McLeod Plantation seeks to incorporate Oral History into Museum

McLeod Plantation.

McLeod Plantation. Originally the back of the home, the Antebellum-influenced portico was added in the twentieth-century and later served as the entryway into the home.

McLeod Plantation, originally built as the residence of the middle-class McLeod family in 1851, opened its doors in April of 2015 as a museum geared toward interpreting the experience of the enslaved peoples who once populated the territory. In addition to touring the home of the plantation owners, guests can also visit the preserved dwellings of the enslaved people that once littered the entryway to the home. This row of houses known during the Antebellum era as “slave row” served as a symbol of not only wealth and status for the owners but also oppression for the owned. The preserved dwellings are today known as “Transition Row” and a guided tour of the quarters illuminate the mixture, creation, and perseverance of Afro-American cultures and the fortitude of the enslaved peoples harbored within the white washed-walls. Moreover, these modest cabins remained occupied by African Americans into the early 1990s.

Shawn Halifax, the onsite Cultural History Interpretation Coordinator, recently gathered members of the Lowcountry Oral History Alliance in order to stimulate a dialogue on how best to acquire and incorporate the oral histories of former McLeod Plantation residents without exploiting the experiences of these people. Dr. Mary Battle, Public Historian at the Avery Institute of Afro-American History and Culture, along with Mary Jo Fairchild, Manager of Research  Services, Special Collections at College of Charleston, provided keen insight and suggestions on devising an oral history workshop where the stories of these peoples will be obtained in an ethical manner. The narratives of these people are, “essential to understanding Charleston’s complex past and helped shape who we, as a nation, are today (”

For more information on McLeod Plantation, please visit:

Transition Row

“Transition Row.” Image courtesy of



Avery Celebrates 150th Anniversary

The Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture

The Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture

The Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture, a research affiliation of the College of Charleston, celebrated its 150th anniversary on Saturday, October 31st.

“To understand the Avery Research Center, it is important to consider its rich history. Founded in 1865 as the Avery Normal Institute, this community hub 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.

The modern rebirth of Avery began in 1985 with the establishment of the Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture at the College of Charleston. The newly christened center came to fruition through a memorandum of understanding between the former Avery Institute and
the College, with many of the charter members graduates of the original Avery Normal Institute.

For the last twenty-five years, the Avery Research Center has collected art and archival materials that document the history, traditions, and legacies of African Americans and their influence on American society and culture, as well as their place within the American narrative (source –”

To commemorate Avery’s anniversary, Ann Caldwell delivered a musical performance followed by remarks from: Dr. Patricia Lessane, Executive Director of the Avery Research Center; Dr. Bernard Powers, Professor in the Department of History at the College of Charleston; the Honorable Lucille Whipper, Avery Institute Alumna, former South Carolina State Representative, and former President of the Avery Institute Board.

LessanelucillewhipperPowersFor more information on the Avery Institute, please visit the following website: