English, Department of


First Advisor

Kenneth M. Price

Date of this Version

Spring 4-23-2020

Document Type



A THESIS Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Master of Arts, Major: English, Under the Supervision of Professor Kenneth M. Price. Lincoln, Nebraska: April, 2020

Copyright 2020 Ashlyn Stewart


The top weekly publication in the nineteenth-century United States, Harper’s Weekly, faced a new challenge after it had survived the Civil War: what would keep readers subscribing to the periodical in peacetime? To maintain their remarkably large readership, the editors looked southward and produced abundant content about the Reconstruction South for its primarily Northeastern readership. A noteworthy portion of that content was a series of powerful illustrated articles known as “Pictures of the South,” which ran from April to October 1866. Seasoned war correspondents Alfred R. Waud and Theodore R. Davis travelled through the rapidly rebuilding South on behalf of Harper’s Weekly, sending captivating sketches to be engraved and riveting reports to be shared with a distant readership. Their articles cover crucial Reconstruction events like the Memphis Massacre and the New Orleans Massacre, thus shaping the national narrative about the terror that newly emancipated African Americans experienced in the South. Waud and Davis also shared striking lifestyle pieces that reveal the South to be full of diverse characters and experiences, far richer than the stereotypes many Northeastern readers held. Together, Waud’s and Davis’s reporting creates a story of the South as a region in the contested political period of Reconstruction. Today, that coverage enhances our understanding of a complicated and convoluted era that is increasingly seen as crucial in American history.

Advisor: Kenneth M. Price