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Please enjoy these names of well-off young white men who attended Alabama Polytechnic Institute in the 1880s-90s, listed in the order in which I found them in a large scrapbook full of graduation programs.

Abednego Jackson Crawford
Sumpter Lea Harwood
Ogden Ellery Edwards
Rinaldo Greene Williams
Henry Clay Burr
Solon Lycurgus Coleman
Peyton Heyonden Moore
Henrey Tikner DeBardeleben
Noble James Wiley
Benjamin Sweat Patrick
Halbert Clyde Ray
Almuth Cunningham Vandiver
Flake Earle Farley

Bailey Edgar Brown
Arthur Flournoy Jackson
Dozier Turner
Theophilus Eaton Goodwin
Bolivar Davis
Colonel Seldon Crew
Erister Ashcraft
Bolling Hill Crenshaw
Fontaine Broun
Seaborn Jesse Buckalew
Elbert Cathey Averyt
Dallas Tabor Herndon
Nimrod Davis Denson, Jr.
Obie Boland Cooper
Gilder Lemuel Payne
Cincinnatus Decatur Killebrew

Most of them are from Alabama and Georgia. There are a handful of female names after 1892, but they're not as colorful. Maybe it's just the small sample size talking.

Up until about 1900, the commencement speeches were mostly on harmless or interesting topics, like "Socialism," "Talent and Genius," or "There Is No Conflict Between Science and Religion." After 1900, around the time the Alabama constitution was being rewritten to ensure that white supremacy would be the law of the land forever, none of these bright young men seem to want to talk about anything but "The Negro Problem." Then I got tired of them and stopped recording, even though their names were as excellent as ever.

There's lots of Alabama Polytechnic material, but I suspect this Deep South engineering college is mostly too culturally distant from Shrewsbury High School to be very useful when I revise my Emilyfic, though pictures of clothes and buildings are always welcome.

P.S.: Alabama still has that constitution, and it's over 800 pages long because part of the "enshrining white supremacy" program included making the Alabama state government so centralized that you literally have to add an amendment to the constitution in order to levy a garbage collection tax. It is the size of three Evelyn Blake Diaries and no one really wants to go near it because it is a massive shambling abomination.


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 4th, 2014 01:16 am (UTC)
Ohh I love names! But OMG some of these are just...these are so not the sort of names I would have expected, especially from middle- or upper-class kids in the 1800s. I've never even heard of a few and the a lot of the others are just way out there.
Mar. 4th, 2014 03:08 am (UTC)
Names are the best! <3

There are a couple of naming conventions intersecting here to make the magic happen. A lot of it is "family name" tradition, where kids are given the surnames of ancestors or a mother's maiden name as a first or middle name -- that's mostly how you would end up, in the 19thC U.S., with a name like "Sweat" or "Dozier" or "Flake." This was popular in the pseudo-aristocratic white South, but you see it in a lot of other groups that are very family-conscious. Combine that with some Biblical and classical names to show off your religiosity and education, plus a smattering of more recent generals and politicians, and you get . . . a lot of names like the above.

There are plenty of less-spectacular names on the graduation rolls, but maybe not as many as you might expect.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )


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