SCMM Receives Donnelley Foundation “Broadening Narratives” Grant

Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation announces grantees of first-ever “Broadening Narratives” grant initiative to illuminate underrepresented stories through collections. Grants total $579,000 to ten organizations in the Lowcountry of South Carolina and Chicago; Five Lowcountry-based grant recipients to each receive a range of $25,000 to $100,000 to fund new projects, including:

  • Avery Research Center for African American History & Culture at the College of Charleston – collection of oral histories, photographs, documents, and other ephemera related to Civil Rights movements in the Lowcountry with a focus on the Black Lives Matter movement of the 2010s 
  • Coastal Carolina University – digital archival process to make Gullah historical records from the Plantersville community accessible to the public via the hiring of a community coordinator and consultant, community presentations, and creation of micro-interpretive stations 
  • Drayton Hall Preservation Trust – cataloging and digitizing colonoware, a significant archaeological artifact that helps shed light on the lifeways of the enslaved Africans who made, used, and traded this ceramic type via the hiring of a curatorial fellow and support for additional equipment and travel 
  • Harbor Historical Association / South Carolina Maritime Museum – collection of oral histories and displays illuminating the role of African Americans in SC maritime history, including the transatlantic slave trade to SC; using water as a means to escape enslavement; and the post-Civil War transition from enslaved labor to work in the lumber and shipping industries 
  • Penn Center – interpretation and sharing of Sea Islands Gullah Geechee culture and history with permanent and temporary exhibitions via the hiring of a director of exhibitions and interpretation

Avery Research Center for African American History & Culture at the College of Charleston, Coastal Carolina University, Drayton Hall Preservation Trust, Harbor Historical Association / South Carolina Maritime Museum, and Penn Center. This announcement represents the first round of organizations to receive the new Broadening Narratives grant, with the second round of awardees to be announced in November 2021. All projects illustrate working-class narratives, small community experiences, as well as other underrepresented groups and viewpoints. While the purpose of collections is to ensure that stories are preserved, many narratives are often overlooked because of decisions that they are perceived to be outside the conventional thinking of the institution. “We are thrilled to announce these grant recipients and want to thank these organizations for being part of this new way forward in collections thinking that shifts focus from the processing of material objects to the telling of broader and more inclusive narratives,” said David Warren, Executive Director of the Foundation. 

Harbor Historical Association / South Carolina Maritime Museum will create an exhibition that will illuminate the transatlantic slave trade into South Carolina; using water as a means of escape; and show the transition of Afro-Carolinians from enslavement on plantations to work in maritime-related occupations. “Although elements of the role of African Americans in South Carolina maritime history have been present in our museum, this grant will allow us to broadly expand this history from the transatlantic slave crossings to post Civil-War maritime occupational roles. As a self-supporting non-profit, we look forward to applying these funds to partnerships with other local individuals and groups to accurately represent this history through narrative panels, oral histories, and community programs.”