Coffee County's actual history. This thesis examines the history of Coffee County and its changing nature, looking at politics, economics, and culture. It finds that historical 'memory' is not always planned out by society's elites, but can change as the result of politics, demographic shifts, and commercial gain. The 1954 celebration is placed in a larger context since the 1950s saw a historical pageant fad during the tense first years of the Cold War. Communities that hired Ohio-based John B. Rogers Producing Company to run their centennial celebrations received a pre-fabricated history to celebrate that did not always match their actual history. At the end, the thesis deals with the consequences of the white majority's ignorance of the history of their African-American neighbors and addresses the impact of desegregation on the white and black communities of Coffee County. Historical memory is therefore organic and drifts along the currents found in society.

Share

COinS