The Avery Research Center
The Avery Research Center
The Avery Research Center was established to collect, preserve, and make public the unique historical and cultural heritage of African Americans in Charleston and the South Carolina Lowcountry. Avery’s archival collections, museum exhibitions, and public programming reflect these diverse populations as well as the wider African Diaspora. Avery is home to approximately two hundred manuscript collections, varying in size from a few items to over fifty linear feet; over five thousand printed items, ranging from standard texts, rare books and pamphlets to dissertations and journals; over four thousand photographs; hundreds of reels of microfilm, VHS tapes, clipping files, and digital formats. There are also dozens of collections of artifacts ranging from those that document slavery to material culture from West Africa and a sweet grass basket collection.
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Notable Collections: Family Histories
Bell Family Papers, c. 1926-c. 1972 – Click to Expand
The African American Bell family of Charleston, SC were descended from Sally (Sarah) Johnson, the matriarch of a free family of color. These papers document properties owned by the family, especially the historic home at 2 Green Street, Charleston, sold to the College of Charleston in 1971. Includes materials on the history of the Bell, DeReef, and Purvis families; health of Hiram Bell, Sr. and references to Friendly Union Cemetery. Printed materials and certificates from Morris Brown A.M.E. church (1926), Avery Normal Institute, Shaw School and Hampton College; with various printed materials documenting the Bricklayers, Masons and Plasterer’s Union, of Charleston and elsewhere.
Richardson and McNeil Family Papers, c. 1900-1993 - Click to Expand
1 Box 0.25 lf
Toby Richardson arrived in South Carolina in 1810 as an enslaved person belonging to a John Richardson of Port Royal. By the late nineteenth century he was farming twenty-four acres on James’ Island and working as a fisherman and carpenter. He was interested in literacy of the local black children and a member of Brown Church. A widower with nine children, Mr. Richardson married Jane McNeil in 1897. The daughter of Daniel and Maria McNeil, Mrs. Richardson had already been widowed three times and brought six children to the marriage. They had two children together. Contains genealogy and family history compiled by Richardson descendants for family reunions in the 1990s. Also contains some legal documents, copies of family photographs, and information on the First Baptist Church of James Island. Also listed as McNeil and Richardson Family.
Holloway Family Scrapbook, 1776-1977 - Click to Expand
10 Boxes 5.25 lf
James Harrison Holloway (1849-1913) was born a free person of color in Charleston where he attended a private school for free Negro children and grew up attending in the gallery of Trinity Methodist Church on Meeting Street. Dedicated to preserving his family history for future generations, he began this scrapbook. He also took interest in the achievements of all African Americans, collecting newspaper articles and postcards to document their notoriety. Contains documents, correspondence, and clippings that pertain to business, family history, social activities, and organizations, including the Brown Fellowship Society, Trinity Trustees, Centenary United Methodist Episcopal Church, and the Christian Benevolent Society, among others.
Janet Hicks Papers, c. 1882-1915 - Click to Expand
1 Box 0.25 lf
Contains genealogical documents of Ms. Hicks’ family, including several photos, c. 1900-1915, an 1882 marriage certificate, and family tree for John R. Steele, c. 1904.
Lecque Family Papers, c. 1880-1990 – Click to Expand
1 Box 1.25 lf
The Lecque Family was one of the founding families of Liberty Hill Community in North Charleston, South Carolina. The family has remained active in that community to the present. Contains information about the Lecque Family and Liberty Hill area as researched by Mrs. Carolyn Lecque Collins. Includes correspondence, legal documents, articles, and a few photographs.
Various Collections I and II, c. 1900-1990 – Click to Expand
2 Boxes l.0 lf
These collections are an amalgamation of various family and individual collections that Eugene Hunt acquired during his tenure as president of the Avery Institute for Afro-American History and Culture. Contains various memorabilia, family history, scrapbooks, and programs from Avery events and students. Includes information from the following collections:
- Boags Family
- Chisolm, Nell Houston
- Douglas, Rosslee
- Harleston Family
- Hassell, Oliver
- Hutchinson, Felder
- Jefferson, Louis D.
- Jenkins, Maude T.
- Kelly, Anna
- Logan Family
- Moses, Louis
- Mouzon, H. Louise
- Poinsette, Septima
- Pope Family
- Seabrook, Miriam DeCosta
- Tracy, Charlotte DeBerry
- Williams, Lucille
Notable Collections: Organizations
International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftsmen Local #1, South Carolina, c. 1899-1990 - Click to Expand
16 Boxes 11.5 lf
The International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftsmen, Local No. 1 of South Carolina was organized as an association of bricklayers in 1885. This African American labor union is the oldest in continual operation in the state. Its first members were both free and enslaved people prior to the Civil War. Contains membership cards, financial records, minutes and correspondence-some concerning the A. Philip Randolph Institute of South Carolina. Also contains some photographs and memorabilia, including the program and award information from the brickwork competition won by this group as part of the South Carolina Interstate and West Indian Exposition held in Charleston in 1901.
Mickey Funeral Home Papers, c. 1907-1935 – Click to Expand
5 Boxes, 2.25 lf
Edward Mickey helped found Charleston’s Humane Brotherhood Society in 1843. This benevolent society of “free dark men” provided insurance for burial and care for the families of its deceased members. Edward C. Mickey was a tailor in the antebellum period and a legislator during Reconstruction. Samuel G. Mickey, a physician, graduated from the Avery Normal Institute in 1884. Edward Crum Mickey, who became an undertaker, graduated from Avery in 1901 and was active in African American community affairs, sitting on the Avery Board. Edward Crum, his brother Richard H. Mickey, and cousin Edwin Harleston were actively involved in establishing the Charleston chapter of the NAACP. The Mickey family was active in Centenary Methodist Church. The Mickey Funeral Home, operated by descendants of the Mickey family, is still prominent in Charleston doing business as The Harleston – Boags Funeral Home. Contains general correspondence, account books, business journals, ledgers, and other documents pertaining to the operation of the business.
See also Centenary Methodist; Harleston Funeral Home.
Harleston Funeral Home Papers, c. 1900-1960 – Click to Expand
5 Boxes 7.5 lf
The Harleston Funeral Home, now the Harleston – Boags Funeral Home, was owned and operated by descendants of the Mickey family who had established Charleston’s Mickey Funeral Home in the nineteenth century. Edwin Harleston, an Avery graduate who was actively involved in establishing the Charleston chapter of the NAACP, was an undertaker as well as respected painter. Contains ledgers and receipt books, including information on individual funerals, insurance records, inventories, and receipts.
See also the Mickey Funeral Home Collection.
Friendly Union Society: Charleston African American Burial Society and Social Organization Papers, c. 1912-1991 – Click to Expand
1 Box 1.25 lf
The Friendly Union Society was formed in Charleston in 1813 for the relief of orphans and widows and to provide for the general welfare of the community. Contains original and photocopied documents of the organization, including the constitution and bylaws, minutes, ledger books, treasurer’s materials, and plat map of burial ground by Magnolia Cemetery.
Notable Collections: Church Records
Central Baptist Church Papers, c. 1891-1916 – Click to Expand
1 Box 0.25 lf
The Central Baptist Church, established in 1891, and is located in downtown Charleston on Radcliffe Street. Contains copies of pages from the Church Record Books: Book 1, 1891-1899, and Book 2, 1891-1916.
Morris Brown A.M.E. Church Papers, c. 1980-1995 – Click to Expand
1 Box 0.25 lf
Morris Brown A.M.E. Church, named for Morris Brown, was established in 1867 upon the purchase of the old Lutheran Church Building on Morris Street. The congregation was named in honor of Morris Brown, the free black lay preacher from Philadelphia who was instrumental in establishing the African Methodist Church in Charleston in 1818, and was later expelled from the city in the wake of the threat of the Denmark Vesey revolt. Contains several programs from anniversaries of the congregation and conferences.
Mt. Zion A.M.E. Church Records, 1884-1949 – Click to Expand
1 Box 0.25 lf
Mt. Zion African Methodist Episcopal Church, Charleston, S.C., was formed in 1882, splitting from Emmanuel AME Church, Charleston, which was unable to accommodate all its members. Contains bound volumes in two separate series, each in chronological order.
Zion-Olivet Presbyterian Church Papers, c. 1854-1992 – Click to Expand
15 Boxes 8.5 lf
Zion-Olivet Presbyterian Church formed in 1959 with the merger of Zion and Olivet Presbyterian Churches in Charleston. Both began as missions in the mid-1800s. In 1859, an independent structure was built on Calhoun Street that was reputedly the largest building for blacks in Charleston. Olivet began as the Charleston Presbyterian Mission on George Street and moved to 93 Beaufain in 1879 where Olivet Presbyterian Church worshipped for eighty years. Today’s congregation is located at 134 Cannon Street. Contains church documents and records, including financial reports, Sunday school records, minutes, programs, newsletters, church directories, and other items illuminating the activities of the church and congregation.