Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture


Avery Research Center Sweetgrass Basket Collection

The Avery Sweetgrass Basket Collection holds significant modern examples of a centuries-old craft. Following African traditions, baskets of coiled grasses were originally produced by slaves on Lowcountry plantations for agricultural use. Over time, sweetgrass baskets have become artistic expressions that retain the African aesthetic — a symbol of African American culture and a signature of […]




Catherine and James Yatsco Collection

The Catherine and James Yatsco Collection contains artifacts collected in West Africa in the 1970s and 1980s. During 1971-1973, Captain James C. Yatsco was stationed in Monrovia, Liberia, under the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), where he helped manage the pharmacy in a newly-built hospital. Catherine Yatsco taught high school English to a […]


Cleveland L. Sellers, Jr. Papers, 1934-2003

The Cleveland L. Sellers, Jr. Papers is comprised of papers relating to the Orangeburg Massacre, February 5-8, 1968. Included in the collection is a poem, a collection of Western Union telegrams, press releases, a fact sheet created by the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, flyers, photographs, and a resolution from the Student Legislative Council of the University […]


Craft and Crum Families 1780-2007

The collection of artifacts pertaining tot he Craft and Crum families of the Lowcountry includes a myriad of materials; photo albums, letters, account books, and land deeds. The Craft Family Photo Album includes images of Craft family members, famous abolitionists, and other family friends, many of international historical significance. Also included in the collection are legal […]


Dr. Elizabeth Clarice Hall Collection

Dr. Elizabeth Clarice Hall (1946-2005) was born in Albany, Georgia. She earned a B.S. in Biology from Ursinus College in 1968, then an M.S. and Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology from Florida State University in 1971 and 1973. The artifacts in this collection were assembled from Dr. Hall’s various trips to Africa.


Edwin A. Harleston Collection

The Edwin A. Harleston collection contains three original paintings by African American artist and community activist Edwin “Teddy” Harleston (1882-1931) of Charleston, South Carolina. The pieces are representative of the early twentieth-century artists famous portraits and landscapes of the South Carolina Lowcountry. Edwin A. “Teddy” Harleston (1882-1931) was an African American artist and community activist […]


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 […]


Friendly Moralist Society Records, 1841-1856

The Friendly Moralist Society was a benevolent society for free brown (mulatto or mixed race) men established in Charleston, S.C. in 1838. The group provided burial aid and purchased plots for those in need and provided charitable assistance to widows and orphans of deceased members. Includes proceedings, minutes, and an Absentee’s Book.


Fulbright-Hays Trip Collection

In 2008, Curtis J. Franks travelled to West Africa as a participant in the Fulbright-Hays program under the auspices of the U.S. Department of Education to explore historical and cultural connections between people of African descent in the Lowcountry and Africans in the Mano River Region (Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia and the Ivory Coast), where […]


George Pope Collection

The George Pope collection contains Nigerian artifacts acquired while Mr. Pope, former U.S. State Department employee, was stationed in the country. Nike Olaniyi [Okundaye] Davies (1951- ) is an internationally known artist and textile designer from Nigeria. She founded and runs the Nike Center for Art and Culture in Oshogbo [Osogbo], Nigeria, which offers art […]


Glendia Cooper Collection

Glendia Cooper, African American potter, grew up in Mississsippi and has exhibited her work in various cities across the United States. Her pieces, inspired by travel in Africa and South America, are created using the coil and slab methods, then shaping, molding, decorating and glazing by hand.



Holloway Family Scrapbook, 1806-1974

This scrapbook, compiled by James H. Holloway (1849-1913), contains legal documents, personal and business correspondence, receipts, ephemera, clippings and photographs pertaining to the Holloway family, a prominent free family of color in Charleston, SC. Legal documents include deeds (1806, 1821, 1871), a conveyance (1811), slave bills of sale including one for the slave “Betty” (1829), […]


Isaiah Bennett Papers, ca. 1932-2002

The collection contains, primarily, the correspondence of Isaiah Bennett, President of the Charleston Chapter of the A. Philip Randolph Institute. Isaiah Bennett (1926-2002) served as a union representative for tobacco workers at the American Tobacco Company’s “Cigar Factory” and as a leader and negotiator of the Charleston Hospital Workers’ Strike of 1969. Bennett also founded […]



Joseph A. Towles Artifact Collection

African American anthropologist Joseph Allen Towles (1937-1988) met British anthropologist Colin Macmillan Turnbull (1924-1994) in 1959. The two exchanged marriage vows in 1960 and they lived together in an interracial, homosexual relationship until Towles’ death in 1988. Towles and Turnbull spent various periods of time in Africa, conducting fieldwork on the Mbuti, Mbo, and Ik […]


Joseph and Rachel Coards Photography Collection

The Coards Studio was a photography studio owned and operated by Joseph and Rachel Coards in Charleston, South Carolina. Coards photographed African American families and individuals in the studio and various events and groups outside of the studio, such as graduations, weddings, and other ceremonies. The studio, located at 78 Line Street, closed in the […]



Keith and Charlotte Otterbein Collection

The Keith and Charlotte Otterbein collection contains straw objects obtained while doing ethnographic work in Nassau, Bahamas between 1959 and 1987. Many of the items in this collection were made by individual Bahamian craftswomen (also called “plaiters”) who maintained their independence in the straw industry, while four were sold in the Nassau straw market, thus […]




Lowcountry Fish and Shrimp Nets

Cast net fishing is a significant part of history in the South Carolina Lowcountry. Africans transported to the Lowcountry, later known as the Gullah people, brought with them skills in boating and fishing. Seafood was plentiful on the South Carolina coast and barrier islands (sea islands) and made up a large part of the diet, […]


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 […]


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 […]


Miriam DeCosta Seabrook and Herbert U. Seabrook Papers, 1882-1995

This collection includes correspondence, certificates, photographs, and other materials related to Miriam DeCosta Seabrook’s education at Avery Institute and elsewhere, teaching career, and civic involvement; correspondence, speeches, and reports related to Dr. Herbert Seabrook, Sr.’s community and fraternal affiliations and to his medical career as a private practitioner and director of the Hospital and Training […]


Muriel and Marcus Zbar Collection

The Muriel and Marcus Zbar Collection was donated by Dr. Marcus J. Zbar, a 1951 graduate of Vanderbilt University. The collection consists of artifacts originating in West and Central Africa and Papua New Guinea that Dr. Zbar privately purchased from various galleries across the United States.




Philip Simmons Collection

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 […]


Rogers-Cline Collection

The Rogers-Cline Collection is comprised of two cast iron kitchenwares; a kettle and a cook pot. The cast iron kettle has a wire handle, the lid is imprinted “ROME GA SO -CO – OP F’DY – CO” (Southern Cooperative Foundry Company; Rome, Georgia). The six-gallon iron cook pot has two bail handles.


Septima P. Clark Papers, ca. 1910-ca. 1990

This scrapbook contains images, newspaper clippings, and correspondence from the life of Septima P. Clark, a Charleston educator and civil rights activist. Septima Poinsette Clark was born in Charleston, S.C. on 3 May 1898, the daughter of Peter Poinsette, who grew up a slave on the plantation of Joel Roberts Poinsett (with conflicting data saying […]


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 […]