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The Cause Archived: Thomas Owen, the Alabama Archives, and the Shaping of Civil War History and Memory




Cone, Daniel

Type of Degree

PhD Dissertation



Restriction Status


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Date Available



Thomas M. Owen's foundation and directorship of the Alabama Department of Archives and History (ADAH), lasting from 1901 until 1920, overlapped with and reinforced the development of a southern, scholarly defense of the "Lost Cause" memory of the Civil War era. Owen established and directed the ADAH, the first state-supported archives department in the United States in 1901, the same year that Alabama disenfranchised African Americans. Owen's broader, public vision was that the archives would act as a disinterested, professional, administration bureau, saving both historical manuscripts and contemporary government documents. Yet from the beginning the ADAH was a Confederate repository. Historians, heritage associations, and Confederate veterans relied on the Alabama archives for primary sources, proof of military service, and pensions support, and the materials that the Owen looked for and acquired, the research efforts that he encouraged, and the publications and public programs that he inaugurated or fostered had a pro-Confederate slant. This dissertation examines the specific ways that Owen tailored the archives' acquisitions, public services, research assistance, and publications policies to further the Lost Cause.