Who’s who? Networking the Presbytery’s Involvement

This network represents the connections between and among men associated with Davidson College’s founding, as identified by the Concord Presbytery minutes from 1835-1838.

The Presbytery provided the impetus for founding a college, but relied on the actions of individuals to work out the logistics. Presbytery members and prominent Presbyterian men in the community worked together on committees to find land for the college, purchase building materials, elect professors, and more.

Each man is represented by a “node,” the circles on the graph. Men are connected by “edges,” the lines between circles, if they served on a committee together. This graph certainly does not represent the full extent of the men’s social relationships, but instead focuses on committee work as a way to explore who controlled information and power related to high level decision-making about Davidson College.

View an interactive version of the network, with analysis, here.



Major takeaways

(please see interactive version of the map for full analysis)

1) Founders weren’t exclusively Presbytery members (who were all ministers), but included other prominent Presbyterian landowners, doctors, and businessmen.

2) Power and information in the network was dispersed relatively broadly. The structure of the network reflects the more general structure of the Presbyterian Church in America at the time, which was founded on principles of democratic rule.

Who’s not here?

This network contains only white Presbyterian men of relatively high socioeconomic status. Therefore, it is really only a narrow slice of the number of people who actually had a hand in creating Davidson College. This graph looks at the distribution of power and information among final decision-makers only. For a more comprehensive history of Davidson’s founding, I recommend reading “A History of Davidson College” by Mary Beaty (1988) and “One Town, Many Voices” by Jan Blodgett and Ralph Levering (2012).



Bibliographic resources

I was unable to locate information for all nodes in the interactive network. The bibliographic information I did find  came from the following sources:

Beaty, Mary. 1988. A History of Davidson College. Davidson, N.C.: Briarpatch Press.

Powell, 1979-1996. William S. Dictionary of North Carolina Biography. Vol. 1-6. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press.

Shaw, Cornelia Rebekah. 1923. Davidson College. New York: Fleming H. Revell Press.

Tompkins, D.A. 1903. History of Mecklenburg County and the City of Charlotte from 1740-1903.  Vol. 1 and 2. Charlotte: Observer Printing House.

Withers, W.A., ed. 1891. The Semi-Centennial Catalogue of Davidson College. Raleigh: E. M. Uzzell.


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