North American Society for Oceanic History 43rd Annual Conference

On Monday, May 15th, the College of Charleston will host the North American Society for Oceanic History (NASOH) 43rd annual conference. This year’s conference will see professors and academics from across the world present papers covering a range of topic that pertain to “Ventures into the Western Ocean: Global Maritime Communities, Commerce, and Conflicts.” Presentations will explore a wide range of maritime connections, cultural landscapes, or an interweaving of both to examine the meaning and processes of our maritime heritage.

Christophe Boucher, Associate Professor of History at the College of Charleston, will be presenting a paper which explores the role of Native Americans in the fall of Fort Caroline in the 16th Century.  Prof. Boucher said that he is delighted that the College of Charleston has been afforded the opportunity to host such a prestigious conference, stating that “the upcoming conference presents an excellent opportunity for those within the discipline to remain engaged within the realms of oceanic history.”

Further information on the The North American Society for Oceanic History and its mission can be found here.


Carter Hudgins at CLAW

On February 8th, 2017, Dr. Carter Hudgins, Director and CEO of the Drayton Hall Preservation Trust, delivered the Carolina Lowcountry and Atlantic World Program’s first Wells Fargo Distinguished Lecture of 2017 entitled “The Past and Future of Drayton Hall.”
The lecture traced the development of Drayton Hall from its beginnings in the eighteenth century by using the wealth of material artifacts found on the site and recovered from archives and collections from around the Lowcountry. Through meticulous archeological and historical study, the Drayton Hall Preservation Trust hopes to reconstruct the lives of the estate’s residents, including John Drayton and the many enslaved people who worked his surrounding plantations.
The work of Dr. Hudgins and his team have uncovered a surprising history, and many artifacts discovered at Drayton Hall are found nowhere else in North America, including rare black Delft ceramics, one-of-a-kind patterns from China, and other rare products from around the world, showing that Drayton participated in global trade networks. However, according to Hudgins, John Drayton also placed a high value on domestically produced products and native landscapes, and many of the furniture pieces were made right here in Charleston at the workshop of Thomas Elfe. The gardens also represented the Lowcountry’s unique style, and while the design was inspired by the grand English estates, Drayton utilized native plants and trees and worked with the low-lying shape of the Ashley river area to create a distinctly local landscape. According to Dr. Hudgins, the Drayton Hall site is a convergence of different cultures and histories as represented by a particularly important piece of recently discovered ceramic that was produced and used by enslaved people of African descent. The artifact strongly reflects the blended ceramic techniques of Europe, West Africa, and southeastern Native America.
Dr. Hudgins also discussed Drayton Hall’s plans to build a visitor’s center and fulfill its goal to become a premiere archeological site dedicated to researching, documenting, and preserving the Lowcountry’s unique history. While Dr. Hudgin’s research has uncovered a tremendous amount of material history, he said they have barely scratched the surface of what the Drayton site can teach us about eighteenth-century Charleston and the lives of those who inhabited the area.
Many College of Charleston students and faculty attended the talk, and Dr. Hudgin’s research also attracted a number of interested members from the community. For more information on Drayton Hall’s preservation efforts, please visit

Hines Prize 2017: Call for Submissions

The Hines Prize is awarded to the best first book relating to any aspect of the Carolina Lowcountry and/or the Atlantic World. The prize carries a cash award of $1,000 and preferential consideration by the University of South Carolina Press for the CLAW Program’s book series. If you have a manuscript on a topic pertaining to the Carolina Lowcountry and/or Atlantic World, please send a copy to CLAW Director Simon Lewis at- before May 15, 2017. Graduate students are also eligible to compete for the Hines Prize if they have a relevant manuscript.

Revered Lowcountry Historian Charles Joyner Dies: CLAW Executive Director Vernon Burton Pays Tribute.

Renowned historian Charles Joyner died September 13, 2016, at the age of 81.  Joyner’s career is not easy to summarize because, to employ one of his own phrases, it “stubbornly resists synthesis.” Charles Joyner has lived in the South most of his life—writing, teaching, and lecturing on southern history from slavery and the Civil War to segregation and the Civil Rights movement, from politicians and generals to rebels and reporters; Southern literature from William Faulkner to William Styron, Julia Peterkin to Natasha Trethewey; Southern folk culture from tales and legends to music and material culture; and Southern music from ballads to blues, spirituals to classical, country and bluegrass to rock and jazz.  Much of his work has explored what he has described as “pursuing large questions in small places.” He has pursued some of the most important questions close to his home, such as the influence of folk culture on the civil rights movement on Johns Island, the influence of assimilation on identity in the Jewish community of Georgetown, and the emergence of Gullah culture in the slave communities along the Waccamaw River.

Born in 1935, Joyner grew up mainly in the Pee Dee region of northeast South Carolina.  Joyner studied at Presbyterian College and earned two Ph.D.’s at the University of South Carolina and the University of Pennsylvania.  He taught at multiple universities before serving for 27 years as a history professor at Coastal Carolina in Conway, where he was the Burroughs Distinguished Professor of Southern History and Culture.

Joyner came of age in the segregationist South.  Yet, his belief in justice and his empathy for others led him to join the Civil Rights crusade in early adulthood.  Those experiences of a white southern liberal who was active in the Civil Rights Movement motivated and inspired Joyner in his exploration of the intersections of African American and white cultures.  Because he appreciated the value of all people and their stories, he weaved their stories together as they flowed through Southern history and heritage.

Joyner is widely respected for his award-winning book Down by the Riverside: A South Carolina Slave Community, which chronicles slave life in the community of All Saints Parish in Georgetown County, South Carolina.  Published in 1984, it is one of the finest and most intimate books ever written on slavery.  Joyner’s influence extended far beyond Down by the Riverside.  He authored numerous books, articles, and essays; he made documentary films, taught university classes, and lectured nationally and internationally on Southern history and culture.

Joyner was also a musician.  With a historical fascination with the roots of various musical genres, he used his musical talent to inspire others in their activism, their studies, and their joy.  He told folktales and sang traditional songs at local elementary schools as well as with groups of distinguished historians.

His numerous honors and awards include the Governor’s Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Humanities from the South Carolina Humanities Council.  He served as a president of the Southern Historical Association and of the North Carolina Folklore Society.  He was an honorary life member of the British American Nineteenth-Century Historians.  In 2011 Coastal Carolina University hosted a conference: “Writing the South in Fact, Fiction, and Poetry.”  This group of scholars, novelists, and poets of the American South gathered together to honor Charles Joyner.

Joyner is survived by his wife Jean Dusenbury Joyner, his son Wesley, his daughter Hannah, her husband David, and Joyner’s grandson Abraham.

We have lost a truly great historian and a great humanitarian, and for me an even better friend.  He made the world a better place, and the world is less because of our loss. We shall not see the likes of a Chaz Joyner again.


Orville Vernon Burton


Dr Nicole Maskiell Review

On September 27th 2016, Nicole Maskiell, an assistant professor of History at the University of South Carolina- Columbia delivered a lecture entitled “The Runaway Who Passed as Slave Catcher: Native Slavery and the Strange Histories of the Color Line” as the CLAW program’s first Wells Fargo Distinguished Public Lecture of this academic year.

Dr Maskiell’s lecture represents her research into the histories of race and slavery in the colonial northeast, especially New York and New Jersey. Using a range of slave runaway advertisements between about 1680 and 1770, Dr Maskiell demonstrated how both slaveholders and  enslaved people  used “Indian” and “mulatto” identities, identities that over time hardened into the racial binary of “white” and “Negro.” The existence of multiple ethnicities  in colonial New York and New Jersey was ultimately responsible for shaping the  development of race and identity in the colonial period and beyond.

Dr. Maskiell’s work refines the contours of our understanding surrounding concepts of race and identity in the colonial period insofar as she successfully demonstrates that they existed outside of a binary. More importantly, failure to consider identities outside of the dichotomy risks losing the rich and important voices of enslaved peoples.

Dr. Maskiell’s talk also placed considerable emphasis on how slave masters established a network throughout New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Maryland to assist in the recapture of enslaved people.

The talk was extremely well attended by the College students of all standing.  The high number of attendees demonstrates that there is still significant interest in recovering the lost voices from this nation’s past.

Lisa Covert, a member of the History faculty at the College, stated that:

“Dr. Maskiell presented fascinating research on the complex, multiethnic context for the evolution of ideas about race in the early Americas. Her research reveals how various actors subtly deployed racial categories to meet their own needs, whether that meant tracking down a runaway or carefully evading capture. She demonstrated the challenges of piecing together the stories of those so often marginalized in the historical record by inviting the audience to interact with her sources. In so doing, however, Dr. Maskiell also revealed how fragments can come together to speak volumes. ”


Mark Auslander review

On September 15th, Mark Auslander, an Associate Professor of Anthropology at Central Washington University and Director of  CWU’s Museum of Culture and Environment, gave a presentation at the College of Charleston on an embroidered bag known as “Ashley’s Sack” that will be displayed at the new Smithsonian Museum of African American History. The embroidery on the sack tells the story of a mother and daughter who were separated by a slave sale in South Carolina. The sack, of unknown provenance, is presumed to have remained in the family as a treasured heirloom, before appearing for auction in 2007.  Because of Ruth Middleton’s embroidered name on the sack, it was purchased by Middleton Place, where it has been on display in a variety of contexts since. 

Auslander’s talk not only revealed the outcome of his genealogical detective work to determine the likely identities of Ruth, Middleton and her ancestors, but also demonstrated how the embroidered text and the sack itself can humanize the broader historical narrative of kinship among enslaved families that were split up during the period of slavery in South Carolina.  Pointing out that the family structure was of vital importance, not only to slave identity but also to the memory of enslaved persons, even when the unit itself was dispersed over many miles, Auslander demonstrated great dexterity in tracing probable candidates not only for Ruth Middleton, and her great grandmother Rose and grandmother Ashley, but also for their likely master. 

Auslander’s research is significant insofar as it attempts to broaden our understanding of how enslaved people attempted to preserve not only their family networks, but also how they sought to preserve notions of agency and autonomy.

The talk was well attended, with members of both the campus and wider Low Country community in attendance. The broad range of attendees rendered the discussion both lively and inquisitive. 

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Call for Proposals: 2017 Conference, “Transforming Public History from Charleston to the Atlantic World”


Conference: “Transforming Public History from Charleston to the Atlantic World,” June 15-17, 2017, College of Charleston, Charleston, South Carolina, USA

Hosted by: The Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture, Addlestone Library, and the Carolina Lowcountry and Atlantic World Program at the College of Charleston

Continue reading Call for Proposals: 2017 Conference, “Transforming Public History from Charleston to the Atlantic World”

Nafees Khan, “The Presentation of the Atlantic Slave Trade in U.S. and Brazilian School Textbooks”

Article courtesy of the Avery Research Center

The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade was the largest forced migration in human history and is critical to understanding the complexity of the history of slavery and indeed the history of the Atlantic world. This enterprise, based on racism, violence, and greed was responsible for the dispersal of millions of enslaved Africans throughout the Americas.

Continue reading Nafees Khan, “The Presentation of the Atlantic Slave Trade in U.S. and Brazilian School Textbooks”

Wells Fargo Distinguished Public Lecture Series, Richard Price: “Marronage, Maroonage, and Maroons”

The CLAW program, in collaboration with Wells Fargo, was pleased to host Dr. Richard Price, Professor Emeritus of American Studies at the College of William and Mary, as the first of this semester’s Wells Fargo Distinguished Public Lectures and the keynote speaker for the 2016 conference on maroonage. Dr. Price is a pioneering figure in the field of ethnographic history in general and of maroonage in particular. Continue reading Wells Fargo Distinguished Public Lecture Series, Richard Price: “Marronage, Maroonage, and Maroons”