Master’s Defense – John W. Prior II

Candidate: John W. Prior II
Master of Science in Geographic and Cartographic Science
Department of Geography and Geoinformation Science

Date: Tuesday, April 30th, 2019
Time: 2:00 – 3:30 PM
Place: Exploratory Hall 2304


Thesis Director: Dr. David Wong
Committee Members: Dr. Timothy Leslie and Dr. Matthew Rice

This thesis quantifies the extent of Alabama Black Belt during the ante-bellum era and the cotton credit system era. It then analyses the population histories of counties inside the Alabama Black Belt relative to other Alabama counties with similar economic characteristics during the Post-Cotton era 1910-2010. The analysis uses population processes of migration, natality and mortality to determine that the population in the Black Belt followed a different path than did the population in similar counties outside the Black Belt. The thesis then uses two measures of population distribution taken at decadal intervals to determine if the hierarchical market system within the Black Belt evolved differently than the market system in similar counties outside the Black Belt. This analysis uses a graph of the Pareto coefficient for rank-size distribution of settlements within each group of counties as one measure. Rural population density is a second measure. Together these two measures are proxies for employment and by extension the relative health of the regional economy. The results indicate the Black Belt counties, especially rural counties experienced different economic histories and as result the market systems in Black Belt counties evolved differently.