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Dr. Jerry Davis is an Upper School history teacher at The Oakridge School.

Research by an Oakridge teacher on Alabama’s “gobs” appears in the latest edition of Alabama Heritage. Dr. Jerry Davis, Jr. said it’s a never before published topic. His pursuit of the subject stemmed from his interests in genealogy and sailing.

“My great uncle served in the Navy during the Great War, and he is incorporated into this story,” Dr. Davis shared. “There are some books and articles about the individuals who represented Alabama, but they all focus on doughboys or the home front.” Doughboys was a term used for soldiers during World War I. Those enlisted in the Navy were called gobs. Davis, a native of Tuscaloosa, Ala., said these sailors indelibly shaped Alabama’s collective future, representing the state honorably as they navigated the myriad challenges of the sea.

Dr. Davis collaborated with historian Ruth Truss of the University of Montevallo, genealogist Berta Blackwell of Dale County, public historian Lee Freeman of the Florence-Lauderdale Public Library, archivist Vanessa Nicholson of Marion Military Institute, historian Martin T. Olliff of Troy University (Dothan, Ala.), Courtney Pinkard of the Alabama Department of Archives and History, the staff of the Southern History Department of the Birmingham Public Library, and Joni Wood of the Ozark Dale County Public Library. Among the more surprising discoveries that resulted from his two-year research was learning that the Royal Navy desperately needed help by the summer of 1917, as it hovered on the verge of utter failure.

The work appears in the spring 2022 issue of Alabama Heritage. The quarterly magazine is published by the University of Alabama, University of Alabama at Birmingham, and Alabama Department of Archives and History.

“Dr. Davis’s research on Alabamians who served in the U.S. Navy during World War I is an important addition to the scholarship available about Alabama's contribution to that global conflict,” said Dr. Susan Reynolds, editor of Alabama Heritage. “His article has opened the door for others to continue the research, and we look forward to learning more about Alabamians who served in World War I.”

Head of School Jon Kellam commended Dr. Davis and called him an example of the faculty excellence intrinsic to The Oakridge School. “Dr. Davis is committed to teaching and productive scholarship as it relates to culture and the history of our nation,” he said. “I am proud, yet unsurprised, that his work would be published in an award-winning magazine focused on education, history, and culture.”

Dr. Jerry Davis joined Oakridge in 1998 and served in leadership roles in admissions and college advising before returning to the classroom to teach Upper School history. He received his Ph.D. from the University of New Mexico, his M.A. from the University of Alabama, and his B.A. from Tulane University. 

About The Oakridge School

Established in 1979, The Oakridge School is an independent, co-educational, college preparatory, day school for students age 3 through grade 12. The school draws a diverse student body from 22 area cities and 8 countries to a dynamic learning environment on a 100-acre campus in Arlington. The Oakridge School mission is to inspire students to seek their full potential in academics, the arts, and athletics in a challenging and nurturing environment that cultivates social responsibility, mutual respect, and personal integrity. To learn more about The Oakridge School, visit