Background on the naming of Memorial Hall

Vanderbilt University has designated residence hall “Confederate Memorial Hall” as simply “Memorial Hall.” The new name is intended to honor the men and women who have lost their lives in this country’s armed conflicts.

The decision to change the name of the building was not made lightly. It came after careful consideration and review, and will be effective immediately. This is one of a number of changes that have been made at Vanderbilt in recent years to create a positive, inclusive environment, and to ensure that the University’s facilities and symbols do not inadvertently reflect values that are inconsistent with its mission.

Confederate Memorial Hall was constructed in 1935 on the campus of the former George Peabody College for Teachers with partial funding from the United Daughters of the Confederacy. Its stated purpose was to provide housing for young women who would become teachers at a time when they were sorely needed in the South. George Peabody College merged with Vanderbilt in 1979, and its facilities became part of the Vanderbilt campus.

In 1989, after a renovation of the building led to a vigorous campus debate over the appropriateness of the name, a plaque was added to the building explaining origins and historical significance of the then-Confederate Memorial Hall, and the contributions of the United Daughters of the Confederacy to its construction. That historic marker will remain in its current location inside the lobby.

The role of the United Daughters of the Confederacy in preparing young women for careers in education during a difficult time in this nation’s past remains an important part of Vanderbilt’s history.


Text of the historic marker:

“Constructed in 1935 by George Peabody College for Teachers in part with funds raised at personal sacrifice during the Great Depression by Tennessee women of the United Daughters of the Confederacy in memory of their fathers and brothers who fought in the war between the North and South 1861-65. Dedicated to the education of teachers for a region sorely in need of them. Renovated by Vanderbilt University in 1988 for continued service to all students. 1989”

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