Archive | Oral Histories

Graduate Internships at the Avery Research Center

Graduate Internships at the Avery Research Center

Hosting Institution: Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture in Charleston, South Carolina

Through its research facilities, museum exhibits, archival collections and numerous outreach programs, the Avery Research Center tells the rich story of the lives and contributions of Africans and African Americans in the Lowcountry and the wider African Diaspora.

Listing Department(s): School of Library and Information Science (USC); History, Historic Preservation, Arts Management (CofC); African American Studies; Urban Studies; Political Science; Sociology; Anthropology; Women’s and Gender Studies; African Studies
Requested Number: 2 Graduate Students
Commitment: Internships begin at the start of the Fall or Spring semester and require at least 10 hours/week for 14 weeks.  Please inquire for information on Summer internships.


The interns must be available for ten hours during the workweek, Monday through Friday, during the hours of 10am to 5pm.

The weekly time commitment may be broken into shifts of 2-5 hours.

Compensation: Academic Credit / Unpaid
Goals: The Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture seeks undergraduate interns to assist in a dynamic and engaging program of collecting, transcribing, and archiving manuscript collections and oral histories. Students will gain professional training and hands-on experience in the collection of oral histories that reveal untold stories of the civil rights revolution; labor and work; gender and African American women; race and the city of Charleston; and struggles for “Black Power” in the American South.  Students will be trained in the professional standards of conducting, transcribing, preserving, and digitizing oral history interviews.  As students work with the material, they will also be encouraged to use our oral history collection to conduct their own research and student papers.
Description: Avery interns will be stationed in the Reading Room to assist the Public Historian with the transcription of oral histories already conducted.  Additionally, interns may have the opportunity to go out into the local community to conduct oral histories of their own, with the oversight and assistance of the Public Historian.

Student interns will also have the opportunity to work with the Director of Archival Services on Avery’s substantial manuscript collections.  Students will assist with reference material, exhibits and tours, archival arrangement, organization, and description.

Each intern will be expected to write at least one publishable blog post on an oral history collection or research topic related to Avery’s archival holdings.  Where possible, the Public Historian will strive for a match between student interests and oral history projects.

Enrichment: Weekly, the Public Historian will have one-on-one meetings with interns to assess the students’ experiences and to discuss the problems, possibilities, and potential richness of their work in oral history.
Evaluation: Students will have mid-term and end-of-term evaluations conducted by the Public Historian.
Feedback: Students will also have the opportunity to provide feedback to the Avery internship program through mid-term and end-of-term evaluations.
To apply or request more information, please contact Avery’s Public Historian, Dr. Robert Chase, at chasert at cofc dot edu.  Interested applicants should include a current resume and cover letter.


Hutchinson Recounts Charleston Church History

If you have lived south of Broad Street, there is a great chance that you may remember a very agile, tiny man, Mr. Felder Hutchinson, serving you as a mail carrier for over thirty years until his retirement in 1985.  If you are a member of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church on Thomas Street, you may have had the pleasure of encountering Hutchinson either as a dedicated Sunday school teacher, vestryman, warden, or lay reader — just to name a few of his numerous functions.

In 1985, Dr. Edmund L. Drago and Dr. Eugene Hunt conducted an interview with Felder Hutchinson as part of the Avery Normal Institute Oral History Project. In this oral history, Hutchinson provides great insight on Charleston history.  Although Hutchinson was not a historian by training, he clearly was an avid collector of memories and documents, especially pertaining to St. Mark’s Episcopal Church.

I remember a quote from the former director of the Avery Research Center, Dr. Marvin Dulaney, who asked my African American Studies class back in 2007: “Do you really believe we have left segregation behind us? Why is it then that our nation is so segregated on Sunday mornings at 11am?”  At that moment it wasn’t quite clear to me what he was trying to get at, but then this interview made it click for me: yes, why is it that white folks and black folks in the Holy City each flock to their churches separately every week?  Well, there are various reasons and multiple books and dissertations have been published on this issue; but as I listened to Hutchinson’s interview he gave a very interesting, personal account on the creation and founding of his beloved church: St. Mark’s Episcopal.

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$25 and a 9 Hour Ride

Working on Avery’s Oral History Collection for the past few months has probably taught me more history about the Lowcountry region and the Civil Rights Movement than any other educational source. So today, I want to share with you a tiny part of an interview with Septima Poinsette Clark that was recorded in 1982, which struck me for various reasons. It is fascinating to hear this lady -– the Grandmother of the Civil Rights Movement –- talk about her family history and her upbringing on Henrietta Street.  (Did you know that Charleston is actually more residentially segregated today than it ever was?)

Septima Clark with papers

I’m sure most of you have heard of Ms. Clark, who is an alumna of the Avery Normal Institute, in the context of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and her alliance with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  Some of you may also know that she actually got banned from teaching in Charleston in 1956 because she was a member of the NAACP — two years after the Supreme Court ruled Brown vs. the Board of Education unconstitutional!

But what really caught my attention in this oral history was Ms. Clark recounting her first teaching experience on John’s Island.  Back in 1916, it actually took a nine-hour boat ride through the creeks, depending on the tide,  to get to the island from Charleston since there were no bridges. Can you imagine?

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