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About Library of Southern Literature

The goal of the "Library of Southern Literature" is to make one hundred of the most important works of Southern literature published before 1920 available world-wide for teaching and research. Currently, this collection includes over eighty titles that were digitized with special funding from the Chancellor and the University Library of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

The Southern United States has been a distinct region since the colonial period, and its literature has developed in connection with, but also divergently from American literature as a whole. The South claims prominent and world-renowned authors, including Edgar Allan Poe and Mark Twain, but also lesser known authors who created works that reflected Southern attitudes and experiences. Teachers of literature as well as historians and other scholars of Southern culture need access to literary texts that illustrate these differences, and many of these important Southern works are no longer in print and are not widely held in libraries.

Noting this lack of available titles, the late Dr. Robert Bain volunteered to help Documenting the American South by developing the bibliography for it. Dr. Bain was a faculty member at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and taught American and Southern literature from 1964 until 1995. He also co-edited five scholarly works on Southern writers. To prepare this bibliography of Southern Literature, Dr. Bain wrote to some fifty scholars throughout the United States who specialize in Southern and American literature requesting that they nominate what they considered to be the ten most important works of Southern literature published before 1920. From their responses, Dr. Bain compiled the bibliography on which this collection is based. He completed the list three months before his death in July 1996.

With additional funding from the University Library, this collection continues to grow. Dr. Joe Flora, professor of English at UNC-Chapel Hill, guides the expansion of this collection beyond Dr. Bain's original bibliography.

The original texts for the "Library of Southern Literature" come from the University Library of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, which includes the Southern Historical Collection, one of the largest collections of Southern manuscripts in the country and the North Carolina Collection, the most complete printed documentation of a single state anywhere. The DocSouth Editorial Board, composed of faculty and librarians at UNC and staff from the UNC Press, oversees this collection and all other collections on Documenting the American South.

Learn more about this Collection and Southern Literature: