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The Philip Simmons Collection in the Lowcountry Digital Library

Posted by: wrightd | September 19, 2014 Comments Off |

Blog post by new Avery Research Center Graduate Assistant Kelly Doyle

My name is Kelly Doyle and I am one of three Graduate Assistants that will be working with the Avery Research Center this year. I have had a wonderful first few weeks and I look forward to my time here!

phillip_simmonsWhen I started working at the Avery Research Center, I was almost immediately struck by the Philip Simmons collection, which was donated to the Center by the Philip Simmons Foundation, Inc. Simmons was an African-American artisan and blacksmith who specialized in the craft of ironwork in Charleston, South Carolina. As a fellow craft artisan in the      Lowcountry, I felt a strong connection with this collection of Simmons’ personal sketches and artwork.

A deeper look at the newly digitized Philip Simmons collection in the Lowcountry Digital Library reveals Simmons’ impact on artisan and folk art in the Lowcountry region and beyond. The artwork Simmons created throughout his expansive career is displayed worldwide, and now a large collection of his sketches and conceptual drawings are also available to his many fans internationally through the Avery Research Center Collection in the Lowcountry Digital Library. These personal sketches offer insight into Simmons’ unique ability to create pieces of art that are both visually stunning and practical objects for daily use.

This collection is especially interesting within the Charleston landscape because so many of Simmons’ pieces are on display in accessible locations throughout the city. Simmons’ work has greatly impacted Charleston, and viewing these preliminary sketches in conjunction with his finished pieces brings greater perspective to his artistic vision.

The Philip Simmons Collection in the Lowcountry Digital Library http://lcdl.library.cofc.edu/content/philip-simmons-collection
Funding from the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelly Foundation supported the collection processing, encoding, and
digitization of this collection.

Online exhibition: Keeper of the Gate: Philip Simmons Ironwork in Charleston, South Carolina, Philip Simmons Foundation, Inc., Lowcountry Digital History Initiative

Visit the Philip Simmons House Museum at 30 ½ Blake Street, Charleston, South Carolina

If you are interested in viewing Simmons’ work in Charleston, see the link below for an interactive map connected to an online exhibition about his work in the downtown area.


under: Announcements

Cleveland Sellers: The SNCC Years-Coming Through The Fire

Posted by: wrightd | September 18, 2014 Comments Off |

sellers16x20bOriginally curated in 2009 as part of the Avery Research Center’s traveling exhibition program,  the exhibition, “Cleveland Sellers: The SNCC Years-Coming Through The Fire” will reopen in 2014 in observance of the 50th anniversary of the 1964 Freedom Summer. Dr. Cleveland L. Sellers was born in Denmark, South Carolina and attended Howard University. While at Howard, Sellers became a member of the Nonviolent Action Group (NAG), an affiliate of SNCC (Student Nonviolence Coordinating Committee). In 1964, Sellers joined SNCC’s Mississippi Summer Project (also known as Freedom Summer) to organize African-American voter registration in Mississippi. Three civil rights activists, James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Mickey Schwerner were infamously murdered while working on this project. SNCC members eventually elected Sellers to be their Program Secretary in 1965. Today, Dr. Sellers is the president of Voorhees University in Denmark, South Carolina. This exhibition draws from the Cleveland Sellers archival collection at the Avery Research Center and features letters, newspapers, magazines, photographs, music, broadsides, and ephemera that document the Freedom Summer project. Cox Gallery. Opens Thursday, September 18, 2014 – January 21, 2015.

under: Announcements

The Avery Brown Bag Series

Posted by: battlemp | February 20, 2014 Comments Off |
Brown Bag presentation by Daron Calhoun II, “Politics of Philanthropy: Henry Lyman Morehouse, the American Baptist Home Mission Society and the Naming of Morehouse College,” Avery Research Center, 22 January 2014. Calhoun is an Avery graduate assistant and graduate student in the joint College of Charleston-Citadel M.A. History program.

Brown Bag presentation by Daron Calhoun II, “Politics of Philanthropy: Henry Lyman Morehouse, the American Baptist Home Mission Society and the Naming of Morehouse College,” Avery Research Center, 22 January 2014. Calhoun is an Avery graduate assistant and graduate student in the joint College of Charleston-Citadel M.A. History program.

Since September 2013, the Avery Research Center has been proud to host an ongoing monthly Brown Bag Presentation Series. For those not familiar with the format, the idea is to bring your own “brown bag” lunch and enjoy presentations relevant to African American history and culture from local and visiting scholars, artists, and community leaders. The presentation style is often informal, and includes lively discussions with the presenters. Highlights so far have included Dr. Patricia Lessane and Dr. Conseula Francis discussing the 2013 Avery conference Unleashing the Black Erotic: Gender and Sexuality—Passion, Power, and Praxis;  “Black Studies Beyond Ethnography” by Dr. Sabine Broeck; “The Ethics of Conducting Oral Histories” by Eileen Callahan; and “Researching Slavery at the University of South Carolina and Presenting it to the Public: Building the ‘Slavery at South Carolina College’ Website” by Dr. Robert Weyeneth, Evan Kutzler, and Amanda Noll from the University of South Carolina. Most recently, one of our very own Avery graduate assistants—Daron Calhoun—gave a presentation on his M.A. thesis research, entitled “Politics of Philanthropy: Henry Lyman Morehouse, the American Baptist Home Mission Society and the Naming of Morehouse College.” His work examines the paternalistic leadership of northern missionary organizations who came to the U.S. South to develop African American schools in the decades after Emancipation, and this presentation specifically considered the early development of Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia, and the decision to change the school’s name from Atlanta Baptist College to Morehouse College in 1913. In our next Avery Brown Bag presentation, entitled “The Art of Protest,” local artist Karole Turner Campbell will describe a series of paintings she is developing that are inspired by the tragic Trayvon Martin shooting and the trial of George Zimmerman that took place in June and July 2013. This presentation will be held on February 26th, the anniversary of Martin’s death, from 12-1:15 pm in the McKinley Washington Auditorium.

To learn about upcoming Brown Bag presentations and other public events held at Avery, please see our Winter/Spring Programs calendar at: http://avery.cofc.edu/programs/

If you have questions about the Avery Brown Bag Series, or would like to organize a presentation, please contact Mary Battle at [email protected]

under: Announcements, Events

Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture
Inaugural Undergraduate Essay Contest – Spring 2013

The Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture is now accepting essays for its 2013 Undergraduate Essay Contest.  The essay, no less than five (5) pages and no more than seven (7) pages, must focus on any of the processed collections at the Avery Research Center, such as (but not limited to) Avery Research Center Oral History Collection; the Septima P. Clark Collection; or the Cleveland L. Sellers, Jr. Papers.  Students may contact Avery Research Center staff for suggestions on other collections to research.  Essays are due by 11:59 p.m. on March 8, 2013. All essays will be judged on a fifty (50) point scale and winners will be announced on April 5, 2013. Winners will be invited to a luncheon where they will discuss their research and receive their reward. All recipients will be featured in the spring edition of the Avery Messenger.


  • First Place:  $200
  • Second Place:  $100
  • Third Place:  $50


  • Must pertain to Avery Research Center processed collections
  • Must be between five (5) and seven (7) pages and typed, double spaced, with one-inch margins in MS Word
  • Must conform to the Chicago/Turabian formatting style for scholarly papers
  • Papers must be submitted by March 8, 2013 by 11:59 p.m. to Processing Archivist, Georgette Mayo ([email protected])

Please include the following information on your COVER SHEET ONLY:

  • Name
  • Class (Freshman, Sophomore, Junior, Senior)
  • Mailing Address
  • Telephone Number
  • Email Address
  • Faculty Advisor

DO NOT include the above information on any subsequent pages of the essay.

Judging will be based on the following criteria:

  • Overall Impression (0–10)
  • Historical Accuracy (0–10)
  • Clarity of Argument (0–10)
  • Quality of Scholarship/Use of Collections (0–10)
  • Quality of Writing (0–10)

Contact Avery Research

Phone: 843-953-7609

   D.L. Calhoun II                                            Georgette Mayo                                             Ardra Whitney

Graduate Assistant                                      Processing Archivist                                            IMLS Fellow

[email protected]                                   [email protected]                                    [email protected]

under: Announcements

On Friday, September 28th, 2012, academic and state government administrator the Honorable Lucille Whipper returned to Springfield Elementary School; uniting with hundreds of African American leaders in seventy seven cities and thirty five states across the nation for the 3rd Annual Back to School With The HistoryMakers program.  The Honorable Whipper was the first African American administrator at the College of Charleston, serving as Assistant to the President and Director of the Office of Human Relations. While at the college, she developed its first affirmative action plan and recruited other faculty, community members and alumni of Avery Normal Institute, to organize and establish the Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture.

This year the Honorable Whipper was joined by another special guest speaker, Dr. J Herman Blake, former President of Tougaloo College and current inaugural Humanities Scholar in Residence at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC). The two drew from their own personal school experiences and the struggles they encountered on their paths to success in order to encourage students to commit to excellence in education. The Honorable Whipper and Dr. Blake were introduced by representatives from Springfield Elementary Student Government Association and spoke to approximately one hundred fourth and fifth-grade students. Parents and teachers were also in the audience, as well as Springfield Elementary Principal, Blondell B. Adams.

The Honorable Whipper talked about becoming a state representative; noting that she and her son were the first to hold office in the state legislature in tandem. She also showed a photo of the South Carolina legislature in session. Dr. Blake discussed his mentor, educator and civil rights activist, Septima P. Clark. Clark taught at the Avery Normal Institute and worked with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) to petition for black principals in Charleston’s public schools. She also developed literacy and citizenship workshops, which played an important part in the drive for African Americans’ voting and civil rights. In addition, Dr. Blake spoke about how the accomplishments of scientist and inventor, George Washington Carver were an inspiration to him. His discussion included a slide show with photos of both Carver and Clark.

From left to right: Aaron Spelbring, Principal Blondell B. Adams, the Honorable Lucille Whipper and Dr. J. Herman Blake with Springfield Elementary’s Student Government Association representatives

The Back to School program also provided an opportunity to promote the archival profession to students. In his introduction of the program’s student speakers, Manager of Archival Services, Aaron Spelbring defined what an archive is; explained the primary duties of an archivist; and discussed why documenting and preserving history are important. 

As part of the program, The HistoryMakers gifted Springfield Elementary with a free one-year subscription to its online digital archive. The HistoryMakers Founder and Executive Director, Julieanna Richardson, wants to encourage “educators everywhere to use The HistoryMakers digital archive to enrich their students’ exposure to the contributions of African Americans across the globe.”

The HistoryMakers is the nation’s largest black video oral history archive, dedicated to preserving the personal accounts of blacks who left their mark on business, education, politics, entertainment, sports and other industries. Scott is one of more than 2,000 people interviewed by the nonprofit for its archive. The Honorable Whipper was interviewed by The HistoryMakers in February of 2007 and Dr. Blake was interviewed in January of 2007. To learn more about these two living leaders and view clips from their interviews, please visit The HistoryMakers website at www.thehistorymakers.com.

under: Announcements
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