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Editor's Note:

On July 20, 1879 an undersized thirty-year-old journalist from Atlanta known as Joe Harris began a journey from relative obscurity to interregional fame. On that day, the Atlanta Constitution published the young copy editor's "Story of Mr. Rabbit and Mr. Fox as told by Uncle Remus." Within months, magazines across the country were reprinting his tales, and after more than 1,000 written requests for a collection, the first Uncle Remus book was published in November, 1880.

At the time, Harris said his purpose was not ethnology, or folklore analysis, but simply documentation. He doubted that his stories and character sketches would have any lasting historical value. He was wrong.

Uncle Remus: Social Context and Ramifications is an attempt to reintroduce Harris' tales, and his legendary narrator, while placing them in a historical context. The primary sources and commentaries we offer hopefully will shed light on Harris' purpose in publishing his stories and the public response to both his Remus tales and his other works. They will make observations about post-Civil War black culture, and Southern society in general, using the stories and the reactions they engendered as points of reference.

Hopefully, this collection will offer other students of the South one or two new insights into the region's endlessly complex myths and meanings.

Melissa Murray
Dominic Perella


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