Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Michelle Brattain

Second Advisor

Joe Perry

Third Advisor

Charles Steffen


The emergence and spread of electricity profoundly shaped the “long New South.” This dissertation traces the electrification of the US South from the 1880s to the 1970s. Focusing primarily on the Atlanta-based Georgia Power Company, it emphasizes that electricity’s rise was not simply the result of technological innovation. It was a multifaceted process that deeply influenced, and was influenced by, environmental alterations, political machinations, business practices, and social and cultural matters. Although it hewed to national and global patterns in many respects, southern electrification charted a distinctive and instructive path. Its story speaks to the ways the South’s experiences with electrification shaped larger American models of energy transitions and economic development, but also the ways it wrought dramatic changes in the fabric of everyday life.