Civil Rights work Before Civil Rights Era: A search guide to the SCCHR Collection

Screenshot of SC division of SRC letterhead.
Screenshot of SC division of SRC letterhead.

 

 

 

 

By Laura Stillwagon

389 pages of the civil rights collection Records of South Carolina Council on Human Relations (SCCHR) are now accessible and searchable here on Digital Collections. The SCCHR was a local organization devoted to promoting civil rights and bettering the lives of African Americans in South Carolina and the rest of the South. In these select administrative papers, dated before the Civil Rights Movement during Post-War America, the SCCHR is yet to be formed, and members are still part of the larger Southern Regional Council (SRC) as a state division. As the South Carolina Division of the SRC, the organization’s goals were to foster civil rights by identifying the needs of the underrepresented and marginalized groups in South Carolina and find ways to address these needs through spreading awareness, programs, and other means (South Carolina, 2021). These extensive documents provide insight into how the organization grew and changed and the organization’s inner workings of organizing committees, promoting and performing outreach, and solidifying the foundational ideas what would eventually become the SCCHR.

These 389 pages amass only 8 folders of this collection, which consists of 1,700 folders and spans 1934-1976, so there is certainly more to come. At this time, there is no landing page for the collection, so this link (same as the link above) will take you to a results page with the searchable documents. Another way to search for this collection is to type in the organization name into the search bar in the Digital Collections homepage. To search within the collection, you can enter your search terms into the search bar above the list of items. You can also search for specific items by selecting linked terms within each item record.

Screenshot of search bar to search within a record in the SCCHR collection.
Screenshot of search bar to search within a record in the SCCHR collection.

The digitization work for this collection, funded by Council on Library and Information resources (CLIR) grant for Digitizing Hidden Collections, is rigorous, requiring large scanners and unique metadata. You can read more about the digitization process in the following blog posts made by two digital assistants working on this project.

 

References

South Carolina Council on Human Relations Records, South Caroliniana Library, University of South Carolina. http://archives.library.sc.edu:8081//repositories/3/resources/56 Accessed June 11, 2021.

James Clyburn: Then and Now

By Laura Stillwagon

As part of the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) grant we recently received, and  alongside digitizing the South Carolina Council on Human Relations archive held at UofSC’s South Caroliniana Library, a new website for civil rights collections will be created to allow for easier searching and browsing of these collections. Much of the civil rights collections available online in Digital Collections, South Carolina Political Collections, Moving Image and Research Collections and elsewhere, encapsulate the state of South Carolina’s experience and memory of the Civil Rights Era.

To prepare for the website, a large assessment and evaluation of the current civil rights collections is being done. While searching through some of the content, some of the recorded early work of James Clyburn, current Majority Whip and Democratic Representative of South Carolina, was found. He has had a long political career in South Carolina, and a lot of his activity during the Civil Rights Era and after was recorded. Representative Clyburn has even been in the news lately for his appointment as Chairman of the bipartisan House committee created to manage spending on measures made to control the COVID-19 pandemic.

Before the aberrant events of today, Majority Whip Clyburn was involved in both social justice and bureaucracy during and after the Civil Rights Era. An active participant in the Civil Rights Movement, outtakes from the two speeches given by Martin Luther King, Jr. in Columbia show Clyburn at the front row. Following the Civil Rights Movement, he was the acting Head of the South Carolina Human Affairs Commission. Rep. Clyburn was also an assistant to the South Carolina Governor West for Human Resources, where he dispelled misinformation on the economic disparities of poor and African American people-in-need. In 1971, Clyburn was elected president of Young Democrats of South Carolina. In 2015, Clyburn announced the donation of his papers to the Center for Civil Rights History and Research as part of the opening ceremony for the establishment of the center at the University of South Carolina’s Hollings Library.

Video above: WIS-TV newsman Tom Howard introduces James Clyburn, assistant to Governor John West for human resources. Clyburn tries to dispel the “welfare Cadillac” myth, which purports that ineligible people misuse the food stamp program.

Documents and more on James Clyburn can be found here. More local TV newsreel outtakes from MIRC can be found here, as well as more collections that document South Carolina during the Civil Rights Era. Stay tuned for our CLIR digital collection updates!

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References

Forgey, Q. (2020, 5 April). Clyburn: House coronavirus panel ‘will be forward-looking,’ not review Trump’s early response. Politico. Retrieved from https://www.politico.com/news/2020/04/05/trump-clyburn-house-coronavirus-panel-166064