Hyde has produced a well-researched and clearly written history of education and schooling in the Gulf States before the Civil War. Too often, she claims, scholars have overlooked the extent to which southerners valued education. By 1860, the three Gulf States had mandated state systems of public schools for white children, reflecting a wider regional commitment to intellectual improvement. Schooling in the Antebellum South argues that, contrary to the writings of many historians of education, white citizens in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama embraced learning.

Historians of education have eclectic research interests. Most of them study institutions such as schools while some focus on the wider sources of learning. Hyde explores both formal and informal arenas of instruction in the antebellum South, confirming some well-known themes. The wealthiest families, including the planter class, often hired tutors and sent their daughters to privately run academies and their sons to college. Middle-class families...

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