Avery Celebrates 150th Anniversary

The Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture

The Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture

The Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture, a research affiliation of the College of Charleston, celebrated its 150th anniversary on Saturday, October 31st.

“To understand the Avery Research Center, it is important to consider its rich history. Founded in 1865 as the Avery Normal Institute, this community hub provided education and advocacy for the growing Charleston African American community and trained blacks for professional careers and leadership roles. Although the Institute closed its doors in 1954, it graduates preserved the legacy of their alma mater by establishing the Avery Institute of Afro-American History and Culture.

The modern rebirth of Avery began in 1985 with the establishment of the Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture at the College of Charleston. The newly christened center came to fruition through a memorandum of understanding between the former Avery Institute and
the College, with many of the charter members graduates of the original Avery Normal Institute.

For the last twenty-five years, the Avery Research Center has collected art and archival materials that document the history, traditions, and legacies of African Americans and their influence on American society and culture, as well as their place within the American narrative (source – http://avery.cofc.edu/about/history-of-avery/).”

To commemorate Avery’s anniversary, Ann Caldwell delivered a musical performance followed by remarks from: Dr. Patricia Lessane, Executive Director of the Avery Research Center; Dr. Bernard Powers, Professor in the Department of History at the College of Charleston; the Honorable Lucille Whipper, Avery Institute Alumna, former South Carolina State Representative, and former President of the Avery Institute Board.

LessanelucillewhipperPowersFor more information on the Avery Institute, please visit the following website:  http://avery.cofc.edu/

Wells Fargo Distinguished Public Lecture Series Event, Dr. Stephen Berry

Dr. Stephen Berry poses at the Wells Fargo Distinguished Public Lecture Series Event

Dr. Stephen Berry poses at the Wells Fargo Distinguished Public Lecture Series Event

The Carolina Lowcountry and Atlantic World Program, in collaboration with Wells Fargo, was pleased to host Dr. Stephen Berry on Thursday, October 8th. Dr. Berry is an Associate Professor of History at the Simmons College of Arts and Sciences. Dr. Berry presented research findings from his recent publication entitled, A Path in Might Waters: Shipboard Life and Atlantic Crossings to the New World. Using the 1735 James Oglethorpe Georgia-bound expedition as his narrative arc, Dr. Berry investigates the story of how people experienced their crossings to the New World in the eighteenth-century. Furthermore, his study includes analyses of gender, race, class, space, and disease. The event was well attended by nearly fifty faculty members and students.


For  more information on Dr. Stephen Berry’s publication, please visit the following website: http://yalepress.yale.edu/book.asp?isbn=9780300204230

The Requiem for Rice

Jonathan Greene and Edda L. Fields-Black answer questions filtered from the audience.

“A Dialogue in Charleston and a Watch Party in Pittsburgh: Rice in Gullah Geechee Culture and History”

     The Carolina Lowcountry and Atlantic World Program was pleased to host Jonathan Greene,  nationally acclaimed professional artist and founder of the Lowcountry Rice Culture Forum, and Edda L. Fields-Black, Associate Professor of early and pre-colonial African history at Carnegie Mellon University and both producer and librettist of the Requiem for Rice on Thursday, September 16th in the ​School of Sciences and Mathematics Auditorium. The distinguished speakers discussed the Requiem for Rice project and answered questions from an engaged, lively audience.

Audience members share their experience of being members of the Gullah Geecee  culture and society in present-day Charleston.

Audience members share their experience of being members of the Gullah Geecee culture and society in present-day Charleston.

The Requiem for Rice multi-media composition aims to serve as a tribute to those enslaved, exploited, and brutalized on Lowcountry South Carolina and George rice plantations who remain unburied, unmourned, and unmarked.

For more information of the Requiem for Rice project, please visit the following website: http://requiemforrice.com/

Lowcountry Rice Project Forum, Georgetown 2015

Image courtesy of the Lowcountry Rice Project. Found at http://www.lowcountryriceculture.org/Rice-Arts-Forum-2015.html.

Image courtesy of the Lowcountry Rice Project. Found at http://www.lowcountryriceculture.org/Rice-Arts-Forum-2015.html.

Forum explores arts, culture, and rice

Submitted by Dwight McInvaill, Georgetown County Library Director

From the 17th century to the 1920s, the cultivation of rice occurred in the South Carolina Lowcountry, a coastal region of marshes, estuaries, and rivers extending some forty miles inland.   Rice here influenced the arts and culture of the area firstly through the antebellum creation in the Palmetto State of vast commercial wealth based substantially on the knowledge and labors of enslaved African Americans.  Later, after the Civil War and up to the present, this agricultural legacy – due to the influences especially of an enduring and vibrant Gullah culture – has continued to stimulate creativity on local, regional, national, and global levels.

Thanks to the leadership of Gullah artist Jonathan Green, the Lowcountry Rice Culture Committee was formed, and it committed itself to asserting and exploring the importance of this key heritage.  In 2013, the first Lowcountry Rice Culture Forum was held at the College of Charleston.  From September 17-19, 2015, the next forum will occur at a variety of locations in Georgetown County thanks to the efforts of ten community partners and especially the Lowcountry Rice Culture Committee, the Athenaeum Press of Coastal Carolina University, and the Georgetown County Library.

Activities will include the free premiere of an original documentary – thanks to the support of the Humanities Council SC – exploring the creative forces behind nine local Gullah artists and cultural leaders.  In addition, partners’ support and private donations will help underwrite much more such as:

  • The performance at the Winyah Auditorium by the Columbia City Ballet of “Off the Wall and Onto the Stage: Dancing the Art of Jonathan Green,”
  • A free concert on the Kaminski House lawn by the 60-member Freedom Readers Children’s Choir,
  • A Gullah variety show by Ron and Natalie Daise entitled “God’s Trombones,”
  • An exhibition and brunch at the Georgetown County Museum featuring the work of Jonathan Green,
  • And a tour of Hobcaw Barony.

Panel discussions by nine scholars concerning the influences of rice culture on the visual arts of our state throughout the centuries will occur on Friday, September 18, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Waccamaw Neck Branch Library, 41 St. Paul Place, Pawleys Island.  While there will be a $20 fee for this all-day event, it is certainly worth the price of admission due to this roster:

  • Introduction by Jonathan Green and Dwight McInvaill: 10 to 10:30 a.m.
  • Visual arts before the Civil War: 10:30 to noon
  • Sara Arnold, Curator of Collections, Gibbes Museum of Art: “Painters and Patrons: Art in Pre-Civil War Charleston”
  • Daniel Ackermann, Associate Curator, The MESDA Collection: “New Stories from Familiar Objects:  Discovering the Hidden Legacy of African American Craftsmen in Antebellum Southern Decorative Arts”
  • Patricia Williams-Lessane, Executive Director, Avery Research Center: “Antebellum Art and Rice Culture:  Representations of Experiences of Enslaved African Americans who Cultivated Rice”
  • Visual arts from Reconstruction through Mid-20th Century: 1:30 to 3 p.m.
  • Dwight McInvaill – Director, Georgetown County Library: “The Artistic Fieldwork of Alice Ravenel Huger Smith:  Rice Plantation Sketchbooks and Photographs”
  • Laura Engel, Associate Professor, Duquesne University: “Amelia M. Watson’s Plantation Tourism:  Documenting Fanny Kemble’s Journal of a Residence on a Georgia Plantation (1863)”
  • Stephen Motte, Curator of Collections and Interpretation, Florence County Museum: Topic to be Announced
  • Contemporary visual arts: 3:30 to 5 p.m.
  • Jonathan Green, Gullah Artist: “Use of Contemporary Narrative Art Capturing the Lowcountry Rice Culture”
  • Victoria Smalls, Director of Development and Community Outreach, Penn Center: “Penn Center:  Promoting and Preserving Gullah Geechee Culture and Art”
  • Leslie King Hammond, Graduate Dean Emeritus, Maryland Institute of Art: “Re/FRACTURED MEMORIES:  Visualizing Rice Culture in South Carolina”


As inspired by Jonathan Green, “The Rice Culture Project is meant to be ‘indiscriminately inclusive,’ to provide a clear frame of reference and safe environment in which such discussions can occur without fear of backlash or misunderstanding. By fostering open and informed dialogue, and by exposing participants to the many aspects and interconnections of Lowcountry culture, we hope to confront differences of opinion directly, resolve conflict, stimulate the local economy, and find common ground on which whites, blacks, Native Americans, immigrants and others can express mutual respect, dampen false debates, and celebrate a common heritage.”

Further details concerning listings and ticket prices can be found on the Georgetown County Library website at http://georgetowncountylibrary.sc.gov/programs/Pages/RiceForum2015.aspx, and reservations can be made by telephoning Georgetown County Digital Librarian Julie Warren at 843-545-3316 or by emailing her at jwarren@gtcounty.org about the Lowcountry Rice Culture Forum 2015.

SAWH Triennial Conference at the College of Charleston, June 11-14, 2015

From Thursday, June 11th to Sunday, June 14th, 2015, the College of Charleston will host the Southern Association of Women Historians’ (SAWH) Tenth Southern Conference on Women’s History. This year’s theme is “Re-membering/Gendering: Women, Historical Tourism, and Public History.” The conference is co-sponsored by Clemson University, The Citadel: Military College of South Carolina, and the College of Charleston.

This four-day conference will bring scholars from across the US South and the nation to Charleston to present on a wide range of topics. SAWH President, Lorri Glover, notes, “the research on the conference program is innovative and interdisciplinary, offering fresh insight into virtually every dimension of southern and gender history. The professional panels are as rich, speaking to the teaching, research, and career needs of our members.” Glover adds, “We come to SAWH for the intellectual stimulation and professional networking.”

SAWH was founded in 1970 and its membership includes over seven hundred women and men from around the world. The organization has several purposes: to stimulate interest in the study of southern history and women’s history, to advance the status of women in the historical profession in the US South, to provide a forum for women historians to discuss issues of professional concern, and to publicize and promote issues of concern to SAWH members.

Through funding support from the Carolina Lowcountry and Atlantic World Program’s (CLAW) Wells Fargo Distinguished Public Lecture series, this year’s conference will feature three plenary sessions with distinguished scholars that are free and open to the public.


JUNE 11, 5:00 pm, Alumni House at The Citadel
Keynote Lecture: “The Limits of Commemoration: Civil Rights Memory and the Enduring Challenge of Innocence,” Renee Romano, PhD, Oberlin College
Overview: Recent decades have witnessed a flurry of commemorative activity about the black freedom struggle and the history of racial violence in the United States, from the building of museums and monuments to the marking of anniversaries and the celebration of holidays. At the same time, racial inequalities remain deep and pervasive, as does ra­cial violence in the form of police harassment and killing of people of color. In this keynote address, Renee Romano will bring togeth­er her work on historical memory and on civil rights-era violence to explore the relationship between commemoration and racial justice and to ask what role commemoration can play in helping achieve what James Baldwin described as one of the most powerful barriers to change: the willful ignorance of white Americans of the depth and extent of racism and racial violence in the nation’s history.


JUNE 12, 5:00 pm, Stern Center Ballroom at the College of Charleston

Plenary Lecture: “Making Public the Most Private: Children, Families, and Household as a Challenge to Historians,” Susan J. Pearson, PhD, Northwestern University; James D. Schmidt, PhD, Northern Illinois University; Marcia Chatelain, PhD, Georgetown University.

Overview: “Children, Families, Household as a Challenge to Historians” presents the experiences of historians uncovering the seemingly private spheres of home and family in various archives. By examining how the state and its institutions shape the inner lives of citizens, the panelists will engage the audience in strategies for uncovering these private stories.


JUNE 13, 5:00 pm, Stern Center Ballroom at the College of Charleston

Plenary Lecture: “Women, Historical Tourism, and Public History in the Lowcountry,” Katherine Mellen Charron, PhD, North Carolina State University; Leslie M. Harris, PhD, Emory University; Stephanie Yuhl, PhD, College of the Holy Cross.

Overview: In this plenary session, prominent scholars consider the role of gender, race, and class in representations of the Lowcountry region throughout a range of public history contexts. This discussion draws from each panelist’s research on Lowcountry history, from the colonial period to the twentieth century civil rights movement.


Registration to attend all panel sessions and presentations for the SAWH conference will be available onsite, at $100 for SAWH members, $150 for nonmembers, and $60 for graduate students. Please bring a check or exact change to the registration desk on the first floor of the Stern Center.

For a complete listing of SAWH 2015 Conference sessions and registration times, check out the program here. (http://thesawh.org/sawh-conferences/sawh-triennial-conference/)

For more information about SAWH, check out their website here. (http://thesawh.org/)

Questions? Contact Megan Taylor Shockley, mshockl@clemson.edu


Tomorrow, March 11, 2015: “The Religion and Politics of Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address”

The Bully Pulpit Series, the Carolina Lowcountry and Atlantic World Program, and the Friends of the Library present a commemorative lecture of Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address as a part of the Wells Fargo Distinguished Public Lecture Series. On March 11 2015, at 2 PM in room 202 of the College of Charleston’s Tate Center, Dr. Richard Carwardine, the president of Corpus Christi College, Oxford University, will give a lecture on the politics and religion of the famous 1865 address. Carwardine specializes in American politics and religion in the nineteenth century, and one of his many works is an analytical biography of Abraham Lincoln that won the Lincoln Prize in 2004 and was republished in the U.S. as Lincoln: A Life of Purpose and Power (2006). He will be introduced by CLAW Executive Director and Lincoln scholar Dr. O. Vernon Burton, Creativity Professor of Humanities, Professor of History and Computer Science at Clemson University, and the Director of the Clemson CyberInstitute. Burton is also a prolific writer, and his book The Age of Lincoln (2007) won the Chicago Tribune Heartland Literary Award for Nonfiction. All are invited to join us as we commemorate the 150th anniversary of Lincoln’s historic address.

Hines Prize-Winner Coming to the College of Charleston!

Dr. Tristan Stubbs, winner of the 2013 Hines Prize, will visit the College of Charleston at the end of October. While here he will lead a faculty seminar as well as a public presentation on plantation overseers. For more details on the October 30th presentation see the flyer below.


Stubbs Wells Fargo Lecture flyer

Graduate Historical Society, Evening Lecture: “From Graduate School to Public History and Federal Opportunities,” Dr. John Sprinkle, Bureau Historian for the National Park Service. Wednesday, March 26, 7:00pm, location TBA.

The Graduate Historical Society, the History Department and Graduate School at the College of Charleston, and the Carolina Lowcountry and Atlantic World program will be presenting an evening lecture by Dr. John Sprinkle on Wednesday, March 26. Dr. Sprinkle is the Bureau Historian for the National Park Service and author of Crafting Preservation Criteria: The National Register of Historic Places and American Historic Preservation. He will be speaking about careers in public history, employment opportunities for historians with the federal government, and how to prepare for post-graduate school positions related to history.

The joint MA program in History at the Citadel and the College of Charleston has continually worked to provide opportunities for young historians to develop skills that translate into employment beyond graduate school. Dr. Sprinkle’s academic background as a historian, which transitioned into public history work at the federal level, provides a unique perspective for graduate history students who want to branch out from post-grad careers in teaching or Ph.D. programs. In addition, his experience with grant writing, research, and doctoral work is invaluable for those students hoping to continue their graduate education and historical research. Building off the mission of CLAW to promote scholarship on the Lowcountry, and public understanding of this region and its place in a broader international context, the GHS intends for this lecture to inform graduate students about the opportunities of public history initiatives in Charleston and the surrounding areas, while also exploring ways in which MA graduates can contribute to this research and present information to the public. With the help of the Carolina Lowcountry and Atlantic World program, we hope that this lecture will further develop our established commitment to provide opportunities for post-MA students.

The Graduate Historical Society would like to thank Dr. John White and the CLAW program for their generous support for this event, as well as Dr. Amy McCandless, the Dean of the Graduate School, and Dr. Jason Coy, program director of Master of Arts in History, without whom this event would not be possible.

Upcoming CLAW/Avery Lecture: Nov. 15, 6:00 pm, “A Usable Past: Debating the Slave Rebellion of 1816 and the Politics of History in Barbados (An Anthropological Perspective),” Dr. Phil Scher, University of Oregon

Avery Research Center, McKinley Washington AuditoriumDirections to Avery: http://avery.cofc.edu/visit/mapsdirections/

Dr. Phil Scher presents his research on the politics of heritage and cultural identity in Barbados. In early March of the year 2000, a very public debate erupted across Barbados’ national newspapers regarding the identity of a designated Barbadian national hero: Bussa. The issue of who Bussa was, was embedded in a more controversial inquiry: Did Bussa play a significant leadership role in Barbados’ most important and signal slave uprising in 1816? What was and is at stake in such debates is, of course, much more than historical accuracy, however that might be interpreted. The debate in question represents only a part of a much larger field of historical production — the effects of which are felt broadly in a society whose feelings about history itself are notoriously complex. This talk is about not only the contestation of a particular historical narrative, but the effect such narratives have beyond the academy to the construction of a post-colonial nationalist mythos of origins with its attendant political priorities.

Emancipation Statue, known as the "Bussa" statue, erected in Barbados in 1985 near Bridgetown, 169 years after Bussa led a slave revolt in Barbados in 1816.

Emancipation Statue, known as the “Bussa” statue, erected in Barbados in 1985 near Bridgetown, 169 years after Bussa led a slave revolt in Barbados in 1816.