Dr. Samuel C. Hyde, Jr.
Director, Center for Southeast Louisiana Studies
Dr. Samuel C. Hyde, Jr., Professor of History at Southeastern Louisiana University, is the Director of the Center for Southeast Louisiana Studies and holds the Leon Ford Endowed Chair in Regional History.
Hyde, a northern Tangipahoa Parish native who has extensively studied the history of the Florida Parishes, is the author of Pistols and Politics: Feuds, Factions, and the Struggle for Order in Louisiana's Florida Parishes 1810 - 1935 (winner of the 2019 Michael V.R. Thomason Award for Best Book on Gulf South History) and author/editor of Plain Folk of the South Revisited. Rebel Bayou, co-written with Sarah Hyde and published in 2022, is his first work of historical fiction highlighting regional history.
Dr. Hyde is also the author/editor of Sunbelt Revolution: The Historical Progression of the Civil Struggle in the Gulf South, 1866-2000; A Fierce and Fractious Frontier: The Curious Development of Louisiana's Florida Parishes, 1699-2000; A Wisconsin Yankee in Confederate Bayou Country: The Civil War Reminiscences of a Union General, among other publications.He is author of numerous articles including “Plain Folk Reconsidered: Historiographical Ambiguity in Search of Definition” ( Journal of Southern History, November 2005).
Hyde’s research centers primarily on patterns of criminal/homicidal behavior in the nineteenth and twentieth century rural South. Focusing on blood feuds and other sources of interpersonal violence, his work includes the use of cliometrics and Game Theory analysis to support conclusions. Through use of such methodologies, Hyde’s research reveals that certain regions of the rural South, subject to inordinate rates of homicide, have become trapped in a state of undesirable equilibrium, a functioning balance that becomes the norm of society. Violence becomes an accepted part of life – not merely an accepted but an expected response to certain situations. The undesirable equilibrium motivates juries and the public at large to embrace safe obscurity, rather than risk challenging the status quo, rendering the system of justice ineffective. The state of equilibrium continues until a person or group makes a credible commitment for change, one that puts their own interests at visible risk in order to break the cycle.
In Pistols and Politics, Hyde argues that the same conditions that contributed to the state of undesirable equilibrium in regions of the rural South are evident in many of our urban centers today. He offers the EAR formulation (education, accountability, and resources) as a potential path forward to credible commitment for change and provides research to suggest increasing success achieved through the formulation.
Hyde’s newest study, forthcoming in 2024, analyzes the less revealed sources behind Louisiana’s curious non-unanimous jury verdict rule and offers an assessment of the implications of the rules’ repeal.
He is also script writer and producer of numerous films including Louisiana's Florida Parishes: Securing the Good Life From a Troubled Land; Reluctant Americans: The West Florida Revolt, Completing the Louisiana Purchase; The Manchac Swamp: Manmade Disaster in Search of Resolution; and the recent award winning American Crisis, American Shame: The National Consequence of Coastal Erosion (recipient of the 2009 gold medal for environmental documentary from the New York International Independent Film and Video Festival).
He serves as executive director of the Gulf South Historical Association and his work has been featured in numerous regional and national media outlets such as The Discovery Channel, The History Channel, The Travel Channel, ABC's World News Tonight, National Public Radio, The Washington Post, and The New York Times.