Burke High School has served students in downtown Charleston, South Carolina for over a century. From its roots as a segregated school for African Americans in the late nineteenth century, to emerging as an institution that fostered significant student activism during the twentieth century civil rights movement, Burke's history provides insights into the achievements and challenges of public education in Charleston. Published July 2013.
This online tribute documents local, statewide, and national responses to the tragic mass shooting that took place at the Emanuel AME Church, also known as Mother Emanuel, in Charleston, South Carolina, on June 17, 2015. Through photographs from a range of sources, this visual account reveals an overwhelming outpouring of emotion and grief for the victims, survivors, and their families, as well as powerful efforts in the weeks and months following the shooting to address racial injustice and violence. Published May 2016.
This online exhibition examines the beginnings of Iberian expansion into the Americas in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, when political and religious leaders in Spain, Portugal, and colonial Spanish America established arguments supporting the use of enslaved Africans—and limiting other forms of coerced labor—in ways that would greatly influence the development of slavery in the Atlantic World. Published February 2014. Updated 2016.
An online exhibition series about the history of slavery, plantations, and the trans-Atlantic slave trade from the Atlantic World to Charleston and the South Carolina Lowcountry. Exhibitions include: Atlantic World Context and Establishing Slavery in the Carolina Lowcountry. Published 2013.
After Slavery: Educator Resources links to exhibition units within the After Slavery online exhibition. The primary source document transcriptions featured here include excerpts from diaries and letters, government reports, memoirs, handbills, court transcripts, census materials, and newspaper accounts. Each educational document provides insight into different issues and events from the post-Emancipation period in the Carolinas. We encourage educators to employ these resources and the accompanying questions featured with each document in their classroom instruction, to help students engage this complex history through archival materials.These resources are adaptable to a variety of classroom settings. Acurriculum guideis also available for South Carolina Social Studies Academic Standards. Launched in 2006 with startup funding from the (UK) Arts & Humanities Research Council, After Slavery has been hosted by the Lowcountry Digital Library (LCDL), and the Program in the Carolina Lowcountry and Atlantic World (CLAW) at the College of Charleston since 2010. In 2013-2014, After Slaverywas redesigned and published in the Lowcountry Digital History Initiative (LDHI).
This online exhibition and educator resource series focuses on the complex history of emancipation and the period of Reconstruction that followed the American Civil War. After Slavery showcases a rich collection of source materials organized for high school and college/university classroom use. Originally published 2006, redesigned for LDHI in 2013-2014. Updated 2016.
2015 marked the 150th anniversary of the founding of the Avery Normal Institute and the 30th anniversary of the establishment of the Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture at the College of Charleston.This online exhibition explores over one hundred and fifty years of Avery history—from its origins as a school for Black Charlestonians starting in 1865, to its current form as a center for promoting the history and culture of the African diaspora with an emphasis on Charleston and the South Carolina Lowcountry. Published May 2016.
In October 1945, unionized workers at the American Tobacco Company Cigar Factory in Charleston, South Carolina, launched a strike that lasted five months. This online exhibition provides an overview of the Charleston strike as adistinctive moment in South Carolina history when grassroots alliances led to massive protests and social justice advocacy. Published May 2014.
This exhibition traces the history of the cotton factory in Charleston, South Carolina, from 1880 to 1900, and examines how mill workers—black and white, male and female—struggled for better working conditions in the contentious political, social, and economic contexts of the late nineteenth century. Published December 2015.
Since emancipation, Black residents of the Lowcountry have fought to obtain full access to educational opportunities. This exhibit shares the history of local Black organizers' and national organizations' legal battle to successfully gain access to the College of Charleston in the mid-twentieth century, both as students and faculty. It also illuminates African Americans' presence on the College of Charleston's campus from its founding to the present. Published July 2023
The slave ships docking in early colonial America carried enslaved people from a variety of religious and cultural backgrounds, including West African Muslims. Though the historical record is scantly populated with their history, it reveals that the West African Muslims brought to America carried their Islamic faith and cultural practices with them. This exhibit examines their background before being forced to the Americas, and it explores the lives of individual Muslims who lived in the American South and the Lowcountry. Published October 2018.
In 1951, South Carolina politicians knew that their racially segregated public school system did not meet the constitutional standard of “separate but equal.” Facing a lawsuit, South Carolina passed its first sales tax to fund new school buildings for Black children, which became known as "equalization schools." The state's goal was to preserve racial segregation in schools. However, like one-room schoolhouses and Rosenwald schools of the early twentieth century, equalization schools were notable spaces of Black culture and community, making the buildings contradictory symbols that represent both racism in the United States and the strength of Black communities. The story of equalization schools is a critical, though lesser-known, part of South Carolina history. This exhibit explores South Carolina's equalization school history and includes an interactive map that documents the state's equalization school buildings. Published April 2022.
The small southern city of Charleston, South Carolina may not be the place that comes to mind when thinking of American cities with a notable Jewish history. However, Jews have chosen Charleston as a place to make their home since the 1690s. Charleston is home to one of the oldest Jewish congregations in the United States and, into the early 1800’s, was home to the largest Jewish community in the United States. This exhibit captures the history of Judaism from early American through World War I, a particularly vibrant and tumultuous era of Charleston’s history. By exploring the experiences of Jewish communities in their synagogues, their homes, and the public square, it offers a more complete view of the historical religious landscape in Charleston. Published November 2022.
Forgotten Fields documents the agricultural, economic, and social development of inland rice plantations in the South Carolina Lowcountry, from the inception of this agricultural system at the turn of the eighteenth century to the decline of inland rice in the mid-nineteenth century. Published February 2014.
This exhibit explores the history of Black women in the American South from the Antebellum era to the Reconstruction era. Focusing on the experiences of enslaved women in the South Carolina and Georgia Lowcountry in both rural and urban contexts, the exhibit examines African American women’s labor, interconnected relationships, and cultural practices. It reveals the types of violence they were subjected to as well as the joys and triumphs they created for themselves. By exploring the history of slavery through the lens of gender, Hidden Voices illuminates African American women’s specific experiences and contributions. Published December 2020.
Keeper of the Gate outlines the history and work of Philip Simmons (1912-2009), a master blacksmith from Charleston, South Carolina. This online exhibition draws from materials and essays originally featured in a traveling exhibition produced by the Philip Simmons Foundation, Inc. Published May 2014.
Las Voces del Lowcountry documents the varied experiences of Latinos in the South Carolina Lowcountry. This exhibition spotlights their struggles as well as their growing public presence and multifaceted contributions to the region's cultural and economic life. Through interviews, photographs, and artistic images, Las Voces del Lowcountry captures a critical moment in the historic evolution of the Latino presence in the Charleston area. Published November 2017. Las Voces del Lowcountry documenta la diversidad de experiencias de los latinos del Lowcountry en Carolina del Sur. Esta exhibición presenta narrativas de dolor y lucha como así también otras historias que manifiestan una creciente presencia pública y multifacéticas contribuciones a la vida cultural y económica de la región. A través de entrevistas, fotografías e imágenes artísticas, Las Voces del Lowcountry captura un momento crítico en la evolución histórica de la presencia latina en el área de Charleston. Publicado en noviembre de 2017.
This exhibition explores connections between the U.S. South and Great Britain during the American Civil War, particularly through trading activities led by a group of influential businessmen who lived in Liverpool's Abercromby Square. Despite widespread popular opinion against slavery by the mid-eighteenth century in Great Britain, the fortunes of this elite neighborhood were still intricately tied to the fate of the Confederacy. Published December 2015.
Explore Charleston history through the lens of the Morris Street Business District. Established just before the Civil War, the neighborhoods around the Morris Street Business District were home to free and enslaved Black people as well as multiple waves of immigrants from Europe and Asia. From 1850 to the present, this exhibit illuminates the complex history of this often-overlooked yet essential part of the city, as it maps over one hundred years of the district's history, building by building, for your exploration. Published April 2021.
In the spring of 1865, Nat Fuller, a newly free African American cook, hosted what one observer described as a “miscegenation dinner” at his restaurant in Charleston, South Carolina. For both black and white guests, his feast celebrated Emancipation and the end of the U.S. Civil War. This exhibition explores Nat Fuller’s work and legacy as an enslaved cook, caterer, and restaurateur, and provides insight into the culinary history of antebellum Charleston. Published April 2015.
Remembering Individuals, Remembering Communities interprets and maps the life and work of Septima Poinsette Clark (1898-1987), to provide insights into her experiences as an African American civil rights educator, activist, and native of Charleston, South Carolina. Highlighting this history not only reveals the significance of the black freedom struggle in Charleston, it also challenges ongoing race, class, and gender divisions throughout the city’s public history landscape. Published February 2017.
Revisiting Prop Master recreates and further exploresthe themes in the 2009 physical exhibition, Prop Master, an art installation by Susan Harbage Page and Juan Logan at the Gibbes Museum of Art in Charleston, South Carolina. This digital exhibit serves as a catalog of Prop Master'sexploration of the South Carolina Lowcountry’s history of black/white and gender/sexual interconnectedness. In addition to serving as a catalog,Revisiting Prop Mastershares interviews with the artists and discusses the history that underpins the art withinProp Master. Published on the 10th anniversary ofProp Master, this new exhibition carries on the important conversations that Logan and Page's artwork unveiled. Published February 2019.
Samuel Williams was born into slavery in Charleston, South Carolina in 1852. In his later years, Williams penned his recollections about his life before and after slavery; but he published his memoir under a pseudonym, Sam Aleckson. Williams’s identity as the author was unknown outside of his family. The author's identity is published for the first time here! By weaving together his memoir and archival research, this exhibition traces Samuel Williams’s life from his childhood in Charleston, through Reconstruction and its aftermath, to his migration North in the late-nineteenth century. Published April 2018.
Somebody Had To Do It examines the history of school desegregation in South Carolina and the U.S. South. This online exhibition features oral histories with Black Americans who were the “first children” to integrate public schools in the mid-twentieth century. It also includes an essay by Somebody Had To Do It project director and “first child” Millicent E. Brown, historic context by Jon Hale and Clerc Cooper, and an interactive map and timeline. Published May 2015.
An online exhibition about the development and aftermath of the Charleston Hospital Workers' Strike that took place in Charleston, South Carolina, from March to July 1969. Published November 2013.
Between 1760 and 1765, merchant James Poyas maintained a daybook documenting his numerous business transactions in the growing colonial trade center of Charles Town, South Carolina. Poyas's account provides insights into developing commercial networks in Charles Town, the expanding South Carolina backcountry, and the British Atlantic World. Published June 2014.
On February 8, 1968, South Carolina Highway Patrolmen opened fire on African American college students protesting against ongoing segregation in Orangeburg, South Carolina. Three students were killed and twenty-eight wounded. This shooting was one of the most violent events in South Carolina's twentieth century civil rights history. Published May 2013.
This online exhibition presents biographies of three generations of Pollitzer family members in South Carolina. The Pollitzers came to the United States in 1848 as Jewish immigrants from Austria. Over the next century, Pollitzer family members pursued a variety of business, philanthropic, religious, educational, and political ventures within and beyond South Carolina. Their lives and work provide insight into the experiences of Jewish-European immigrants and their descendants in the U.S. South over the last two centuries. Published June 2013.
The Stono Preserve's Changing Landscape exhibition explores the archaeology and history of a single geographic space in the South Carolina Lowcountry—a nearly 1,000-acre plot of land twenty miles west of the Charleston peninsula. The site's archaeology uncovers the region's prehistoric, colonial, antebellum, and twentieth-century histories. To illuminate the experiences of the people who shaped the landscape, this exhibit traverses the topics of prehistory, religion, slavery, agriculture, and wealth. Placed together, they reflect the defining narratives of South Carolina Lowcountry history. Published January 2020.
This online exhibition examines the illegal trans-Atlantic slave trade through the voyage and capture of the slave ship Echo in 1858. The Echo voyage demonstrates how port cities such as New York City and New Orleans were strongly tied to the slave trade long after the U.S. Abolition Act of 1807. The subsequent Echo trials in South Carolina provide insight into debates about the future of U.S. slavery in the years preceding the American Civil War. Published May 2014.