The Persistence of the Dunning School

One of the most notable characteristics of Reconstruction scholarship is the need felt by many scholars to launch their studies by reviewing the evolution of Reconstruction historiography.  Generally this starts with a reference to what has become known as “the Dunning School,” named after Columbia University Professor William A. Dunning and his graduate students (although in this case other work is also grouped under this label, including the writings of Dunning’s colleague, John W. Burgess).  Indeed, “Dunning School” is something of an artificial construct, in that Dunning and his students were not the only people espousing these views: rather, their scholarship gave the sanction of historical scholarship to them (today a detractor might well call them “politically correct” scholarship for its time).

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