The Mellon Foundation has awarded the College of Charleston’s Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture a $2 million grant to support the collection and preservation of the Lowcountry’s social and cultural history.
“This grant is a true difference maker for the College’s Avery Research Center and our entire campus,” Andrew T. Hsu, president of the College of Charleston, said in a university news release. “The Mellon Foundation has an incredibly strong legacy of helping to build just communities, with their significant investments to enhance a dialogue of ideas and bolster imaginations. I am excited to see how this grant will accelerate and expand the important work of the Avery Research Center’s staff as well as its immediate impact on our greater community in Charleston.”
The funding, says Tamara T. Butler, executive director of the Avery Research Center, will allow the center to explore and share new and rich cultural histories.
“This grant emphasizes our commitment to preserving and promoting the Avery Research Center’s histories,” she said in the news release. “We are overjoyed about the opportunity to tell stories about our 160-year-old evolution. I am grateful for this team of phenomenal scholars. This grant is only possible because of dynamic faculty, supportive leadership and committed staff.”
Funding will allow the Avery Research Center to broaden the reach of their archival collections through training/professional development and community outreach. Desired outcomes include processing and digitizing selected historic manuscript and audiovisual collections from the Avery Research Center for public use, and increased community engagement in the center’s archives and programming.
“Receiving this grant is significant as it denotes that the Mellon Foundation sees the value in preserving and promoting the histories of African American education in the Lowcountry,” Aaisha Haykal, Avery Research Center’s manager of archival services, said in the release. “Providing access to currently unprocessed collections will help scholars, artists and educators explore the histories of spaces and places Black communities have used for a liberatory education. Furthermore, this grant will provide training opportunities for new professionals to gain experience in the cultural heritage profession.”
The center collects, preserves and promotes the history and culture of the African diaspora, with an emphasis on Charleston and the Lowcountry.
By Ashlie Puma