On September 9, 2010, the Executive Director of the Filson Historical Society in Louisville was the opening speaker in WKU Libraries’ eighth annual Kentucky Live Series. The series took place in Barnes & Noble Booksellers in Bowling Green, KY. The topic of his talk was “Steamboating on the Western Waters: Bicentennial Reflections.” At the end of the talk he signed his book.
He says he was most influenced by the southern sense of place, southern history and southern literature. His love of history came from reading and hearing older people talk about people and the past. His research has focused on people and their lives in the area he grew up in (Piney Woods, Georgia) from about 1850-1910. In his first book The New South Comes to Wiregrass Georgia, 1860-1910 published by the University of Tennessee Press in 1994, he explored the transformation of an area characterized by pine forests, northern tourists and health seekers to one of cotton production and tenancy. It won the American Historical Association’s Herbert Feis Award. His most recent book plain folk’s fight: The Civil War & Reconstruction in Piney Woods Georgia was published by the University of North Carolina Press in 2005 and won an Award of Excellence from the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office. In it he examines the effects of the Civil War on the rural Southern home front in the wiregrass region of southern Georgia.
A native of Tifton, Georgia Mark grew up in Milan, Georgia where he attended public schools and thought about being an archaeologist or maybe a lawyer. After a stint in the US Navy he enrolled at Georgia Southern College from where he received his BA and MA in history before transferring to the University of Tennessee at Knoxville for his PhD.