Mother Emanuel AME Church Donates Condolence Correspondence Collection to S.C. Historical Society

The South Carolina Historical Society (SCHS) is privileged to announce the donation of the Mother Emanuel AME Church Condolence Correspondence to its archival holdings.

Following the horrific event at Mother Emanuel AME Church on June 17, 2015 that took the lives of nine parishioners and shattered the collective community, the church was inundated with thousands of pieces of correspondence. The collection fills more than 50 boxes and is an extraordinary record of the global outpouring of grief and support in the wake of this unforgettable tragedy.

In the first days following the murders, the church assembled a group of cultural institution professionals to address the mounting collection of items being sent to and left at the church and the Charleston Archives, Libraries, and Museums council (CALM) stepped in to assist with the multiple tasks at hand. CALM is a volunteer community of cultural institution professionals that formed in the wake of Hurricane Hugo to help establish plans for disaster preparation and recovery.

Following the tragedy, CALM volunteers helped maintain the materials being left in front of and sent to the church and moved vulnerable pieces inside to protect them from the elements. CALM volunteers represent multiple local cultural organizations including staff members of the South Carolina Historical Society, Patriot’s Point, Charleston Museum, Historic Charleston Foundation, Avery Research Center, Charleston County Public Library, Catholic Diocese of Charleston, City of Charleston, College of Charleston, Charleston Library Society, and Medical University of South Carolina.

In the years since, CALM has provided Mother Emanuel’s senior leadership and board with information regarding the needs and costs involved to organize, store, and preserve the collection. After a great deal of consideration, the leadership of Mother Emanuel made the decision to donate the correspondence to the SCHS.

Founded in 1855 and headquartered in Charleston, S.C., the South Carolina Historical Society is the state’s oldest historical society and one of the largest private manuscript archives in South Carolina. The Society’s headquarters, the Fireproof Building, recently underwent a multi-million-dollar renovation and now serves as The South Carolina Historical Society Museum. The SCHS Archives is housed within the Addlestone Library on the College of Charleston Campus.

The SCHS’ manuscript collection contains material from over 300 years ago, grows constantly, and has become an invaluable resource for authors, genealogists, historians, and others who are interested in South Carolina history. SCHS is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to its mission to expand, preserve and make accessible its invaluable collection; and to encourage interest and pride in the rich historical legacy of South Carolina.

SCHS strives to be representative of the whole of the state of South Carolina; that mission includes being a representative of all communities in our state. As they work towards that goal, SCHS is honored that Mother Emanuel AME has entrusted the S.C. Historical Society to be the stewards of these historic materials. For more information, visit schistory.org.

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