Photograph of South Carolina College, circa 1870

Slavery at South Carolina College, 1801–1865:

The Foundations of the University of South Carolina


The creators of this website were members of a small graduate seminar that accomplished an enormous amount in the span of a single semester. The achievement is especially impressive when one realizes that the subject of slavery at South Carolina College has attracted very little attention from researchers. Without a doubt, Graham Duncan is the pioneer in studies of slavery at the college. As a history major at the University of South Carolina, he researched and wrote a path-breaking senior thesis, completed under the direction of Professor Thomas Brown in 2006. We thank Graham Duncan, now a staff member at the South Caroliniana Library, and Professor Brown for their patience with our many queries about sources and context. During the Fall 2010 semester, Professor Robert Weyeneth taught a senior seminar on “Slavery and the Origins of the University of South Carolina,” in which eleven history majors directed their concentrated energies on all aspects of slavery at the college, from the day-to-day world of slavery to its intellectual and political dimensions. This website provides links to the important foundational research conducted in this class by Ashley Chastain, Nicole Gattis, Eric Grayson, Adam Plyler, Lucas Snyder, Jay Spears, Erich Straughn, Jeremy Stroud, Adrian Thomas, Chadvis Vernon, and Joey Williams. In addition, history major Hannah Oakley researched the origins and evolution of the campus wall as part of a public history internship in the summer of 2010, and she has continued to work with us to draw attention to ongoing threats to this significant feature of the historic landscape of the University of South Carolina. We thank these history department colleagues for sharing their research with us. We also thank Professor Weyeneth who coordinated the Public History Program’s graduate seminar in Historic Site Interpretation during the Spring 2011 semester that built upon the undergraduate research and created this website.

None of this historical research would have been possible without the enthusiastic support and cooperation of Elizabeth Cassidy West, the University Archivist, who has a deeply informed knowledge of university history and its records. She and her graduate assistant, Katharine Thompson, endured a steady stream of demanding researchers camped out for long hours in the close quarters of the reading room of the Manuscripts Division of the South Caroliniana Library with grace and good humor. At the South Caroliniana Library we also thank Beth Bilderback, Robin Copp, Graham Duncan, Henry Fulmer, Craig Keeney, and Allen Stokes.¬†For access to the historical collections of McKissick Museum, we thank Jill Koverman, Chief Curator of Collections and Research. We thank University Archives, the South Caroliniana Library, and McKissick Museum for permission to use materials in their collections in digitized form on this website. Images from the South Caroliniana Library are acknowledged “SCL” in captions, “SCDAH” for materials at the South Carolina Department of Archives and History, and “LOC” for collections at the Library of Congress. A footnoted hard copy of the full text of the website has been deposited at the South Caroliniana Library.

To build the website, we are especially grateful to Kate Boyd, Digital Collections Librarian at University Libraries, and to Ashley Knox, the Digital Collections Project Manager. They developed a seamless process for scanning paper documents and images and converting them into digital form. We thank Digital Collections for permission to link to images on its website and to provide a permanent home at the University of South Carolina for our website. We appreciate the time and effort that Jason Steelman, University Libraries Web Developer, and Aric Lavendar, Web Development Assistant, put into migrating our website from its initial home on Weebly to the University of South Carolina server. The class owes an enormous debt to Matthew W. Shepherd, Digital Collections Assistant, for the technical assistance he brought to the migrated website, including an impressive eye for scholarly detail and a deeply thoughtful approach to issues of web design and layout. We also note the assistance of Jennifer Guiliano, Associate Director, and Jun Zhou, Assistant Director, of the Center for Digital Humanities at South Carolina for getting the undergraduate research online last fall.

We also appreciate the support of archivists and librarians at repositories beyond the University of South Carolina campus, particularly Charles Lesser and Steven Tuttle of the South Carolina Department of Archives and History and Debra Bloom at the Walker Local History Room of the Richland County Public Library.

Our teachers here in the Department of History have been generous with their time. For their scholarly expertise on slavery and antebellum South Carolina, we thank Professors Thomas Brown, Matt Childs, Bobby Donaldson, Walter Edgar, Lacy Ford, and Mark Smith. Shufan Liu of the Department of Geography offered helpful guidance with Geographic Information Systems (GIS) software. We are grateful to the History Center at the University of South Carolina for hosting a forum that allowed us to preview the website and receive peer review from fellow historians and public historians, as well as to the many alumni of the Public History Program throughout the United States who took time to share their comments and suggestions.

We thank all who assisted us in this project but note that none of these individuals or organizations is responsible for the conclusions and historical interpretations on this website.

  • Allison Baker
  • Jennifer Betsworth
  • Rebecca Bush
  • Sarah Conlon
  • Evan Kutzler
  • Justin McIntyre
  • Elizabeth Oswald
  • Jamie Wilson
  • JoAnn Zeise
Photograph of eight History 789 students in front of Gambrell Hall
Eight of the nine members of the History 789 class, Spring 2011.

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