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The South in Color: A Visual Journal

The South in Color: A Visual Journal

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The South in Color: A Visual Journal

139 pages
45 minutes
Jul 1, 2016


Since the moment William Ferris's parents gave their twelve-year-old son a Kodak Brownie Hawkeye camera for Christmas in 1954, Ferris passionately began to photograph his world. He has never stopped. The sixties and seventies were a particularly significant period for Ferris as he became a pathbreaking documentarian of the American South. This beautiful, provocative collection of 100 of Ferris's photographs of the South, taken during this formative period, capture the power of his color photography. Color film, as Ferris points out in the book's introduction, was not commonly used by documentarians during the latter half of the twentieth century, but Ferris found color to work in significant ways in the photographic journals he created of his world in all its permutations and surprises.

The volume opens with images of his family's farm and its workers--family and hired--southeast of Vicksburg, Mississippi. The images are at once lyrical and troubling. As Ferris continued to photograph people and their homes, churches, and blues clubs, their handmade signs and folk art, and the roads that wound through the region, divisive racial landscapes become part of the record. A foreword by Tom Rankin, professor of visual studies and former director of the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University, provides rich insight into Ferris's work.

Jul 1, 2016

Despre autor

William Ferris is Joel R. Williamson Eminent Professor of History and senior associate director of the Center for the Study of the American South at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. A former chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities, Ferris is coeditor of the award-winning Encyclopedia of Southern Culture and author of several other books, including the informal trilogy The South in Color: A Visual Journal, The Storied South: Voices of Writers and Artists, and Give My Poor Heart Ease: Voices of the Mississippi Blues.

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The South in Color - William Ferris


The South in Color


Foreword by TOM RANKIN


Chapel Hill

© 2016 William Ferris

All rights reserved

Manufactured in China

Designed by Richard Hendel

Set in Linoletter

by Tseng Information Systems, Inc.

The University of North Carolina Press has been a member of the Green Press Initiative since 2003.

Jacket illustration: Unidentified fireworks salesman, Leland, Mississippi, circa 1976. Photograph by Bill Ferris.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Names: Ferris, William R., photographer. | Rankin, Tom, writer of foreword.

Title: The South in color: a visual journal/William Ferris; foreword by Tom Rankin.

Other titles: H. Eugene and Lillian Youngs Lehman series.

Description: Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, [2016] | Series: H. Eugene and Lillian Youngs Lehman series | Includes bibliographical references and index.

Identifiers: LCCN 2016012009| ISBN 9781469629698 (cloth: alk. paper) | ISBN 9781469629698 (ebook)

Subjects: LCSH: Southern States—Pictorial works.

Classification: LCCF210 .F47 2016 | DDC 975.0022/2—dc23 LC record available at http://lccn.loc.gov/2016012009

This book was published with the assistance of the H. Eugene and Lillian Youngs Lehman Fund of the University of North Carolina Press. A complete list of books published in the Lehman Series appears at the end of the book.


whose compassionate spirit hovers over this work, who taught me the meaning of love and understanding

For Mother


My parents both died,

In the same room.

He faced west.

She faced east,

Thirty-six years apart.

When Daddy died,

Mother remarked that,

It was the last time,

He would make the drive,

Down the hill.

Like Daddy, this week,

She traveled,

Past that same familiar view,

Of woods and pastures,

Through rows of

Watermelon crepe myrtle,

Planted by our grandmother,

Past Rose Hill Church,

Distant space above,

Firm earth below.

The farm they knew,

And loved so long,

Bid them both farewell,

Safe journey down the hill.



Foreword by Tom Rankin









Selected Bibliography


In the middle of the 1990s, Bill Ferris and I caught a train—named the City of New Orleans—in Batesville, Mississippi, for a quick trip south to New Orleans. We were going to New Orleans to meet with the Delta Queen Steamboat Company, with an overnight stay and dinner meeting planned to discuss possible educational collaborations between the Center for the Study of Southern Culture at the University of Mississippi and the company’s many riverboat cruises up and down the Mississippi River. We were on a fundraising trek, really, with me along simply as supporting cast to help in the effort. Settling into our train seats side by side, we gradually pulled out of Batesville headed toward Jackson. The City of New Orleans route has changed since then, but at that time Amtrak essentially mirrored Highway 51, running through Grenada and then Winona, from there on through Durant and Canton, then making a short stop in Jackson before continuing on to New Orleans. The weather was splendid, the light near perfect, and Bill and I talked as we rumbled over the slight Mississippi hills. We both brought work to do on the train, things to read and correspondence to answer, but it’s our talking and looking I most remember.

Train travel offers such a distinctive point of view on the landscape and towns of all sizes, with the train car window providing a kind of perpetual photographic frame around the world passing by. We relished seeing the backsides of businesses, the industrial spaces and lumberyards in even the smallest of places, the backyards of communities, all those crossroads of commerce and culture that are often invisible to car

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