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College of Charleston Launches Lowcountry Digital History Initiative
2/18/2014 4:20:37 PM

A new digital public history project at the College of Charleston - part of an emerging field that is revolutionizing the accessibility of history scholarship - helps tell the complex multicultural history of South Carolina.

The Lowcountry Digital History Initiative (LDHI) launches on February 18, 2014. This initiative is hosted by the Lowcountry Digital Library at the College of Charleston and is funded through grants from the Humanities Council of South Carolina and the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation.

The project signals the College's first large-scale offering in digital public history, a growing area of history education that combines the scholarly research of academic works with the visual imagery, archival materials, and accessible historical context associated with museum exhibits in an online platform.

Mary Battle, public historian at the College of Charleston's Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture and LDHI project director, said the focus of the initiative is to highlight underrepresented race, class, gender, and labor histories within and connected to the Lowcountry region.

Many of the first online exhibits for LDHI deal with the history of slavery and African Americans' long struggle for civil rights in the Lowcountry, including: African Passages, Lowcountry Adaptations; After Slavery: Race, Labor, and Politics in the Post-Emancipation Carolinas; The Orange Massacre; the Charleston Hospital Workers Movement, 1968-1969; A History of Burke High School in Charleston, South Carolina since 1894; African Laborers for a New Empire: Iberia, Slavery, and the Atlantic World; and Forgotten Fields: Inland Rice Plantations in the South Carolina Lowcountry.

These early exhibits draw on research by faculty from the College of Charleston as well as other universities and colleges, and many feature archival materials from Lowcountry Digital Library partners, including the Avery Research Center and the South Carolina Historical Society, as well as archives from universities, museums, and libraries around the world.

New exhibitions will be added to the site over time, Battle said. "Through this inclusive approach to history, public audiences can more effectively engage the diverse international history and struggles of the Lowcountry as an Atlantic World society.".

Each exhibit is richly illustrated with photos and historical documents, and site users can learn more about the research presented by exploring the "Sources" section of each project, as well as following embedded hyperlinks. For example, the exhibit the Charleston Hospital Workers Movement, 1968-1969 by project author Kerry Taylor features handwritten notes, letters, and flyers that help bring to life this pivotal event in Charleston's civil rights movement.

Another exhibit by project author Jon Hale chronicles the history of Charleston's Burke High School, which will be of interest to a variety of local and national audiences. Tracing the school's beginnings in 1894 as the Charleston Industrial Institute, the exhibit recounts Burke's evolving academic mission and its central role in the education of generations of Charlestonians.

For more information about the Lowcountry Digital History Initiative, contact project director and public historian Mary Battle at [email protected] or 843.953.7612.

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