LSU Libraries recently selected a recipient for LSU Libraries Special Collections’ annual travel grant program, which supports the use of Special Collections materials in a research project. The $1,000 grant can be applied to travel, lodging, food, and other research-related costs associated with a trip to Hill Memorial Library in Baton Rouge. This year’s award can also be used for duplication or digitization fees, if travel restrictions prevent the awardee from visiting in person.
This year’s grant awardee is Tracy L. Barnett, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Georgia. Her dissertation, “Men and Their Guns: The Culture of Self-Deputized Manhood in the South, 1850–1877” is a timely study of gun culture and white supremacy in the mid-nineteenth-century South. Rifles—their meaning to men and their availability in the South—are at the center of Barnett’s work. As white men, nineteenth-century southerners were at the top of the region’s racial and gendered hierarchies. As armed men, they became the enforcers of those hierarchies. Operating within a society and culture that granted them powers typically reserved for judges and police, white southern men “self-deputized” and, then, policed, patrolled, and brutalized the South at gun point. It is this custom of self-deputized manhood that defines southern masculinity and differentiates southern violence from other regions within the United States. More guns led directly to more violence and more death; the South flooded with guns over the course of the nineteenth century. During Reconstruction, white men of all walks of life procured firearms, even, as they broadly disarmed the black population. The implications were lethal. In the end, the Winchester rifle did more than win the American West; it was “The Gun that Won the South” for white supremacy.
Barnett plans to consult numerous collections at LSU that focus on hunting, military service, rifle clubs and paramilitary organizations. She also intends to search through diaries and correspondence written by men for mention of firearms and racialized violence to uncover deeper understandings of southern gun culture. The Special Collections staff looks forward to meeting Barnett and supporting her work.