The Avery Research Center is a major partner of the Lowcountry Digital History Initiative (LDHI), a digital public history project hosted by the Lowcountry Digital Library (LCDL) at the College of Charleston. Funded through a pilot project grant from the Humanities Council of South Carolina and a major grant award from the Dorothy and Gaylord Donnelley Foundation, LDHI serves as a digital consultation service, scholarly editorial resource, and online platform for partner institutions and collaborative scholars to translate multi-institutional archival materials, historic landscape features and structures, and scholarly research into digital public history exhibition projects. A major goal within LDHI’s mission is to encourage projects that highlight underrepresented race, class, gender, and labor histories within the Lowcountry region, and in historically interconnected Atlantic World sites. The following LDHI exhibitions emphasize African American history and culture in the Lowcountry and beyond, and many draw from Avery’s archival collections. This list will continue to grow as new LDHI online exhibitions are published in the future.
African Passages, Lowcountry Adaptations
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. Current exhibitions: Atlantic World Context and Establishing Slavery in the Carolina Lowcountry. Upcoming exhibition: Lowcountry Slavery: Daily Life and Revolutionary Change. Published 2013.
African Laborers for a New Empire: Iberia, Slavery, and the Atlantic World
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.
After Slavery: Race, Labor, and Politics in the Post-Emancipation Carolinas
After Slavery is an online exhibition and educator resource focused on the complex history of slave emancipation during the period of Reconstruction that followed the American Civil War. The goal of the project is to make a range of high-quality primary source materials accessible for exploring one of the most tumultuous and critically important periods in the history of the United States. Through a rich and comprehensive collection of source materials organized for high school and college/university classroom use, After Slavery provides insight into the ground-level tensions that shaped the struggle to define freedom for former slaves on a national level, and within the distinctive historic contexts of North and South Carolina. 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 2014, After Slavery was redesigned and published in the Lowcountry Digital History Initiative (LDHI).
Avery: The Spirit That Would Not Die, 1865-2015
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.
Charleston’s Cigar Factory Strike, 1945-1946
In October 1945, unionized workers at the American Tobacco Company Cigar Factory in Charleston, South Carolina, launched a strike that lasted five months. Charleston’s Cigar Factory strike reflected both local struggles and was part of a nationwide protest over low wages and poor working conditions in various American Tobacco Company factories. This online exhibition provides an overview of the Charleston strike as a distinctive moment in South Carolina history when grassroots alliances led to massive protests and social justice advocacy. Published May 2014.
Charleston’s Cotton Factory, 1880-1900
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.
The Charleston Hospital Workers Movement, 1968-1969
An online exhibition about the development and aftermath of the Charleston Hospital Workers’ Strike that took place in Charleston, South Carolina, from March to June 1969. Published November 2013.
Forgotten Fields: Inland Rice Plantations in the South Carolina Lowcountry
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.
A History of Burke High School in Charleston, South Carolina, since 1894
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 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.
The James Poyas Daybook: An Account of a Charles Town Merchant, 1760-1765
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. Through these connections, Poyas acquired enslaved Africans as well as consumer goods, and delivered to a diverse range of customers. This online exhibition traces the settlement of the Poyas family in South Carolina and the development of Poyas’s career, and more broadly examines the dynamic and influential role of Charles Town merchants in the colonial period. Published June 2014.
Keeper of the Gate: Philip Simmons Ironwork in Charleston, South Carolina
Keeper of the Gate outlines the history and work of Philip Simmons, a master blacksmith from Charleston, South Carolina. This online exhibition draws from materials and essays originally featured in Keeper of the Gate: Designs in Wrought Iron by Philip Simmons, Master Blacksmith, a traveling exhibition produced by the Philip Simmons Foundation, Inc. It also highlights archival materials from the Philip Simmons Collection at the Avery Research Center, digitized for the Lowcountry Digital Library through the support of the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation. In addition, this exhibition includes an interactive map, and a documentary entitled Philip Simmons Tribute 1912-2009, produced by Sunhead Projects, LLC. For questions about visiting the Philip Simmons Museum and Gift Shop in Charleston, or to reserve the original traveling exhibition featuring photography of Philip Simmons gates by Claire Y. Greene (1958-2006), please contact Rossie M. Colter at the Philip Simmons Foundation, Inc. Published May 2014.
Nat Fuller’s Feast: The Life and Legacy of an Enslaved Cook in Charleston
In April 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. Fuller’s dinner guests, both black and white, 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.
The Orangeburg Massacre
An online exhibition outlining the events of the Orangeburg Massacre. 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.
Somebody Had To Do It: First Children in School Desegregation
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.
A Tribute to the Mother Emanuel Church
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.
The Voyage of the Echo: The Trials of an Illegal Trans-Atlantic Slave Ship
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, and how the traffic profoundly affected debates about the future of U.S. slavery in the years immediately preceding the American Civil War. Published May 2014.