University of Richmond Race & Racism Project

Lost Cause Ideology, Found at the University of Richmond

Students of Color in the Messenger


The University of Richmond has a deep connection to the Civil War, that extends from being located in Richmond, which was considered the Capital of the Confederacy. This exhibit is focused on repeated episodes of nostalgia for the Old South. The University began in 1830 as a Baptist Seminary. During the Civil War, the college ceased operation, as a majority of the faculty and students fought in the war for the Confederate Army. The school was in disarray after the war, as the Union Army occupied the campus, a fifth of the faculty and students had been killed in the war, and the University was bankrupt. Due to the donations of the Virginia Baptist Society and other members of the community, Richmond was able to re-establish itself after the Civil War in 1866.


Lost Cause Ideology 

The concept of Lost Cause Ideology is important to the understanding of this exhibit. Lost Cause Ideology was created after the Civil War in an attempt for Confederates and their descendants to shape the memory of the conflict, in a way that celebrate white souther heroism. Therefore, the focus was brought on creating the narrative that the Civil War was due to an economic need for secession, without focusing on the cornerstone of that labor, slavery. Part of the Lost Cause was also creating an image of the enslaved, as obedient, and happy to do the labor they were forced into.


This exhibit was created by Sabrina Garcia ('21) as part of an A&S Summer Fellowship in summer 2019.