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  • A Mind To Stay Here: Closing Conference Comments on Southern Exceptionalism

    John Egerton, Nashville, Tennessee

    29 November 2006

    Writer John Egerton reflects upon thirty years of chronicling Dixie's Americanization and America's southernization from his post in Nashville. He discusses the persistence of "southern" themes and offers subjects for books that he hopes other writers will pursue.

    A Mind to Stay Here


    About John Egerton:

    John Egerton was born in Atlanta, Georgia, June 14, 1935, the son of William G. Egerton, a traveling salesman, and his wife, Rebecca White Egerton. The family settled in Cadiz, Kentucky, where John remained until leaving to attend Western Kentucky University, 1953–1954. From 1954 until 1956, he served in the United States Army. He earned a B.A. at the University of Kentucky in 1958 and an M.A. in 1960.

    Between 1958 and 1960, Egerton was with the Public Relations Department of the University of Kentucky, and from 1960 to 1965, he was the Director of Public Information for the University of South Florida. He was a staff writer for Southern Education Report, 1965–1969, and for Race Relations Reporter, 1969–1971.

    In 1971, Egerton began his career as a free-lance reporter. He was a contributing editor for Saturday Review of Education (1972-1973), Race Relations Reporter (1973–1974), and Southern Voices (1974–1975). From 1973–1975, he was a writer for Atlanta's Southern Regional Council. In 1977–1978, he was journalist-in-residence at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. Egerton has written or edited eleven non-fiction books and contributed over two-hundred articles to periodicals. He has also been a participant in and writer for many projects or conferences dealing with desegregation and civil rights.

    About this Video

    This video of John Egerton was taken at "The End of Southern Exceptionalism" conference held at Emory University in March 2006, an event organized by Professor Joseph Crespino of the Emory University History Department and Professor Matt Lassiter of the Department of History at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor.

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    Recommended Resources

    Print Materials

    Egerton, John. A Mind to Stay Here. New York: Macmillan, 1970.

    ———. Black Public Colleges: Integration and Disintegration. Nashville: Race Relations Information Center, 1971.

    ———.Visions of Utopia: Nashoba, Rugby, Ruskin, and the "New Communities" in Tennessee's Past. Knoxville: Published in cooperation with the Tennessee Historical Commission by University of Tennessee Press, 1977.

    ———. Nashville: The Faces of Two Centuries, 1780-1980. Nashville: Plus Media, 1979.

    ———. Generations: An American Family. Lexington, KY: University Press of Kentucky, 1983.

    ———. Side Orders: Small Helpings of Southern Cookery and Culture. Atlanta: Peachtree Publishers, 1990.

    ———. Shades of Gray: Dispatches from the Modern South. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1991.

    ———. Speak Now Against the Day: The Generation before the Civil Rights Movement in the South. New York: Knopf, 1994.

    ———. Generations: An American Family. Lexington, KY: University Press of Kentucky, 2003; and Twentieth Anniversary edition, 2003.

    ———. Ali Dubyiah and the Forty Thieves. Montgomery, AL: New South Books, 2006.

    Egerton, John, and Dana Thomas. Nissan in Tennessee. Smyrna, TN: Nissan Motor Manufacturing Corp. U.S.A., 1983.

    Egerton, John, Ann Bleidt Egerton, and Al Clayton. Southern Food: At Home, on the Road, in History. New York: Knopf, Distributed by Random House, 1987. Reprinted with a new Introduction by the University of North Carolina Press, 1993.

    Egerton, John, and Southern Foodways Alliance. Cornbread Nation 1: The Best of Southern Food Writing. Chapel Hill: Published in association with the Southern Foodways Alliance Center for the Study of Southern Culture University of Mississippi by the University of North Carolina Press, 2002.


    Egerton, John. Reflections on an Era: Before the Civil Rights Movement.

    ———. "Possum on Terrace: The Southern Life and Times of Johnny Popham and a Few of His Friends," unpublished manuscript, 1987, at "'Possum on Terrace': A Typed Manuscript from John Egerton on Journalist Johnny Popham," Southern Spaces blog, October 9, 2012,

    The John Egerton Papers, 1950s–2001

    Articles and Reviews from Southern Changes: The Journal of the Southern Regional Council, 1978–2003

    Campbell, Will D. Review: Generations: An American Family, 6, no. 1 (1984): 23–24.

    Davenport, Gene L. Review: A Complex Web of Irony and Contradiction, 14, no. 2 (1992): 24–25.

    Egerton, John. Article: Back to Birmingham, 20, no. 4 (1998): 3–7.

    ———. Article: Homegrown Progressives, 16, no. 3 (1994): 1, 4–17.

    ———. Article: In Memorium: Pat Watters (19271999), 21, no. 3 (1999): 25.

    ———. Article: John Nicholas Popham III (19101999), 21, no. 4 (Winter 1999): 21–22.

    ———. Article: Profiles in Change, 1, no. 8 (1979): 8–10, 26–28.

    ———. Review: A Brave Voice in the Wilderness, 14, no. 2 (1992): 29–30.

    ———. Review: A Life in Letters, 15, no. 3 (1993): 15–16.

    ———. Review: Delta Democrat, 15, no. 4 (1993): 22–23.

    ———. Review: In Country, 8, no.1 (1986): 20–22.

    ———. Review: Myth, Media, and the Southern Mind, 9, no. 1 (1987): 15–16.

    ———. Review: Odyssey of a Southern Radical, 14, no. 4 (1992): 29–30.

    ———. Review: Preacher's Parable, 9, no. 3 (1987): 23.

    ———. Review: Ruin and Redemption, 18, no. 1 (1996): 20–21.

    ———. Review: Southern Progressivism, 6, no. 4 (1984): 23–24.

    ———. Review: The Most Hated Man in Alabama, 15, no. 2 (1993): 20–22.

    Garrow, David J., Review: A Day Late?, 17, no. 1 (1995): 20–23.

    Kennedy, Stetson, Review: Salute to the Vanguard Letter, 17, no. 3–4 (1995): 30–31.

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