1868 Constitutional Convention Live-Tweet Event: #1868Convention

By Graham Duncan and Taryn Cooksey

One hundred and fifty years ago, delegates met in Charleston, South Carolina, to begin the process of drafting a new state constitution. In the nearly three years since the end of the Civil War, South Carolina Democrats had made every effort to maintain the political and social systems that protected white supremacy. The 1868 Constitutional Convention marked a turning point for the state, in which freed slaves and black men were able to establish some semblance of equality under the law.

Members of the Reconstruction Era legislature, many of whom were among the delegates in 1868 Constitutional Convention.

Members of the Reconstruction Era legislature, many of whom were among the delegates in 1868 Constitutional Convention.

The first phase of Reconstruction in South Carolina, was largely an effort by state elites to preserve the status quo of the antebellum period. On 30 June 1865, President Andrew Johnson appointed Benjamin Franklin Perry as provisional governor of South Carolina, and within three months, delegates assembled in Columbia to hold a constitutional convention. The delegates present were mostly the same men who had been among South Carolina’s pre-war elite, and they tried keep the state’s black majority from gaining any power or authority. Readmission into the federal government required southern states to repeal their articles of secession and accept the emancipation of enslaved people. The delegates begrudgingly agreed to these provisions, so that their constitution could get presidential approval. Under the leadership of newly elected governor James L. Orr, the South Carolina General Assembly quickly set to work crafting laws that ensured the antebellum power structures remained intact. Lawmakers passed a series of regulations dubbed “The Black Codes,” which barred black South Carolinians from any real political or economic security. Under the new laws, black citizens had only nominal rights to own property, sue others, and make contracts. Any legal authority granted by these initial laws was immediately undermined by the subsequent regulations: black people could only travel during certain times of day, could not own weapons, and were only allowed access to specially designated black courts. Hefty fees blocked them from engaging in trade or establishing businesses, while labor contracts often forbade black laborers from leaving the land of their employers. Furthermore, the government condoned the mobs and paramilitary groups that patrolled local communities and reinforced white supremacy through terror and violence.

After President Johnson’s refusal to impose stricter regulations and southern states’ refusal to ratify the Fourteenth Amendment, Republicans on the national level implemented new requirements that set the stage for 1868. Under the Reconstruction Acts of March 1867, congress eradicated the state governments of the seceded states and declared martial law. North and South Carolina formed the Second Military District, under the authority of General David E. Sickles. South Carolina would only be readmitted to the Union once the following steps were completed: extend the vote to all male citizens, have those citizens elect delegates to a new constitutional convention, submit the resulting constitution for voter approval, ratify the Fourteenth Amendment, and disband all military organizations.

Democrats found one loophole they hoped to use to their advantage. The convention could only take place if a majority of all registered voters voted in favor of it. A refusal to vote was counted the same as a vote against the convention. In an effort to stall a convention, politicians urged whites to register and then boycott the November election. Despite their efforts, a high turnout from black voters provided the majority needed to make the new convention happen. Because many white voters had simply refused to vote, they lost their opportunity to vote for any individual delegates. The result was a delegation who largely supported Reconstruction era reforms. Of the 124 delegates, seventy-three were black; among the fifty-one white delegates the majority were Republicans and fifteen were northerners who had relocated to the state.

The delegates met on 14 January 1868 and spent the next fifty-three days debating and drafting the state constitution. Though eventual political successes by white supremacists would undermine many of the delegates’ accomplishments, this convention remains a key point in South Carolina history. For the first time, black South Carolinians were able to participate in the legislative process. Men who had been enslaved only years earlier, voted for representatives who then assembled to draft a constitution that they hoped would better protect all citizens under the law.

In commemoration of the 150th anniversary of this momentous occasion, The South Caroliniana Library invites you to follow along with our special 1868 Constitutional Convention live-tweet event. Beginning on January 14th, we will provide daily updates on the proceedings, the key players, and notable debates. Please follow us on Twitter (@UofSCaroliniana) or follow our hashtag #1868Convention.

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700 Interviews Going Online: The 1977 International Women’s Year Collection

By Andrea L’Hommedieu, Oral Historian

This November, many will gather in Houston, Texas to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the 1977 National Women’s Conference. That conference attracted over 22,000 women (and some men) from across the nation, convening to discuss issues facing women in the United States and to ratify twenty-six planks (topics disproportionately affecting women) and adopt a National Plan of Action as part of International Women’s Year (IWY) directives. The National Women’s Conference was, for many, a defining moment in the modern women’s movement.

Little known to most of the world, something quite extraordinary was created at that conference and it all started right here in South Carolina. Historian Constance Ashton Myers, a professor at USC Aiken, was an early proponent of employing oral history as a research method and had previously interviewed suffragists about their involvement in the movement to secure women’s right to vote.

Constance Ashton Myers, 2009

Constance Ashton Myers, 2009

Dr. Myers, involved in both state and national IWY activities, applied for and received a National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) grant to assemble and coordinate a group of twenty-seven women from across the country to interview participants at the conference. And interview they did. The effort amassed a collection of some 550 interviews.

As she wrote in the grant application: “We propose [an] oral history project for the International Women’s Year national conference. The forthcoming conference will be a cultural and historical watershed in the women’s movement. More than 20,000 women of every conceivable view and background will converge on Houston to watch 1440 delegates, elected in state meetings, adopt a National Plan of Action as a guide for the President and Congress in the next ten years. The conference presents a one-time opportunity to sample the views and capture the personal histories of some of these women…. and place their commentaries in the permanent record…. for future scholarship. “

Added to that were the 150 interviews gathered at South Carolina’s state conference earlier that year, titled “Heritage to Horizons”. The Office of Oral History at the University of South Carolina eventually received the vast trove of interviews (as did the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA)).

The interviews offer first-hand accounts of the conference on topics such as health care, child care, domestic violence and reproductive rights, as well as the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), and more.










Keller Barron, a South Carolinian and women’s rights proponent, whose papers are held by South Carolina Political Collections, attended both the state and national conferences. Here is a sound clip from Keller Barron’s interview at the national conference:

Other interviews with notable women include Betty Friedan, Jean Stapleton, Septima Clark, Kate Millett, Modjeska Simkins, and Betty Bone Schiess, one of the first female episcopal priests to be ordained in the United States.

In 2010 a small grant allowed for the digitization and transcription of a select number of interviews in the collection, and in 2016 Dr. Marjorie Spruill, Professor Emeritus of History and author of Divided We Stand, and I, Office of Oral History, received two internal grants to digitize, transcribe and give access to a significant portion of the collection. By fall of 2018, with assistance from doctoral candidate Jillian Hinderliter, more than 300 interviews will be available online.

The searchable web site for the collection is now accessible, and content continues to grow.  In addition to the interview transcripts and sound recordings, the Resources page allows for further and deeper discovery of the conference and the larger women’s movement. The web site is here: http://library.sc.edu/blogs/iwy/



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Musical Gems in the James Ritchie Sparkman Medical Library

by Craig Keeney, Cataloger, South Caroliniana Library

The South Caroliniana Library has held the correspondence and journals of James Ritchie Sparkman (1815-1897), a physician and plantation owner in Georgetown County, South Carolina, for years. It has only recently, however, acquired Sparkman’s private library. The collection contains devotional literature, historical works, travelogues, and as one might expect, a variety of 18th and 19th-century medical texts. It also includes three bound volumes of sheet music that merit special attention. Two volumes contain scores arranged for voice and piano and bear the bookplate of James Sparkman’s wife, Mary Elizabeth Heriot Sparkman (1827-1912). The third contains handwritten and published scores arranged for voice and guitar and appears to have belonged to Esther Ball (her connection to the Sparkman family is unclear). Taken together, these volumes offer a snapshot of the music publishing industry and musical tastes in the United States in the early to mid-19th century.

Cover of Ester Ball's notebook of handwritten and published scores.

Cover of Esther Ball’s notebook of handwritten and published scores.

Philadelphia dominated the sheet music industry during the antebellum period, a fact borne out by the number of scores in the Sparkman library published by Philadelphia residents Augustus Fiot (1803-1866), George Willig, Sr. (1764?-1851), and Leopold Meignen (1793-1873). Charleston, South Carolina, was also a leader, with George Oates (1821-1897), Orville Augustus Roorbach (1803-1861), and John Siegling (1789-1867) publishing and distributing sheet music at a competitive clip. Examples of their output are extremely rare; of the 17 titles in the Sparkman library published by John Siegling, only one–The Light House–is known to exist elsewhere. The scores in the Sparkman library are also among the earliest ones published in South Carolina. The Greek Exile’s Farewell to Naxos, for example, gives Siegling’s business address as 109 Meeting Street, indicating it was published in the 1820s (after Siegling opened his first store at 69 Broad Street and before he moved it to the corner of King and Beaufain Streets). Only two other music publishers—Charles Gilfert (1787-1829) and Philip Muck (active 1803-1822)—are known to have been in operation in Charleston prior to or during that time.

"Greek Exile’s Farewell to Naxos."

“Greek Exile’s Farewell to Naxos.”

A comparison of the scores for piano and guitar in the Sparkman library confirms the two instruments shared a similar repertoire. Excerpts of Italian opera tunes, musical adaptations of Thomas Moore’s poems, polkas, and waltzes appear to have been especially popular. The prevalence of scores for guitar may at first seem unusual, but in fact the instrument was widely popular during the antebellum period and only lost ground as mass-produced pianos became available later in the 19th century. The Sparkman library attests to the instrument’s popularity, including not only a copy of one of the earliest instructional books for guitar published in the United States, Otto Torp’s New and Improved Method for the Spanish Guitar, but a handful of handwritten scores, presumably intended as copying exercises.

One piece, titled Didst Thou Ever Think of Me, is especially interesting. The arrangement is credited to S.M. White, of whom the publisher offers few details. It turns out S.M. White was an alias for Samuel L. White, an African American musician and composer based in Philadelphia.

"Didst Thou Ever Think of Me." Arranged by S.M. White.

“Didst Thou Ever Think of Me.” Arranged by S.M. White.

A black man writing for a white audience, Samuel White embodied a contradiction: he could freely contribute music, but he could not reveal his identity. He eventually left Philadelphia for Louisville, Kentucky, where he founded the Mozart Society, a music appreciation society that gave concerts in African American churches. This rare copy of Didst Thou Ever Think of Me is one of the few surviving examples of his work.

You can browse the sheet music and other portions of James Sparkman’s library by visiting libcat.csd.sc.edu and doing an author search on “James Ritchie Sparkman Medical Library.”




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Processing of Bishop John Hurst Adams Collection is Underway

By Melissa Develvis

Melissa Develvis is a graduate assistant at the South Caroliniana Library. She is currently processing the John Hurst Adams collection, which will open later this year.

The personal and professional papers of John Hurst Adams, a now-retired Senior Bishop in the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church, span his career within the church as well as his many years as an educator, civil rights leader and activist, and participant in numerous organizations that assist African American communities in the United States. A Columbia, South Carolina native, Bishop Adams was born in 1927 to Charity Nash Adams and Reverend Eugene A. Adams, an A.M.E. minister, social activist, and educator whose papers are also held in the South Caroliniana Library. Adams grew up in the Waverly District and attended Booker T. Washington High School before leaving to pursue higher education, eventually becoming a professor at Payne Theological Seminary in Wilberforce, Ohio and then the president of Paul Quinn College in Waco, Texas.

In 1962, Bishop Adams became the pastor of First AME Church in Seattle, where he chaired the Central Area Civil Rights Committee alongside members of the NAACP and Seattle Urban League. He became the 87th Bishop of the AME Church in 1972 and a Senior Bishop in 1988. By the time of his retirement in 2004, Adams had overseen five episcopal districts: Texas, the Washington, D.C. area, Georgia, South Carolina, and Florida and the Bahamas. Bishop Adams now lives with his wife, Dr. Dolly Desselle Adams, in Atlanta, Georgia. They have three children— Gaye D. Adams-Massey, Jann Hurst Adams, and Madelyn Rose Adams-Cobb —and many grandchildren.

The Bishop John Hurst Adams collection heavily features his time as a Senior Bishop and includes minutes from the Council of Bishops, General Board, and Judicial Council of the AME Church as well as the proceedings of his work in specific districts. It also includes documents regarding the AME Church’s many educational and health programs as well as the Richard Allen Service and Development Agency, which Adams helped to found.

In addition to his work within the AME Church, Bishop Adams founded the Congress of National Black Churches (CNBC) to establish dialogue within the African-American community across denominational lines. The founding of the CNBC and its projects involving education, the black family, and the Church Insurance Partnership Agency are all featured in this collection. Also included are Adams’s work in opposing apartheid in South Africa, his membership to the National Black United Fund, his work as Chairman of the Board of Trustees at the Interdenominational Theological Center and other historically black colleges and universities, and The Black Community Crusade for Children through the Children’s Defense Fund.

This collection also includes the papers of Dr. Dolly Desselle Adams, who served for five years as the president of the Black Women’s Agenda, and was the eighth president and now serves on the Executive Board of The Links, Incorporated. Both organizations are made up of women of color dedicated to serving African American women and communities of African descent, respectively. This collection will prove invaluable to those interested in religious history, civil rights history, and African American history.

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Cool Stuff, Rediscovered: Cataloging at the Caroliniana

By Meg Coker

Note: In this post, Meg Coker provides a highlight of her work as Cataloging Assistant for the Caroliniana’s retrospective conversion of the old card catalog into electronic format. This is an ongoing project that is crucial to providing researchers wider and deeper access to our collections. Meg is now employed as a Librarian with the Tobin Library at Oakwell, which is part of the San Antonio Public Library.

For a few days in October 2016, freshwater sponges were my arch nemeses. Or, to be more accurate, the stupendous amount of articles about freshwater sponges written by a scientist, Nathaniel Gist Gee (1876-1937), who traveled from South Carolina to China for a few years to study them. Over 30 of these writings had been gathered up and tucked into a single large folder, but there were also plenty of others on the shelves of the South Caroliniana Library stacks. The first 3 or 5 of the articles were interesting, but I was definitely ready for a change of topic by the 20th or so.

Illustration of freshwater sponges from China

Illustration from Nathaniel Gee’s pamphlet, “Freshwater Sponges,” published in 1931.

My main task as the Published Materials Cataloging Assistant for the Caroliniana can sound impressive (“retrospective conversion”) or relatively simple: find the items in our card catalog which aren’t in our modern electronic catalog yet and add them, while describing the materials well enough that someone researching a topic (like freshwater sponges in China) can find them. Sometimes an item already had been cataloged by another institution who had a copy of the same book or article via WorldCat.org , and I was able to note that we also had a copy and add the record to our local systems.

Most of the time no one had cataloged that particular work before, and it was my job to write a record for it with all of the known details, including date(s), author(s), title(s), material type, measurements, subjects, etc., and add it to both OCLC and our own local catalog. You can see what a record like this looks like in our online catalog when you select a collection item and then click on “MARC display” (just above the title): a carefully-crafted combination of numbers, cataloging symbols, and text that tells the catalog system about each and every item which we have in our collections. And it all started with thousands of little typed cards.

Palmetto Cat Show program cover

Program cover from the 1976 Palmetto Cat Show

It’s amazing, the places you’ll travel to just by looking through our card catalog. Sometimes you’ll have a quick jaunt around town with the newsletters of medical societies and charitable organizations (and some amazing cat show programs), or to other points of the state regarding matters of education and managing our natural resources. Sometimes the materials were from our Southeastern region of the US, with programs for conferences, fairs, and other projects worked on across state lines and organizations. And yes, sometimes you can end up reading about something as far-flung as freshwater sponges in China, because the naturalist studying them was a native South Carolinian and a local instructor. There’s a little something for practically every interest, and I am glad to have had the pleasure of making it a little easier for everyone to find what they’re looking for here at the South Caroliniana Library.




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Work Underway on Palmetto Education Association Collection

By Sam Alexander, J.A. Kay Graduate Assistant

The PEA/SCEA (Palmetto Education Association and South Carolina Education Association respectively) Collection contains manuscripts and documents relating to PEA during the last two decades of its existence during the 1950s and 1960s, and on its merger into the larger SCEA organization. This folding into SCEA provides insight into race desegregation on a professional basis; prior to 1967, PEA had been the professional organization and union for teachers at all-black schools in South Carolina, while SCEA had been the organization for white teachers.

Most, if not all, of the items in the collection came from Walker E. Solomon, who was the last Executive Secretary of PEA before its merger with SCEA. Even after the merger, Solomon retained a high position in SCEA as an assistant executive secretary. As Solomon held such a high rank in the organization, the documents and manuscripts of the collection are varied. Although many of the documents are for matters such as the minutes of a meeting among PEA’s Board of Directors, they also include documentation of investigations into whether or not school desegregation was leading to many African-American teachers being unfairly fired.

Unidentified photograph, Palmetto Education Association

Unidentified photographs, Palmetto Education Association

Unidentified photograph, Palmetto Education Association

Unidentified photograph, Palmetto Education Association

Additionally, many of the items in the collection come from across the country. For example, there are various records which include research performed on different issues in different states, one example being a manuscript which contained the results of a study done on teacher merit pay in the state of North Carolina. This also leads to one of the most interesting items in the collection, a letter on a metal sheet sent in by the Office of the Governor of Illinois.

The large collection contains additional material, such as documents relating to conventions were held by different organizations such as PEA, SCEA, and their parent organization, NEA (National Education Association). Furthermore, there are copies of various journals, newsletters, and magazines that were published by the organizations for their members, and correspondence that details the process PEA went about to acquire advertisers for their journals.

The processing of the collection could not have come at a better time, as 2017 will be the 50th anniversary of the merger of PEA and SCEA.


J.A. Kay, a resident of Atlanta and Dillard, Georgia, established the J.A. Kay South Caroliniana Library Intern Endowment Fund to provide support for internships for graduate or undergraduate students in an appropriate discipline to work with rare and unique research materials and learn state-of-the-art conservation techniques and other professional library skills.

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Mapping the Future: Digitizing the Map Collection of the South Caroliniana Library

By Ann Merryman, Coordinator of Archives and Special Collections, USC-Upstate

There are many reasons why libraries are interested in creating digital collections or online digital exhibits.  Showcasing legacy materials that support the library’s core mission, bringing together disparate materials that as a group can enhance scholarship and learning, or providing a link from the past to modern day events can all be driving forces behind the development of a digital collection.  Then there are instances where a digital collection is born out of necessity, perhaps to combat or prevent extreme deterioration of the materials, or simply because a library’s collection is outgrowing the building’s physical space.  Regardless of the reason for creating a collection, the goal for each is the same:  providing a high-quality, useful, easily-navigated, and visually appealing resource that will be accessible to a diverse and far-flung user group.  This is the story of how one particular digital collection, The South Caroliniana Library Map Collection, was developed.

The South Caroliniana Library, located on the historic Horseshoe of the University of South Carolina, has created a number of digital collections showcasing the wide variety of materials owned by the library.  From the William Gilmore Simms Digital Edition, to the Planter’s Guide and Family Book of Medicine, to the 1956 edition of the Negro Traveler’s Greenbook, the collections cover a broad range of topics.  One of the largest collections owned by the South Caroliniana Library is the map collection, which numbers thousands of items.  The map collection of the South Caroliniana Library has always been a significant resource for geographers, historians, and genealogists, but in terms of physical space it occupies a fairly with approximately 10 flat file cases of 12 drawers each. In a building dating from 1840 where the collections continue to grow, the perfect storm was brewing.

"Plan of the Battle Fought Near Camden, August 16, 1780."

“Plan of the Battle Fought Near Camden, August 16, 1780.”

Besides the obvious need to increase physical space in the library, however, what else about the map collection made it a good candidate for digitization?  In the past two hundred years, technological changes have substantially altered the landscape of South Carolina, and the library’s map collection visually documents these transformations. The maps show airports, battlefields, cemeteries, churches, cities, highways, Native American territories, postal routes, railroads, schools, topographical features, towns, and urban, rural, and African-American slave populations. Taken together, the maps chart the state’s urbanization over time. The collection also contains a number of maps dating from the 16th through the 21st centuries, which are vital to researchers interested in the history of cartography.  In short, there were many reasons supporting digitization of the collection.

I began working at the South Caroliniana Library as a graduate assistant in August 2011 when I entered the MLIS program at USC’s School of Library and Information Science.  From the earliest days of my job, it was evident that finding space for the library’s growing collections was a daily challenge, much like a real-life game of Tetris.  In conjunction with this, I was always on the lookout for ways to practice the skills I was learning in my MLIS program and apply them in a real-life library setting, and the SCL map collection and its accompanying challenges provided me with the perfect opportunity to get some hands-on experience creating and working with a large digital collection.

The South Caroliniana Library’s map digitization project was begun in February 2013 with the original goal of providing wider access to the SCL map collection outside of the library. The planning phase of the project involved SCL’s Director, Henry Fulmer, and catalog librarian Craig Keeney, along with Digital Collections librarians Kate Boyd and Ashley Knox. A test batch of 55 maps was scanned in late February by Timothy Hyder (MA Public History 2013); descriptive and technical metadata following Dublin Core Metadata best practices and SCDL Metadata guidelines was created by Sara Chizari (SLIS Ph.D candidate) in collaboration with Keeney. These maps were randomly selected to represent all sizes available in the collection. A second batch of 51 maps, documenting the Civil War period was scanned in late April 2013 by Chizari, and accompanying metadata was again generated by Chizari and Keeney.

"Plan of the Seige of Charleston, in South Carolina." 1787. South Caroliniana Library.

“Plan of the Seige of Charleston, in South Carolina.” 1787. South Caroliniana Library.

In August 2013, the scope of the project significantly expanded to encompass digitization of the entire collection, in preparation for relocation of the maps to offsite storage. At this point I picked up the project from Chizari, and worked with Fulmer and Keeney to develop a revised workflow and documentation to provide guidance and continuity throughout the remainder of the project.  Two of the main issues I needed to address were determining which maps had already been scanned in the first two batches, and developing a system for tracking future scans.  With a collection this large, the most logical method was to scan the maps in chronological order by size, beginning with the smallest.

My primary responsibilities required me to review and edit the original descriptive metadata, upload the revised data to CONTENTdm (software used by numerous libraries that handles the storage, management and delivery of digital collections to the Web), develop search facets for the collection, and work with Knox to develop and publish a webpage to USC’s Digital Collections.  I know, I know…that sounds fascinating, right?  So, what if I told you I got to work with what I fondly dubbed on campus as “the Ferrari” of scanners?  The Zeutschel is a large-format overhead scanner that allows us to scan even the largest maps with minimal editing, and it is quite the cool piece of technology!  With the large scanning area, even the largest or most fragile maps can be scanned in one piece, eliminating the need to “stitch together” multiple images into a complete map.  Additionally, the ability to operate the scanner using hands-free controls means less time between scans, and eventually faster completion of the project.  For fun, this is a picture of me scanning, below:

Ann Merryman scanning map for South Caroliniana Library's map digitization project.

Ann Merryman scanning map for South Caroliniana Library’s map digitization project.

I worked on the project through February 2014, when I was hired as a full time librarian at USC-Upstate in Spartanburg, SC. The project is ongoing, and The digital collection will expand as content is added, and until all maps have been scanned.  This is an incredibly ambitious project, and one that I am proud to be associated with.  By digitizing this wonderful collection of maps and providing access to a broader audience, the South Caroliniana Library continues to uphold its mission of documentation and preservation of the history of South Carolina.  You are invited to view the collection on the USC Digital Collections Library webpage.

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