The Commission recommends the following resources for those interested in furthering their understanding of the topics under consideration.
Washington and Lee: Education and History
In 2017-18, the Office of the Provost has planned a series of events, speakers, gatherings, and forums that will all contribute to the ongoing study of our history and our culture. These programs are meant to continue and complicate our constant self-examination and self-study, as we grapple with our complex historical past and what it means for our present and our future. Our entire community is welcome to attend and participate in all of these events throughout the year.
African-Americans at W&L: A Timeline
In August 2013, Washington and Lee President Kenneth P. Ruscio established a special working group to examine the role of African Americans in the history of the University, including a straightforward look at the history of enslaved people at the institution and themes, trends and important moments up to the present time.
Part of the work of the Commission involves delving into the university's history and endeavoring to distinguish facts from myths. To this end, we have been educating ourselves by reading relevant books, articles and academic papers. Since the Washington and Lee community has shown a great deal of interest in the Commission's activities, we created a short bibliography which we urge those interested in our work to read, at least in part. Below is a list of five books we selected as initial sources of inquiry and study. W&L history is complicated and nuanced, and we want our story to be accurate.
- General Lee's College by Ollinger Crenshaw (1969 and 2017). Crenshaw, a 1925 graduate and longtime professor of American History at Washington and Lee, wrote a well-researched and comprehensive history of the institution from the time of the founding of Augusta Academy in 1749 until the mid-1930s. Long out of print, the book was recently reprinted in paperback by Louisiana State University Press.
- Washington and Lee University: Traditions and Transformation 1930-2000 by Blaine Brownell (LSU Press, 2017). This recently published work by an alumnus who is a trained historian and former college professor and administrator, picks up where Crenshaw's work ends and highlights the development and growth of the university through such areas as the elimination of subsidized athletics, integration, and co-education.
- Reading the Man: A Portrait of Robert E. Lee Through his Private Letters by Elizabeth Brown Pryor (2007). The complex and nuanced nature of Lee's life is revealed and studied through a thorough analysis of his letters from childhood until his final days in office at Washington College. The book reveals a conflicted individual pondering performing his duty and honoring his principles during the tumult of military service, secession, war, reconciliation, and his final years in Lexington.
- The Man Who Would Not Be Washington by Jonathan Horn (2015). This recent work focuses on the nexus between George Washington and his distant relative and fellow decorated general Robert E. Lee. The author draws parallels and contrasts between our two founders at various critical points in their lives and careers.
- Monuments to the Lost Cause: Women, Art and the Landscapes of Southern Memory (2003) edited by Cynthia Mills and Pamela H. Simpson. A part of the Commission's charge is to examine memorials and imagery on the Washington and Lee campus. This work, co-authored by a former Professor of Art at the University, is an anthology that contains essays on Lee Chapel and public statuary promoted by the Lost Cause movement after the Civil War and lasting through the Jim Crow era and beyond.
The Commission will post a longer and more comprehensive bibliography in due course but wanted our community to have access to the books we collectively have committed to reading to inform our deliberations and frame our discussions and conclusions.
We are concerned that Monuments to the Lost Cause does not seem available online. We are looking into whether we can post on this website a chapter authored by our late colleague, Professor Pam Simpson.
We hope these readings are interesting and informative to those concerned with the areas President Dudley has asked the Commission to examine.