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ANNOUNCING Call for Papers and Panels: “The Fire Every Time: Reframing Black Power across the Twentieth Century and Beyond”

“The Fire Every Time: Reframing Black Power across the Twentieth Century and Beyond”

In the Fall of 2012, the Avery Research Center will host a public history symposium, dialogue, and community event examining the Black Power Movement in the Twentieth Century.

Generally typecast as radical, violent, and ultimately self-defeating, the Black Power Movement has been considered by some as an aberration of the Civil Rights Movement.  Still, others have viewed it as a destructive interruption and a politically ineffectual movement that derailed the civil rights agenda, resulting in white backlash, conservative retrenchment, and urban unrest.

Recent scholarship, however, has begun to rethink the meaning, geographical placement, periodization, and effect of “Black Power”, revealing deep historical roots in black communities and a profound and far more positive legacy than previously indicated. This conference will bring together activists, scholars, and students to review and discuss the Black Power Movement, its manifestations, and continuing impact.

For more information: http://blogs.cofc.edu/averynews/files/2012/02/Avery-Call-for-Papers-Black-Power-2012.pdf

IMLS Fellow Update

I have been working at the Avery Research Center for about a month now and I have been keeping busy and productive. My progress in the archives and social media are detailed below.


I have processed and created the finding aids for two collections, the Humane and Friendly Society and the Lecque Family Papers.

The abstract for the Humane and Friendly Society reads:

The Humane and Friendly Society was a benevolent society of free African American men in Charleston, South Carolina. The Society served as a way to provide for widows, orphaned children, a burial place for its members, and it also arranged apprenticeships and educational opportunities for African American men.

The collection consists of administrative materials of the Humane and Friendly Society including meeting minutes, correspondence, and membership lists. Topics of discussion include raising membership dues, care of the graveyard, and the rules of being a member. The record journal notes who paid dues, how long they have been a member of the Society, and where members are buried in Charleston. The plot records include completed and blank application forms.

Before I processed this collection I knew that there were organizations created by African-Americans that assisted the community in many aspects, but this was my first look at a society that was dedicated to helping to bury individuals. Working with this collection allowed me to see how deep racism is; that even in death African-Americans and Caucasians could not be next to each other.  One of the major issues of concerns within the meeting minutes was the cost of membership in relation to the upkeep of the Humane and Friendly Society cemetery (which is located in the Magnolia Complex).

The other collection that I worked on was the Lecque Family Papers. Working with a family collection as opposed to an organizational collection presents different challenges and context in terms of the arrangement and description. Since I am not from the area I did not know who the Lecque family was and why their collection would be here at Avery, but I read the newspaper clippings I began to see the role that the family had in establishing the Liberty Hill community in North Charleston. Most of the collection delves into the history of Liberty Hill and St. Peters’ African Methodist Episcopal (A.M.E.) Church, but the collection also consists of genealogical information, legal documents, funeral programs, and photographs of the Lecque family. Some of the photos were framed in oval sized frames and Ms. Georgette Mayo and I had to decide if we wanted to take the photos out of the frame or keep it in there. This was a preservation decision, we were not sure if we took the pictures out of the frame if the photo(s) would become damaged.  Ultimately, we decided that the photos should remain in the frames.  In order to obtain a better understanding of the family structure I did genealogical work on the Lecque family using Ancestry.com at the South Carolina Reading Room at the Charleston County Public Library. From there I used census records, the social security index, and draft cards to compile a list of birth and death dates and marriage information.

The collection that I am working on presently is the Prince Hall affiliated Order of the Eastern Star Chapter No. 41 Papers. This collection has been great to work on as I am interested in organizations that women are a part of and kinds of work that they do. The collection consists of administrative records, financial materials, records relating to the O.E.S. rituals and ceremonies, as well as material documenting the activities of Prince Hall Lodge No. 46 (the Charleston Lodge). I will post a full commentary on it when completed.

Social Media

The other activity that has been keeping me busy has been increasing Avery’s social media presence. I have been maintaining the Keep Your Eyes on the Prize blog well as updating Avery’s Facebook page on a daily basis with information about African-American issues, concerns, resources, etc. on a local and national level. From my efforts I have gained more “likes” on the Avery page and made connections with relevant people who are interested in African-American history and culture, historic preservation organizations, and cultural heritage societies locally, South Carolina, and nationally. Through these connections Avery obtains a broader network of supporters and also increases the visibility of the archival collections and encourages people to use our resources. In addition, we promote our programs and staff activities.

Ms. Mayo and I attended a webinar (an online workshop at the College of Charleston’s Addlestone Library) regarding the creation of interactive subject guides (a guide created by archivists and librarians that compiles relevant information about a certain subject/theme for researchers). Historically subject guides were static (i.e. text only), but now with the diverse modes of transmitting information this needs to be changed. The presentation stressed the importance of video, audio, and visual materials as well as including blogs, news feeds, and student created content in these subject guides. I am investigating the possibilities of using these types of subject guides at the Avery Research Center.

A couple of examples of interactive subject guides can be found here:

The presentation can be found online here

If you have any thoughts about what topics and themes you would want to see done as subject guides please comment below.

Robert Chase: An Introduction

The Avery Research Center is excited to welcome the newest member of our team, Robert Chase!  He began working here in September.

Dr. Robert Chase is the public historian at the Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture at the College of Charleston.   Dr. Chase specializes in public history, oral history, civil rights and social justice movements, and African American history.   Born in New York City and raised in Washington, DC, Dr. Chase received his MA in history from George Mason University and his PhD in history at the University of Maryland, College Park.  He is the recipient of the University of Maryland’s E.B. and Jean Smith prize for best dissertation in political history.  Previously, Dr. Chase has held postdoctoral fellowships with Southern Methodist University, Case Western Reserve University, and Rutgers University.  His forthcoming manuscript, Civil Rights on the Cell Block: The Prisoners’ Rights Movement and the Construction of the Carceral State, 1945-1990, explores the roots of twentieth century prison growth, inmate society and the coercive relationship between keeper and kept, and the legal struggle between inmates and the state over race, prisoners’ rights, and questions of citizenship.

He is working on inventorying the oral histories that we have in our collection and developing new oral history projects.

More information about him can be found

  1. http://sas.rutgers.edu/news-a-events/feature-archive/1084-post-doctoral-and-new-faculty-fellows-enrich-research-and-teaching 

So when you see him around, say hello!


Welcome to the new blog of the Avery Research Center Archives.

In 2008, the Council for Library and Information Resources (CLIR) awarded the Avery Research Center the prestigious “Cataloging Hidden Special Collections and Archives” grant.  This Hidden Collection grant affirms the national importance of Avery’s collections, which center on African American culture in coastal South Carolina.  Among Avery’s riches, we will be processing the Holloway family scrapbook; papers and oral histories of Civil Rights leaders; materials related to the experiences of African American women and sweetgrass basketmakers; and the notes, recordings, artifacts, and files of renowned anthropologists Joseph Towles and Colin Turnbull.

The work began in 2009, with a CLIR team of Project Manager, Project Archivist, Project Registrar, and three project assistants hired to increase intellectual and physical control of materials and to enhance access to documents, photographs, sound files, and three-dimensional objects.  Our team arranges and describes archival materials to national standards and produces finding aids that are publicly available online.  We are leveraging this  incredible opportunity to digitize oral histories and have undertaken a potentially groundbreaking initiative to provide digital access to the artifact collection.  Through this grant, Avery is able to effectively participate in the Lowcountry Digital Library and is now taking a leadership role in metadata standards.

The CLIR team and Avery staff hope to share our excitement over the treasures found within these red brick walls.  Through our actions and these posts, we aspire to innovate, liberate, and communicate.

We do hope you will join the discussion by commenting or providing additional information on the posted items or topics.

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