James W. Loewen (1942-2021)

We mourn the loss of our friend and colleague and remain committed to the work he began.

Slavery, Secession, the Confederacy, Civil War, and Reconstruction

Lee Circle Library Shriners Card
This series of eras in the middle of the 1800s have long posed our largest public history problem. This section treats these matters as rendered on the landscape, such as this postcard of Lee Circle, New Orleans.

What to Do about Confederate Monuments

Most of Loewen’s articles argued precisely to do this, so they are now happily outmoded as matters for action, except that historical markers need to go up in their stead, telling what was here, when, why, when it was removed, and why.

Opera: A Form of Public History?

Loewen wrote a terrific opera libretto on the end of the Civil War. This libretto is available without charge for any person, composer, institution, opera program, etc. that wants to make use of it. Loewen had in mind a “regular” opera, but the music might include slave melodies, jazz, classical …. It is also available without charge, to any group that wishes to modify it into a play. Contact the webmaster for written approval. There may even be some financial support for it as an opera production.

Reconstruction as a Public History Problem

Every “antebellum home” in the South is also a “Reconstruction home.” Most of them are silent about Recontruction, however, or simply say “After the war the estate fell on hard times.” Of course! It’s hard to make a fortune off others’ labor when you have to pay them! As a result, however, the visiting public doesn’t get a chance to learn much about this important era. Loewen has written a lot about Reconstruction, in Mississippi: Conflict and Change (with Charles Sallis et al.), Lies Across America, Teaching What Really Happened, and these articles: