Introducing a New Collection: “Septima P. Clark Papers, ca. 1910-ca. 1990”
Thanks to generous support from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC), one of the Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture’s most popular archival collections has been digitized: the “Septima P. Clark Papers, ca. 1910-ca. 1990.” The Lowcountry Digital Library (LCDL) is proud to host 4.75 linear feet of this collection, the records that deal specifically with Clark’s activism in the Civil Rights sphere.
Born in Charleston, South Carolina in 1898 to Peter Porcher Poinsette and Victoria Anders, Septima Poinsette Clark attended small private schools, in addition to the Avery Institute, culminating in the receipt of a teacher’s certificate in 1916, a BA from Benedict College in 1942, and an MA from Hampton Institute in 1946. Throughout her time as a teacher throughout the state of South Carolina, she was devoted to the cause of civil rights. Clark is most famous for her development of Citizenship Schools, the purpose of which was to teach adults the ability to read and write, in addition to educating students the information necessary to understand the rights that American individuals inherit as citizens of the United States, with particular regard for voting.
The collection contains a wide variety of records regarding Clark’s life, career, family, and professional colleagues. Generally speaking, the materials available from this collection include biographical documents, writings, talks, lectures, speeches, correspondence, pamphlets, and photographs that were either created or accumulated by Clark. Individuals and organizations associated with this collection include Allen University, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Blacks United for Action, J. Herman Blake, Bethel United Methodist Church (Charleston, S.C.), Candie and Guy Carawan, Charleston County Public Schools, Charleston Liberation Party, the Clark family, Dorothy Cotton, Highlander Folk School, Rev. Jesse Jackson, Esau Jenkins, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, Penn Community Services, the Poinsette family, Bernice Robinson, Southern Christian Leadership Conference, United Church of Christ, among others.
Highlights include correspondence and photographs with President Jimmy Carter, wherein the president thanks Clark for participating in White House ceremonies sponsored by the National Caucus on the Black Aged in honor of her outstanding contributions in the field of Human Services. Relatedly, there exist an assortment of congratulatory correspondence regarding Clark’s achievements and awards including Mayor Joseph Riley and Senator Strom Thurmond. The collection contains a fantastic collection of photographs of classroom settings at the Highlander Folk School, Southern Christian Leadership Conference events, Septima P. Clark Day Care Center Ceremony, and the Septima P. Clark Expressway Ceremony.
We at the LCDL hope that you find that the records in this collection–taken as strong evidence of the hard work that Clark and her colleagues put forth for the purpose of civil rights–will help aid in your research and understanding of the life and career of the unique and distinguished Lowcountry figure who is Septima P. Clark.