Inventory of the Gadsden Funeral Home Records, 1892 - 2010

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Descriptive Summary

Abstract: The Gadsden Funeral Home was founded in 1902 as the Eugene Gadsden Company serving as one of the first funeral homes for African Americans in Charleston. The founder, Eugene Gadsden (1866-1928), was born in 1866 to July and Maud Gadsden and later married Angeline Gadsden. The union produced no biological children, however they adopted their only son Eugene Duncan (1905-1964) who would assume the family business upon his father’s death in 1928. Duncan, an alumnus of Voorhees Technical Institute and Renouard Training School for Embalmers, officially incorporated the business as the Gadsden Funeral Home in 1930 along with his wife Vivian Austin Duncan. The Gadsden Funeral Home was operated and passed down through the family for over a century until it closed in 2005.
The Gadsden Funeral Home Papers consist of three series documenting the history of the Gadsden/Duncan family, the Gadsden Funeral Home, and numerous affiliations. The bulk of the collection consists of records associated with the Gadsden Funeral Home, which detail the deceased, customers, funeral expenses, licenses and certificates. The collection is also comprised of detailed family history, organizational pamphlets and brochures, and a host of photographic material.
Title: Gadsden Funeral Home Records, 1892 - 2010
Call Number: AMN 1137
Repository: Avery Research Center
Dates: 1892-2006
Bulk: 1921-1986
Creator: Johnson, Eugenia, Mrs., 1931-
Language of Material: Material in English
Extent: 5.0 Linear feet
(3 records cartons boxes and two oversize material archival boxes)

Historical Note

The Gadsden Funeral Home was founded in 1902 as the Eugene Gadsden Company serving as one of the first funeral homes for African Americans in Charleston. The founder, Eugene Gadsden (1866-1928), was born to July and Maud Gadsden and later married Angeline Gadsden. The union produced no biological children, however they adopted their only son Eugene Duncan (1905-1964) who would assume the family business upon his father’s death in 1928. Duncan, an alumnus of Voorhees Technical Institute and Renouard Training School for Embalmers, officially incorporated the business as the Gadsden Funeral Home in 1930 along with his wife Vivian Austin Duncan. The Gadsden Funeral Home was operated and passed down through the family for over a century until it closed in 2005. The list of directors and their tenure with the Gadsden Funeral Home is as follows:

Eugene Gadsden, 1902-1928 Eugene Duncan, 1928-1969 Vivian Duncan, 1969-1979 Lewis Duncan, 1979-1990 Herman D. Singleton, II (director), 199-1993 Sam Halls, 1990-2001 Eugenia Ducan Johnson (sole owner), 1990-2005


Collection Overview

The Gadsden Funeral Home Papers consist of three series documenting the history of the Gadsden/Duncan family, the Gadsden Funeral Home, and numerous affiliations. The bulk of the collection consists of records associated with the Gadsden Funeral Home, which detail the deceased, customers, funeral expenses, licenses and certificates. The collection is also comprised of detailed family history, organizational pamphlets and brochures, and a host of photographic material.

Series 1. Family History (1902-2006, undated) contains three subseries detailing the biographical history, educational material, and photographs of the family. This series includes a comprehensive historical sketch of the family beginning with the patriarchs, Eugene Gadsden and his adopted son Eugene Duncan who respectively founded and established the Gadsden Funeral Home.

Series 2. Gadsden Funeral Home Material (1908-2003, undated) documents the business of the Eugene Gadsden Company, later to incorporated as the Gadsden Funeral Home. This section includes account books, bound and unbound ledgers detailing funeral and related expenses, and numerous certifications and licenses. The unbound ledgers are organized chronologically and separated by calendar year.

Series 3. Affiliations (1892-2010, undated) contain a variety of material related to businesses and organizations associated with members of the family. Among this material includes information regarding the black owned bank Peoples Federation Bank and the Reserve Fellowship Society.


Collection Arrangement

Series 1. Family History, 1902-2006, undated

Series 2. Gadsden Funeral Home Material, 1908-2003, undated

Series 3. Affiliations, 1892-2010, undated


Subject Headings

  • African American banks--South Carolina--Charleston.
  • African American businesspeople--South Carolina--Charleston.
  • African Americans--Education.
  • Burial records--South Carolina--Charleston.
  • Duncan, Eugene (1905-1964).
  • Eugene Gadsden Funeral Home (Charleston, S.C.).
  • Funeral homes--South Carolina--Charleston.
  • Funeral rites and ceremonies--South Carolina--Charleston.
  • Gadsden Family.
  • Gadsden, Eugene (1866-1928).
  • Johnson, Eugenia Duncan (1931-).
  • Undertakers and undertaking--United States.
  • Voorhees College -- Students.


Detailed Description of the Collection

1. Family Papers, 1902-2006, undated.

This series contains three subseries detailing the biographical history, educational material, and photographs of the family. This series includes a comprehensive historical sketch of the family beginning with the patriarchs, Eugene Gadsden and his adopted son Eugene Duncan who respectively founded and established the Gadsden Funeral Home.

1.1 Family History, 1969-2006, undated.

Box 1   Folder 1
Biographical Info: Eugene Gadsden, Eugene Duncan, and Vivian Duncan, circa 2002
Biographical sketches and photocopied pictures of Eugene Gadsden, Eugene Duncan and his wife Vivian Duncan.
Box 1   Folder 2
Biographical Info: Eugenia Duncan Johnson, Roosevelt Johnson, and Lewis Duncan, circa 2002
Biographical sketches and photocopied pictures of Eugene Duncan Johnson, her husband Roosevelt Johnson, and brother Lewis Duncan.
Box 1   Folder 3
Biographical Info: Paul Green, James Seay, and Ernest DeLyons, circa 2002
Biographical sketches and photocopied pictures of Paul Green, James Seay and Ernest DeLyons.
Box 1   Folder 4
Obituaries, 1969-2006
Box 1   Folder 5
Newspaper Articles, 1984-2001

1.2 School Related Material, 1921-1986, undated.

Box 1   Folder 6
Avery Institute Certificate, circa 1948
Merit Award for Clarence Duncan in football from Avery High School
Box 1   Folder 7
Burke Industrial School Material, circa 1921, undated
Newspaper clipping of Burke Program (Vivian Austin on roll of Teachers' Normal Class) and Burke Industrial School Report Card for Vivian Austin
Box 1   Folder 8
Gupton College of Funeral Services Diploma (Photocopy), circa 1986
Photocopied diploma from Gupton-Jones College of Funeral Services for Herman D. Singleton, II
Box 1   Folder 9
Voorhees Institute Officers' Corp: Announcement and Invitation, circa 1926
Promotion card of Eugene Duncan to Second Lieutenant of Voorhees Officers Battalion and Officers' Annual Hop (E.C. Duncan, Band Sgt.) invitation
Box 1   Folder 10
Voorhees Institute Related Letters, 1926-1927
Incoming letter to Eugene Duncan from Mr. M. Washington regarding summer vacation and three copies of a letter written by principal of Voorhees Institute used as scrap paper for lyrics to 9 spirituals
Box 1   Folder 11
The Spirit of Voorhees Newspaper, 1927-1928
The Spirit of Voorhees Vol. I No. IV; The Spirit of Voorhees Vol. I No II: Christmas Number circa 1927
Box 1   Folder 12
Voorhees Certificate and Commencement Program, 1927-1929
Commencement Exercises of Voorhees Industrial School May 22-25, 1927 and Athletic Certificate from Voorhees for Eugene Duncan
Box 5   Folder 1
Voorhees Diploma and Trade Certificate, 1928
Voorhees Industrial Institute Trade Certificate and Diploma for Eugene Duncan
Box 5   Folder 2
Renouard Training School For Embalmers Class Photo, 1929
Photograph of Renouard Training School For Embalmers 1929 Class

1.3 Visual Material, 1902, undated.

Box 1   Folder 13
Photographic Material, undated
Identified and unidentified photographs of the family
Box 5   Folder 3
Photographic Material, 1902, undated
Identified and unidentified photographs of the family including Eugene Gadsden in 1902

2. Gadsden Funeral Home, 1906-2005, undated.

This series document the business of the Eugene Gadsden Company, later to incorporated as the Gadsden Funeral Home. This section includes account books, bound and unbound ledgers detailing funeral and related expenses, and numerous certifications and licenses. The unbound ledgers are organized chronologically and separated by calendar year.
Box 1   Folder 14
Gadsden Funeral Home and Historical Sketch, circa 2002
Historical sketch of Gadsden Funeral Home written with photocopied photos in 2002 for 100th Anniversary
Box 1   Folder 15
Hurricane Hugo and Floyd Photographic Material (photocopies), 1989-1999
Box 1   Folder 16
Gadsden Funeral Home Fire Articles and Photos (photocopies), 1981
Box 1   Folder 17
SC State Board of Funeral Service Licenses, 1955-2005
Box 5   Folder 4
State of SC Embalming license for Mr. Eugene C. Duncan, 1932
Box 1   Folder 18
Eugene Gadsden Company SC State Business Charters, 1926-1930
Researchers use photocopies
Box 1   Folder 19
General Material, 1913-2005, undated
Historical sketch of African American Funeral Homes, letterhead of Gadsden Funeral Home, Post and Courier article on closing of Gadsden Funeral Home, photocopied bond and mortgage receipt, and blank Gadsden ledger sheets
Box 2   Folder 1
Eugene Gadsden Company Ledger, 1906-1916
Researchers use photocopied pages
Box 2   Folder 2
Eugene Gadsden Company Ledger, 1912-1935
Box 4   Folder 1
Eugene Gadsden Company Invoice Book, 1915-1927
Box 2   Folder 3
Eugene Gadsden Company Ledger, 1919-1934
Box 2   Folder 4
Eugene Gadsden Company Funeral Record, 1920-1923
Box 2   Folder 5
Eugene Gadsden Company Funeral Record, 1923-1924
Box 4   Folder 2
Eugene Gadsden Company Ledger, 1925-1929
Box 2   Folder 6
Gadsden Funeral Home Service Record, 1937-1941
Box 4   Folder 3
Gadsden Funeral Home Ledger, 1938-1950
Box 3   Folder 1
Eugene Gadsden Company Funeral Records, circa 1930
Box 3   Folder 2
Eugene Gadsden Company Funeral Records, circa 1931
Box 3   Folder 3
Eugene Gadsden Company Funeral Records, circa 1932
Box 3   Folder 4
Eugene Gadsden Company Funeral Records, circa 1933
Box 3   Folder 5
Eugene Gadsden Company Funeral Records, circa 1934
Box 3   Folder 6
Eugene Gadsden Company Funeral Records, circa 1935
Box 3   Folder 7
Eugene Gadsden Company Funeral Records, circa 1936
Box 3   Folder 8
Eugene Gadsden Company Funeral Records, circa 1937
Box 3   Folder 9
Eugene Gadsden Company Funeral Records, circa 1938

3. Affiliations, 1892-2010, undated.

This series consist of a variety of material related to businesses and organizations associated with members of the family. Among this material includes information regarding the black owned bank Peoples Federation Bank and the Reserve Fellowship Society.
Box 1   Folder 20
Peoples Federation Bank Material, 2003-2010, undated
Historical sketch of the Peoples Federation Bank, photocopies of Vivian Alston bank shares, and news articles on former building
Box 1   Folder 21
Reserve Fellowship Association Material, circa 2006
Photocopied resolutions/photo of Reserve Fellowship Association from 1892
Box 5   Folder 5
Reserve Fellowship Association Photographic Material, circa 1892
Box 1   Folder 22
Royal Sons of Isaac and Daughters of Rebekah Certificate, circa 1928
Photo copy of Eugene Duncan membership certificate into Royal Sons of Isaac and Daughters of Rebekah of the United States
Box 1   Folder 23
Mortuary Organizations, 1928-2006, undated
South Carolina Morticians Associations, Inc. "Historical Archives: The Last Century of the Millennium", historical list of state officers, and Colored Funeral Directors' and Embalmers' Association of South Carolina Convention program
Box 1   Folder 24
Jenkins Orphanage Material, 1905-1963
Photocopied pamphlet of Jenkins Orphanage from 1905 and 1963 72nd Anniversary program
Box 1   Folder 25
Progressive Spiritualist Church Anniversary Program, circa 1953
Progressive Spiritualist Church 10 year anniversary program (Vivian Duncan Remarks)
Box 1   Folder 26
Newspaper Articles, 1964, undated
Advertisement for Sunset Memorial Gardens and 1964 News and Courier article on Morris Street Baptist Church fire


Administrative Information

Access Restrictions

Some bound ledgers require use of copies made for researchers.

Copyright Notice

The nature of the Avery Research Center's archival holdings means that copyright or other information about restrictions may be difficult or even impossible to determine despite reasonable efforts. The Avery Research Center claims only physical ownership of most archival materials.

The materials from our collections are made available for use in research, teaching, and private study, pursuant to U.S. copyright law. The user must assume full responsibility for any use of the materials, including but not limited to, infringement of copyright and publication rights of reproduced materials. Any materials used for academic research or otherwise should be fully credited with the source.

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item],Gadsden Funeral Home Records, Avery Research Center, College of Charleston, Charleston, SC,USA.

Processing Information

Processed by Daron Lee Calhoun II, September 2014

Edited by Aaron Spelbring, November 2014

Encoded by Aaron Spelbring, November 2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

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