Virginia Textbook Past

The Daughters of the Confederacy were not only successful in the cultural promoting of southern heritage but they had long close ties to southern elites, which made their say in education heard. “As UDC members crew the daughter's influence was widely recognized in the campaign for pro southern textbooks. The UDC like other confederacy organizations wanted children to believe that although the confederacy suffered military defeat the cause was still just”[1]. The integration of textbooks not only affected the members children but all children in public school systems who created these textbooks.

Using textbooks is a critical and underutilized source to explore the Civil Rights era. The rise in these textbooks was a direct response to integration and equal rights.  Democratic politicians would reinforce their version of history in southern schools using these textbooks. One such creation was Virginia, Acts of Assembly, Senate Joint Resolution No. 5 of 1950. This is a Virginia resolution which was co-sponsored by Lloyd C. Byrd, and Garland Gray. The resolution was to create a commission to find “suitable texts.”[1] This approved commission became the little opposition. Thus, was born the Virginia History and Government Textbook Commission. The commission would have the power to review material that they deemed suitable for Virginia history textbooks for elementary schools through high schools. Byrd who was conservative wanted conservative values in the textbook and promoted the lost cause narrative while creating these textbooks. These false historical narratives became the staple in these textbooks, and they were in circulation through Virginia schools until the mid-70s. Eichelman's article explains even after the de-circulation of the textbooks, “several state legislators in both the 1974 and 1975 sessions attempted to pass bills similar.”[2]This demonstrated how powerful state legislators who held an ideology could impact the viewpoints of generations to come through the use of education.

[1] Virginia, Acts of Assembly, Senate Joint Resolution No. 5 (1950)

[2] Eichelman, Fred R. "The Government as Textbook Writer: A Case History." The Phi Delta Kappan 57, no. 7 (1976): 456-58. Accessed November 8, 2020.