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 home >> Civil Rights History Project >> Survey of Collections and Repositories >> Collections >> Collection Record

The Civil Rights History Project: Survey of Collections and Repositories

Penn School papers

Repository: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Wilson Library

Collection Description (Extant): The Penn School on Saint Helena Island, S.C., was founded during the Civil War by northern philanthropists and missionaries for former plantation slaves in an area occupied by the United States Army. Over the years, with continuing philanthropic support, it served as school, health agency, and cooperative society for rural African Americans of the Sea Islands. The first principals were Laura M. Towne and Ellen Murray, followed around 1908 by Rossa B. Cooley and Grace B. House, and in 1944 by Howard Kester and Alice Kester. The school became Penn Community Services in 1950, with Courtney Siceloff as the first director, and the Penn Center, Inc. in the 1980s. The original deposits are papers, mostly 1900-1970, mainly from the Penn School, and primarily correspondence of the directors and of the trustees, treasurers, and publicity workers located elsewhere. Topics include African American education, Reconstruction, political and social change in South Carolina, agricultural extension work, public health issues, damage from hurricanes, World War I, the boll weevil and the cotton industry, the effects of the Great Depression on the school and the local population, changes in the school leading to a greater emphasis on social action in the outer world, and the end of the school and the turn to community service. Volumes include diaries, extracts from letters, recollections, minutes of the board of trustees, ledgers, cashbooks, inventories, financial records, registers of students and teachers, and minutes of various clubs and societies. Printed materials consists of newspapers clippings, pamphlets, promotional literature, school materials, administrative circulars, and annual reports. There are also about 3,000 photographs in the collection, dating from the 1860s to 1962 (bulk 1905-1944), documenting school activities, Island scenes and Islanders, classes and teachers, baptisms, agricultural activities, parades, fairs, and special events at the Penn School. Also included are about 300 audiotapes with oral history interviews and recordings of community acivities, 1954-1979. The Addition of 2005, contains papers of Courtney Siceloff, director of Penn Community Services, 1950-1970, and secretary of the South Carolina Advisory Committee of the United States Commission on Civil Rights, circa 1960-1970. Penn Community Services materials are chiefly administrative and financial. Material relating to the United States Commission on Civil Rights and its state advisory committees, especially the South Carolina Advisory Committee, includes some information about specific discrimination cases.

Access Copy Note: Folders 697-712 in Subseries 8.1.2 and Folders 713-745 in Subseries 8.1.3 are CLOSED until 2047.
Photograph albums are closed due to extreme fragility. Researchers must use microfilm copies.
This collection contains additional materials that are not processed and are currently not available to researchers. For information about access to these materials, contact Research and Instructional Services staff. Please be advised that preparing unprocessed materials for access can be a lengthy process.

Date(s): 1862-2004 and undated (bulk 1862-1978)

Digital Status: Unknown

Existing IDs: 03615

Extent: 50.0 feet of linear shelf space (approximately 32,000 items)

Finding Aid URL: External Link

Language: English

Interviewees: Robert Grant, Ben Mack, Rev. David Grant, Miller Thompson, Sam Gadsen, Jim Horton, Julia Horton, Edward Milton, Anna Milton, Rachell Holmes, Franklin Holmes, Jerry M. Alston, Christina Pope, Rosa Johnson, Victoria Polite, Mariah Perry, Geneva Perry, Ellick Smalls, Louise Wildy, Isabella Glen, Amanda Bradley, Victoria Mitchell, Mary Grant, Florence E. Rivers, Virginia D. Anderson, Minnie Jenkins, Evelena Glover, Gertrude Green, Josephine Green, Rebecca Mattis, Annie Chaplin, Melvin Gadson, Daniel Watson, Clarence Johnson, Fred Chaplin, Sr., Emanuel Alston, Walter Taylor, Leroy Adams, Nancy Green, Thomas Doyle, Ezekiel Green, Amanda Bradley, Harold Loundes, Richard Loundes, Ezekiel Cohen, Blanche Washington, Isabella Glen, Joe Arthur Brown, H. Rap Brown, Stokely Carmichael, Huey Newton, Kathleen Neal Cleaver, Elijah Muhammad, Maggie Smalls, Carrie Atkins

Rights (CRHP): Contact the repository which holds the collection for information on rights


African Americans--South Carolina
Civil rights movements--South Carolina
Penn Center of the Sea Islands
United States Commission on Civil Rights


Sound recordings


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   May 15, 2015
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