The submarine H.L. Hunley represents one of the most complex composite structures ever recovered by an archaeological team. The exterior hull is comprised of wrought-iron plates of various sizes, several cast-iron fittings and glass view-ports.
While the Hunley was lost at sea, it was going through a series of physical and chemical changes. Salts from the sea water slowly penetrated the iron hull creating a series of changes that if left untreated the submarine would rust and crumble within a matter of months. It took nearly 150 years for the salts to become integrated in the structure so it will take a little while before they can be extracted.
The submarine has sat in a tank of fresh water under an impressed current system, since it was recovered in 2000 in an effort to stop further corrosion of the iron. Upon recovery the submarine also sat in a 45 degree angle, the same position as it was found. This kept its contents undisturbed and allowed for a more accurate excavation. In 2010 the submarine was rotated into an upright position so scientists could access the starboard side and also to begin the painstaking job of removing the hard crust of concretion (a mixture of shells, sand and silt) covering the submarine’s hull.
Several components of the submarine have been removed over the years in order to be treated and conserved separately. The collection shown here is an example of some of these components ranging from wrought iron plates, rivets, bolts, tools, viewing ports and some organic materials such as the crew member’s bench, and Lt. Dixon’s seat.
The Katherine Nicklaus Collection contains two female carved wooden masks whose origin was the Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly known as Zaire).
The Herbert A. DeCosta, Jr. Papers include materials related to the professional and personal life of Herbert DeCosta, Jr., his wife Emily, and numerous Craft, Crum, and DeCosta family members. Namely, the walking cane of Dr. William Crum.
The Keith and Charlotte Otterbein collection contains straw objects obtained while doing ethnographic work in Nassau, Bahamas between 1959 and 1987. Many of the items in this collection were made by individual Bahamian craftswomen (also called "plaiters") who maintained their independence in the straw industry, while four were sold in the Nassau straw market, thus likely mass produced. The light colored plaits of these objects are made of cabbage palm, and the dark colored plaits are coconut straw.
Cast net fishing is a significant part of history in the South Carolina Lowcountry. Africans transported to the Lowcountry, later known as the Gullah people, brought with them skills in boating and fishing. Seafood was plentiful on the South Carolina coast and barrier islands (sea islands) and made up a large part of the diet, just as on the west coast of Africa. The process used for catching fish and shellfish was a cast net. When the net is thrown, the mesh forms a circle, flattening out like a plate. The line is then pulled in, closing the net and trapping everything in it. Usually several people in fishing communities know how to weave and knot the nets; however, it is a skilled art form that has its roots in Africa.
Glendia Cooper, African American potter, grew up in Mississsippi and has exhibited her work in various cities across the United States. Her pieces, inspired by travel in Africa and South America, are created using the coil and slab methods, then shaping, molding, decorating and glazing by hand.
The Edwin A. Harleston collection contains three original paintings by African American artist and community activist Edwin "Teddy" Harleston (1882-1931) of Charleston, South Carolina. The pieces are representative of the early twentieth-century artists famous portraits and landscapes of the South Carolina Lowcountry.
Edwin A. "Teddy" Harleston (1882-1931) was an African American artist and community activist in Charleston, South Carolina. A graduate of Avery Normal Institute and member of Plymouth Congregational Church, he founded the Charleston chapter of the NAACP in 1917 and served as first president of the organization. His father, Captain Edwin G. Harleston (1854-1931), opened Harleston Funeral Home in 1917, and duo ran this business until their deaths in 1931.
Carlton Simmons (1959-) began his apprenticeship with uncle Philip Simmons at the age of 13. Today he is less known for utilitarian ironwork, but his decorative and artistic pieces are highly sought-after.
In 2008, Curtis J. Franks travelled to West Africa as a participant in the Fulbright-Hays program under the auspices of the U.S. Department of Education to explore historical and cultural connections between people of African descent in the Lowcountry and Africans in the Mano River Region (Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia and the Ivory Coast), where the artifacts in this collection were acquired.
Dr. Elizabeth Clarice Hall (1946-2005) was born in Albany, Georgia. She earned a B.S. in Biology from Ursinus College in 1968, then an M.S. and Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology from Florida State University in 1971 and 1973. The artifacts in this collection were assembled from Dr. Hall's various trips to Africa.