February 2016 Programs

Time_Machine_Feb_2016Charleston history is a grand shared history, like a mosaic composed of thousands of small stories reflecting the different colors and facets of our past.  Since February is Black History Month, we’ll take this opportunity to focus our attention on two fascinating historical items that haven’t received sufficient attention.  In the first, we’ll celebrate the forgotten Civil Rights successes of the late 1860s, years before the clouds of Jim Crow segregation swept over Charleston.  For the second program, we’ll take a close look at the facts and myths surrounding one of our most significant historical sites.

First Steps toward Civil Rights Equality In Charleston, 1866–1870

In the years immediately after the Civil War, our nation and state passed a series of laws extending full civil rights to all in South Carolina.  Our history textbooks tell us that these ambitious reforms enacted in the late 1860s largely failed to achieve their goals, and by 1890 segregation was the status quo in the Palmetto State and the rest of the American South.  Despite this fact, there were a handful of local civil rights triumphs in the early years of Reconstruction that deserve to be remembered.  Please join me for the stories of a few forgotten Charlestonians who tested the waters the early days of the struggle for Civil Rights.

  • Tuesday, 9 February at 11:15 a.m.,  John’s Island Regional Library, 3531 Maybank Highway, Johns Island, SC 29455 (with students from Haut Gap Middle School)
  • Thursday, 11 February at 6 p.m., Charleston County Public Library Auditorium, 68 Calhoun Street, Charleston SC 29401


The Pest House on Sullivan’s Island: A Brief History

From the early colonial era to the 1790s, the quarantine station or “Pest House” on Sullivan’s Island was the first point of landfall for many people coming to South Carolina, especially enslaved Africans.  Contrary to popular belief, however, not every arriving vessel was required to deposit its passengers at the Pest House, and some performed quarantine near the island without ever touching the land.  During the intense final wave of legal African arrivals in Charleston during the years 1804 through 1807, the new “lazaretto” on Morris Island performed the same function.  Please join me for a review of the facts and myths surrounding this humble but important institution and its place in our state’s history.

  • Thursday, 25 February at 6 p.m., Charleston County Public Library Auditorium, 68 Calhoun Street, Charleston SC 29401


Questions? Drop me a line at butlern[at]ccpl.org or call 843–805–6968 for more information.