By the time I learned about The Emergence of the New South, The Persistent Tradition in New South Politics, and The Ethnic Southerners--books that guided a couple of generations of historians as they researched and wrote about the post-Reconstruction South--I had come to know Professor Tindall as more than merely one of the biggest names in southern historiography. His essays on southern mythology and “the benighted South” were masterpieces and a huge influence on the way historians viewed the region. His dissertation, published as South Carolina Negroes, 1877-1900, along with Vernon Wharton’s similar study of
It was because of George Tindall that I decided to study the history of the South. (My undergraduate degree had been in the history of science.) And it was through Tindall that I came to appreciate the importance not only of thorough research, but also of good writing. I think Tindall stressed this more than anyone else at
About a dozen years ago, the Georgia Historical Quarterly published an article I had written on Sam Jones, the famous late nineteenth-century evangelist. When I noticed in the page proofs that the phrase “Sam Jones’s Theology” had been changed to “Sam Jones’ Theology” in the subtitle, I wrote to John Inscoe, editor at the Quarterly, asking him to change it back. I reminded him of Strunk and White’s first rule: “Form the possessive singular of nouns by adding ’s.” John replied that he had received one similar request before: from George Tindall! (Tindall did love his Strunk and White.) I don’t think I ever told him about that.
I can’t imagine that I’ve had even a fraction of that influence over my own (undergraduate) students.
George Tindall died yesterday,