Explore Spirit archive by topic

Primary Sources:

One of the best guides for exploring literature and journalism from this era remains the 22 subjects typical of Old Southwestern Humor, as set forth by Hennig Cohen & William B. Dillingham in Humor of the Old Southwest. We'd like to thank the University of Georgia Press for permission to reproduce these here. Click on any topic below to get a list of titles, authors, publication information, and links to transcripts and facsimiles.

[ 1 ] The Hunt
[ 2 ] Fights, mock fights, reluctant fighters, and animal fights
[ 3 ] Courtship, rejected suitors, weddings, and honeymoons
[ 4 ] Frolics and dances
[ 5 ] Games, horse races, and other contests
[ 6 ] Militia drills (and other military sketches)
[ 7 ] Elections and electioneering
[ 8 ] The legislature, the courtroom, and lawyers
[ 9 ] Sermons, camp meetings, preachers, and religious experiences
[10] The visitor in a humble home, rude accommodations for travelers
[11] The native country boy in the city
[12] The riverboat, life on the river
[13] Adventures of a rogue
[14] Pranks and tricks of a practical joker, hoaxes
[15] Gambling
[16] Trades and swindles
[17] Cures, sickness and bodily discomfort, medical treatments
[18] Drunks and drinking
[19] Dandies, foreigners, Yankees, and city slickers
[20] Odd characters and local eccentrics
[21] Modesty, immodesty, and false modesty
[22] Actors, the theater, and theatrics

We have placed sketches of military life under topic 6. We have also added a few categories for pieces that do not quite fall under any of Cohen and Dillingham's subjects:

[23] Tales of survival
[24] Women on the Frontier

[25] Coming of Civilization

Online Secondary Sources and Criticism

Hardy, Valerie. "The Genteel Humorist and the Journalist of the American Frontier: An Examination of Baldwin's The Flush Times of Alabama and Mississippi, 'A Domestic Scene,' 'Sloshing About,' and 'A Hanging Case in Kentucky' ." Essay prepared for Eng. 423, Humor of the Southern Frontier, May 2001.

Whitesides, Kristin. "Pugnacity, Power, Prurience and Greed: Preachers from the Frontier to the Television." Essay prepared for Eng. 423, Humor of the Southern Frontier, May 2001. Revised summer, 2004.

Life and Times:

Primary Sources: nonfiction

Photography and digital video of recreations of frontier life (under development)