Tag Archives | Avery staff

Blog Updated

The new picture (of William Leroy Blake and members of the Jenkins Orphanage Band) and blog title (“Not Just in February”) of the Avery Research Center’s blog represents the fact that we at the Avery  Research Center promote and document African-American history all-year around. Our collections demonstrate that the African-American experience cannot be limited to just one month. The individuals and organizations within the repository signify the fact that our legacies need to be celebrated and remembered not only so we do not forget them, but also to empower and encourage us to continue onward.

The Jenkins Orphanage was created in 1891 by Rev. Daniel Jenkins because he saw that there was a need for one in the African-American community. The band was created by Jenkins to raise money for the land for the orphanage due to the lack of support from the city and limited public will. It was eventually built at 20 Magazine Street in Charleston, South Carolina. Jenkins sought instruments for them to play and hired P.M. “Hastie” Logan and Francis Eugene Mikell to tutor the children. It is reported that the uniforms worn by the youth were hammy-downs from the

Lonnie Hamilton. Obtained from http://www.charlestonjazz.net/hamilton-lonnie-iii/

Citadel. The band was composed of the children from the orphanage and they were given the opportunity to play around world such as at the London Expo and the St. Louis World Fair. The profits from the shows went to the upkeep of the orphanage.  Mo

Cat Anderson. Obtained from http://northbysouth.kenyon.edu/1998/music/cat/cat.htm

re about the Jenkins Orphanage can be found in John Chilton’s book A Jazz Nursery: The Story of the Jenkins’ Orphanage Bands. 

Some well-known band players are Lonnie Hamilton (we have his papers), Jabbo Smith (hear him play), Cat Anderson, and Freddie Green.

The band reflects the fact that Charleston, South Carolina played an important role in the creation of Jazz music as we know it today.

Additional Resources

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.

Archives

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!

Aaisha Haykal: An Introduction

The Avery Research Center is excited to welcome the newest member of our archives team, Aaisha Haykal!  Her profound interest in Avery’s materials and the archival profession in general have already brought a much-appreciated aura of inspiration and enthusiasm to our archives!

Aaisha Haykal

Photo by L. Barry Hetherington

 

Hello, my name is Aaisha Haykal, and I have been placed at the Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture for the next nine months as a part of an Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) grant initiative that aims to diversify the archival profession. While at Avery I will be processing archival collections and maintaining the Avery blog, as well as re-imagining and updating Avery’s social media presence. One of the goals that I hope to achieve during my time here is to make connections with local African American community organizations to talk with them about the importance of keeping records and possibly donating their records to an institution like Avery. If you know of any organization(s) that need(s) assistance in this area please contact me at haykalan at cofc dot com.

Below is an excerpt from my fellowship application about why I chose Avery and the value that both the collections and the institution has to the community.

I am interested in the Avery Research Center because of its emphasis on preserving the documents that detail the life and organizations of the Black Charleston community and beyond; one can obtain an authentic feel of this history in the city not just in the past, but also in its present state. Furthermore, the exhibits and lectures at the center note that the institution is actively connecting the past and the present, which I find necessary in order to maintain relevancy and to make an impact. From the center’s blog posts I can see that they have recognized the need to open the archive up to the public and I want to continue this endeavor by creating online exhibits and having lectures and workshops that would further increase access to the archival resources. Moreover, to continue the legacy of community advocacy of the center I would be an advocate for community members to preserve their own materials for their personal empowerment and history; the archive and the archivist would be seen as a resource and advisor in this process.

Thus, from this small part of my application one can see that I fully believe in the fact that communities have to be in control of telling their own stories and histories because otherwise what is remembered can be the product of other people’s imaginations. I will be expanding on what I mean about this in my upcoming blog posts, so if you are interested and want to learn more, please come back!

Hidden Collections No Longer Hidden!

In 2009, under Principal Investigator Harlan Greene, the Avery Research Center received a Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) Hidden Collections grant totaling over $200,000 to address the center’s backlog of unprocessed archival collections.  These funds provided staff, equipment, and other resources necessary to complete a variety of projects that have improved access to our diverse archival materials.

Mia Fischer transcribing and editing an oral history.

Mia Fischer transcribed and edited oral histories.

I am happy to report that this project came to its successful completion in June 2011!  Under the CLIR grant, the Archives team was able to process over 400 linear feet of archival material; photograph and digitize Avery’s material culture collection; and transcribe and convert to digital format 35 oral histories.  Collections processed and finding aids encoded with these funds include the papers of renowned anthropologists Joseph A. Towles and Colin Turnbull; local journalist Herb Frazier; civil rights activists James E. Campbell and Bill Saunders; former South Carolina Representative Herbert U. Fielding; psychologist and educator Frederica Daly; and renowned architect Herbert A. DeCosta, Jr.  These and the numerous other collections processed during the project are of considerable research value on both a local and national level.  A full listing of our published finding aids are available from Avery’s website, and the results of the material culture project may be found at the Lowcountry Digital Library’s website.

Melissa Bronheim processing architectural drawings from the H. A. DeCosta Papers.

Melissa Bronheim processed the H. A. DeCosta, Jr. Papers, which included a number of architectural drawings.

I had the fortunate opportunity of being a part of this project in various capacities from start to finish, but the work could not have been completed without our Assistant Archivists and previous Project Archivists, who deserve much more recognition than what I can provide in this blog!  Please join me in congratulating them and the Avery Research Center for the successful completion of a project of incredible scope and size.

Project Archivists:

Jessica Lancia

Amanda T. Ross

Project Assistant Archivists:

 Melissa Bronheim

Rachel Allen

Mia Fischer

Andrew Grimball

Joshua Minor

Project Registrar:

Susan Jacoby

Project Photographer:

Liz Vaughan

Project Cataloguer:

Anne Bennett

 

Thanks again to everyone who made this project possible!

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