Date of Award

Spring 5-13-2016

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Middle and Secondary Education

First Advisor

Chara Haeussler Bohan

Second Advisor

Philo Hutcheson

Third Advisor

Joseph Feinberg

Fourth Advisor

David Stinson

Fifth Advisor

Victoria Maria MacDonald


G. Gunby Jordan, a southern industrialist, banker, and philanthropist, became one of the forefathers of modern vocational educational practices in the United States. Exercising his influence in various economic endeavors as well as most educational experiments in Columbus, GA, he developed a “practical” educational system that began to resemble the stratified and paternalistic textile mill towns that dominated Columbus, GA in the early twentieth century. The purpose of this research is to document the influence that Jordan’s policies, ideals, and friends had on the development of vocational education in Columbus, GA. Racial and class conflicts impacted the success of educational reforms began by Jordan; these themes are continually explored throughout this research in order to discern how they influenced the policies and legacy of G. Gunby Jordan. This manuscript is organized by a combination of thematic and chronological structures. When chronological order would benefit the understanding of the subject of the research it will be employed; but in order to engage the reader in a myriad of topics and ideas throughout this dissertation, the thematic approach presents itself as the more desirable alternative than simple chronology. Despite Jordan’s contributions to the history of vocational education, no biography of Jordan has ever been written, thus Jordan’s influence within the city gave birth to a specific kind of education that has yet to be explored. Utilizing historical research methods, I have incorporated primary sources from numerous archives, historic newspapers, the private collection of the Jordan family, and numerous secondary resources to analyze Jordan’s educational influence in Columbus, GA. This research revealed that the power of Jordan’s monumental contributions to educational policies was due to his political and financial status; this combination produced an industrial tycoon, an educational idealist, and a man who was an agent for change. Jordan did not act alone in his reforms for Columbus. Through his collaboration with industrial and philanthropist colleagues, he was able to make significant improvements to libraries, adult education, kindergartens, vocational education, and African American education in Columbus while continuing policies that would discriminate and subjugate those who were deemed unworthy of moral, social, and economic promotion.