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Overview  |  18th Century  |  19th Century  |  20th Century  |  Credits

Overview
 
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Reconstruction and the Guilded Age
Although the country was reunified and moving toward international prominence, the North and South were developing in different ways. Jim Crow thrived in the South and the Robber Barons began to dominate the national economy. The aristocracy, North and South, which had sent its sons to Yale saw a new capitalist, urban culture emerge. New money from northern industrialists such as the Vanderbilts, Sterlings, and Harknesses supported the rapid construction of the residential colleges, library and graduate school school. Social life began to revolve around secret societies, eating clubs, and the other groups formed from the ranks of New England's prestigious and elite boarding schools. Southerners entered a social order dominated by this group, and felt it necessary to form their own brotherhood.

The Southern Club first appeared in the Yale Banner in 1895. Between 1895 and 1905, their logo exhibited themes related to persistent racial stereotypes, alcohol, guns, and women. One of the early club logos depicted a Sambo-like black man chasing a chicken down the street. These logos suggest a reliance on entrenched stereotypes and icons of southern life in the face of a new and unfamiliar social elite. The Southern Club had chapters on the majority of the Ivy League campuses. An April 1898 article in the Atlanta Journal reported the annual meeting of the Southern Clubs that was held at Harvard that year. The members ate, drank, sang "Dixie," and discussed the contributions of southerners in the Ivy League.

The Southern Renaissance in literature and the emergence of southern universities, in the first decades of the twentieth century, created a new generation of southern intellectuals and writers who gained national. As these changes occurred in the South, Yale was expanding and opening its doors to a larger portion of the American population. New professors without Yale degrees and students without New England pedigrees began to arrive in New Haven.

One of the best-known figures of the Southern Renaissance, William Faulkner, came to New Haven in April 1918. Living in an apartment at 120 York Street, Faulkner worked in the Winchester Arms Factory while visiting his friend Phil Stone (B.A. '14, LAW '18). Faulkner's letters from New Haven to his parents in Mississippi offer a glimpse into the life of a southerner living at Yale in the beginning of the twentieth century. He was intrigued by the lack of African-Americans in New Haven and the suprisingly large number of southerners living in the city itself. The obsession with the clock and the other trappings of industrialization, such as trolleys, trains, and large factories, were both fascinating and annoying to Faulkner. He found the people friendly and interesting, although excessively preoccupied with status and tradition. Many literary critics argue that Faulkner's Quentin Compson of Absalom, Absalom! and The Sound and the Fury are based on the author's observations of Yale and New Haven. In 1942, Yale became the first university to exhibit Faulkner's writings since much of his work was out of print.