20 July 2015

Reconstruction Era

On July 12th, I attended the opening ceremony and reception for America's Reconstruction: The Untold Story, a National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Institute for School Teachers being held at USC-Beaufort, July 12-August 1, 2015. Thirty teachers selected from all over the nation are in Beaufort to learn more about this pivotal era of American history and the crucial role that our county played in its evolution.  Keynote speaker was Dr. Emory Campbell, former Director of Penn Center and Chairperson of the Gullah/Geechee Heritage Corridor Commission who explained "What Emancipation Meant to the Gullah People."

The Institute examines the historical period 1861 to 1893 from the perspective of unique events and changing social conditions unfolding here in the South Carolina lowcountry and coastal Georgia. In many ways, Beaufort District was Ground Zero for Reconstruction. As Dr. J. Brent Morris wrote on the America's Reconstruction homepage: "The Reconstruction Era was literally a period of rebuilding ... The ending of slavery not only brought freedom to African Americans but also inaugurated a complex reshaping of fundamental American institutions including the lawmaking process, family structure, church organization, and the very definition of American citizenship itself." Reconstruction left an especial imprint on the lowcountry as it began in our locality late in 1861 and is said to have ended locally upon the death of Robert Smalls in 1915.

The Beaufort District Collection has compiled selective lists and links and digitized some of its materials and images on the subject of Reconstruction to support the goals of the Summer Institute. But, of course, we hope that anyone interested in the people, places, themes and issues of Reconstruction will use what we've put together.  We trust that all who peruse the content will gain a better understanding of the fascinating complexity of the Reconstruction era and its enduring impact on the people and institutions of the United States.

Thanks to Traci Cox, Information Services Coordinator, who helped me get the lists, links, and images onto our Library website.

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