Avery Research Center

Avery Normal Institute

Avery Normal Institute Class of 1911

Founded in 1865, the Avery Normal Institute provided education and advocacy for the growing Charleston African American community and trained blacks for professional careers and leadership roles. Although the Institute closed its doors in 1954, it graduates preserved the legacy of their alma mater by establishing the Avery Institute of Afro-American History and Culture.  This collection includes photographs of classes, extra-curricular activities, and reunions.  Also, included are documents regarding activities presented and sponsored by the Avery Normal Institute.

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Esau Jenkins Papers, 1963-2003

Esau Jenkins Papers, 1963-2003
Esau Jenkins (1910-1972) was born and raised on Johns Island, South Carolina. With very little formal education, he became a businessman and civil rights leader. Jenkins founded the Progressive Club in 1948, which encouraged local African Americans to register to vote, through the aid of Citizenship Schools, a topic he was educated in by his attendance at Highlander Folk Center in Tennessee. In 1959, he organized the Citizens’ Committee of Charleston County dedicated to the economic, cultural and political improvement of local African Americans.
 
Printed material, correspondence, photographic materials, and literary productions (1963-2003) document the life and works of Esau Jenkins (1910-1972). Writings holds miscellaneous correspondence and notes and printed versions of his talks and writings. Affiliations contains correspondence, brochures, notes, and other data on variety of organizations he helped found or was a member of, including the Progressive Club, Citizen’s Committee of Charleston, Community Organization Credit Union, Political Action Committee of Charleston County, Political Awareness League of Charleston County, and the Highlander Folks Center. Topics mentioned include the 1969 Charleston Hospital Worker’s strike, and the protested death of a young African American, Robert Brown, killed by a white policeman in 1970.
 
This collection was digitized and made freely available online through the generous support of the National Historical Publications and Records Commission.
 

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Philip Simmons Collection

Philip Simmons with ironwork

Philip Simmons (1912-2009) was an African American blacksmith and artisan specializing in the craft of ironwork in Charleston, South Carolina. Simmons spent seventy-seven years crafting utilitarian and ornamental ironwork. His work is recognized within the state of South Carolina, nationally, and internationally.  This collection, donated by the Philip Simmons Foundation, holds personal papers with photographs and business related documents from 1977-2007. The bulk of materials feature preparatory graphite drawings (originals and photocopies) of commissioned works and estimates of Simmons' decorative ironwork (1984-2004, and undated).

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William McCarthy and Martin Barbeau Collection

William McCarthy and Martin Barbeau Collection

The William McCarthy and Martin Barbeau Collection is comprised of artifacts from various origin. The objects are primarily decorative currency, such as bracelets and anklets. Places of origin include Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire), Nigeria, Togo, Zambia, Niger, Cote d'Ivoire, Ethiopia, and Ghana.

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McLeod Plantation Cemetery Collection

McLeod Plantation Cemetery Collection

The McLeod Plantation Cemetery Collection contains beads found in 1996 during the construction of a fire station in James Island, South Carolina. Construction of the fire station, which was to be located between Folly Road, Country Club Drive, and Wappoo Creek, was aborted when workers unearthed unmarked graves. The human bones found were believed to be the remains of slaves that had once lived on McLeod Plantation.

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Marie Metz Collection

Marie Metz Collection

The Marie Metz Collection is comprised of three objects; a mantel clock, a xylophone, and a clock topper. The mantel clock has metal legs with markings that indicate that the clock was made in New York. The square xylophone has five plates, each producing a different tone. The clock topper is an ornamental figurine that is displayed atop a mantel or shelf clock. The female figure is seated beside a quiver of arrows and holds a box of jewels. Markings indicate the ornament was made by the Art Metal Works Company in New York, New York. Art Metal Works was established in New York City in 1886 and moved to Newark, New Jersey in 1887.

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Walter Pantovic Artifact Collection

Walter Pantovic Artifact Collection

Historically known as "The Walter Pantovic Slavery Collection," these artifacts span the African American experience from slavery to the Civil Rights era to the rise of African Americans in popular culture. Walter Pantovic was born in Yugoslavia in 1965 and immigrated to the United States at the age of two. He became interested in African-American history in elementary school and in his adult life began collecting artifacts related to the subject. Highlighted items in his assembled collection include shackles, slave tags, and manillas along with 1960s Civil Rights ephemera and 1970s African-American pop culture memorabilia.

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