CLIO’S CURATION: Summer 2022

a digest of news covering living history, storytelling and museology

Dear Reader,

I hope you’re enjoying your Summer!

I’ve decided to make this newsletter quarterly so that I have time to write other things.    However, I regularly share posts on my Facebook and Twitter pages.    Let me know if you have events, stories or initiatives that you’d like me to promote.

Also, I’m going to focus on news from South Carolina and the southeast.     Most of my readers live in my neck of the woods!

Here’s what got my attention this week:

LIVING HISTORY

  • Visit the Slave Dwelling Project at Magnolia Plantation in Charleston this weekend; you can RSVP here.   Plus, save the date for the SDP Conference on September 8-10.
  • Attend a Family Camping Weekend  at Morning Glory Farmstead.    The next ones are July 22-24 and August 19-21 and feature experiential activities and the history of Dr. George Washington Carver.
  • Immerse yourself in a frontier encampment at Oconee Station State Historic Site on August 20.    Be sure to ask about Cherokee history there!

STORYTELLING

MUSEOLOGY

That’s what caught my eye!    Do you know of something else I should promote on social media?    Please let me know.

If you like what you see in this newsletter and haven’t already signed up,  please consider getting on my email list, liking me on Facebook and following me on Twitter

Very truly yours,

Sara Damewood

“Conversations with Clio”

CLIO’S CURATION – June 2022

a digest of news covering living history, storytelling and museology

Dear Reader,

It’s time for Juneteenth celebrations!    You can find them everywhere.    Try looking for flyers on your local NAACP Facebook page, and notice that many events are planned for a weekend but others are offered throughout the month.     

Although Juneteenth is now a national holiday, many folks don’t know much about it.   Here’s some background information to share with your family and friends.

LIVING HISTORY

  • Several Juneteenth events will be held at historical parks on Saturday, June 18;   Historic Mitchelville Freedom Park (Hilton Head Island, SC), HIstoric Brattonsville (Rock HIll, SC), and Historic Stagville (Durham, NC) are a few.
  • Redcliffe Plantation State Historic Site will offer their “Resistance!” tour every week on Thursday and Friday.     This is a “no-holds barred” discussion of how enslaved people resisted slavery.
  • Go to Rose HIll Plantation State Historic Site “In the Dark of the NIght” to learn about how enslaved individuals would use the cover of dark to escape with only the stars to navigate their way.   The event is on June 25, but you must register by June 21.

STORYTELLING

MUSEOLOGY

That’s what caught my eye!    Do you know of something else I should promote on social media?    Please let me know.

If you like what you see in this newsletter and haven’t already signed up,  please consider getting on my email list, liking me on Facebook and following me on Twitter

Very truly yours,

Sara Damewood

“Conversations with Clio”

CLIO’S CURATION – May 2022

a digest of news covering living history, storytelling and museology

Dear Reader,

May is a wonderful time to get out and explore!     Clio (the muse of history) inspired me to find a few things that might interest you, including some virtual opportunities.

If you like what you see in this newsletter and haven’t already signed up,  please consider getting on my email list, liking me on Facebook and following me on Twitter

LIVING HISTORY

  • Congratulations to Joe McGill and the Slave Dwelling Project for 12 years of raising awareness about slavery and the legacy of slavery.     Join Joe as he marks that 12th anniversary by sleeping in the same cabin where he spent the night in May of 2010!   Registration is required.
  • Historic Brattonsville will be having a series of Saturday events related to sheep sheering, including the processing and use of the wool.     This was largely women’s work!    Also, Brattonsville is one of the few living history sites with African American interpreters.
  • I always like to peek at what Colonial Williamsburg is doing.    Please note that their “Nation Builders” series includes some special opportunities for donors.   It is about persons who “contributed to our American story in a significant and remarkable way.”   That includes Reverend Gowan and Edith Cumbo.   You might like to check out “Freedom’s Paradox,”  “Measure of a Man’s Worth,” “A Determined Spirit,” “What Holds the Future” and “Voices of their Hands.”     Also, notice the American Indian Life series as well as several events telling the history of treatment for mental illness.

STORYTELLING

  • The Kuumba Storytellers of Georgia are having their 15th annual Mama Tales  (online) event “All Because of You” on Sunday, May 15 from 3-5 p.m. EST.    
  • On May 28, the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians is inviting you to a Cherokee Customer Celebration.    They plan to say “sgi” (or “thank you”) with authentic storytelling, Cherokee craftspeople, face painting, traditional dancing, clogging and music.
  • Meanwhile, on St Helena Island, Morning Glory Homestead is hosting a “Decoration Day Celebration” on May 28 at 7 p.m.    It’s a Gullah Campfire Supper with Stories and Songs.    Registration is required.
  • Are you a wannabe storyteller?     Consider the North Carolina Storytelling Guild’s “TELL IT LIKE IT IS” Story Swaps via Zoom.    They offer the opportunity for practice and feedback.

MUSEOLOGY

  • Join the International African American Museum’s Fireside Chat with Clint Smith, author of the #1 New York Times bestseller “How the World is Passed:  a Reckoning with the History of Slavery Across America.”
  • Chautauqua (in Greenville, SC) will be offering a hybrid event about Georgia O’Keeffe on May 10.    It’s not a costumed performance but a talk led by art historian Martha Severens.
  • Finally, if you’re in my neck of the woods, maybe you’d like to attend the May 19 fundraiser for the Lexington County Museum and learn about the medical history of Lexington County! All funds go toward the restoration of the museum’s outbuildings, including those associated with slavery.

That’s what caught my eye!    Let me know if you have something you’d like me to share on social media. 

If you like what you see in this newsletter and haven’t already signed up,  please consider getting on my email list, liking me on Facebook and following me on Twitter

Very truly yours,

Sara Damewood

“Conversations with Clio”

CLIO’S CURATION – April 2022

a digest of news covering living history, storytelling and museology

Dear Reader,

Happy Spring!     It’s a good time to attend outdoor events.    I’ll be highlighting a few.

If you like what you see in this newsletter and haven’t already signed up,  please consider getting on my email list, liking me on Facebook and following me on Twitter

LIVING HISTORY

STORYTELLING

  • Don’t miss the opening of the International Gullah Film Festival on April 1 and 2!    It will also be available for virtual viewing April 1-16.
  • Also on April 1-2 is an amazing bargain for storytelling lovers:   the Georgia Mountain Storyfest.  It will be online and only $10 for your entire family.     Streaming videos will be available to you for 30 days.
  • The Stone Soup Festival in Woodruff, SC will be held in-person and virtually on April 21-24.    Looks like they’ll have some great storytellers from all over the country!

MUSEOLOGY

Want something to do on a rainy day?   Museums throughout the Southeast have some fascinating exhibits!

And that’s not all folks!    Let me know if you have something you’d like me to share on social media. 

If you like what you see in this newsletter and haven’t already signed up,  please consider getting on my email list, liking me on Facebook and following me on Twitter

Very truly yours,

Sara Damewood

“Conversations with Clio”

CLIO’S CURATION – March 2022

a digest of news covering living history, storytelling and museology

Dear Reader,

Happy Women’s History Month!    I’ll be highlighting a few events and exhibits to help you celebrate. 

Also, I’m pleased to announce that I’ll be collaborating with Joe McGill to offer a Virtual Campfire Conversation on Friday, March 18 from 7-8:30 p.m.  Mr. McGill is the founder of The Slave Dwelling Project, Inc.,  a non-profit organization which develops resources to preserve African American slave dwellings and which promotes a more truthful and inclusive narrative about our national history and the contributions of African-Americans.   Following an introduction, there will be time for questions and conversation about slavery and the legacy it left on this nation.   RSVP now to reserve your spot in the circle.

If you like what you see in this newsletter and haven’t already signed up,  please consider getting on my email list, liking me on Facebook and following me on Twitter

LIVING HISTORY

  • On Saturday, March 26, Morning Glory Homestead Farm is offering a program called “Women of the Movement,” which is part of their Civil Rights Movement series.
  • Check out the Slave Dwelling Project event page.     Joe McGill will be at Hobcaw Barony on March 11-12, at our virtual campfire on March 18 and at the Van Cortlandt House Museum on March 26-27.
  • Historic Brattonsville will hold an event this Saturday, March 5  to help you learn what life was like in York County, South Carolina after emancipation;   you can buy tickets online now or at the visitor’s center to attend Reconstruction in York County.
  • This is a great time of the year to visit Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia.   They have some amazing programs planned for Women’s History Month.    In particular, look at their events called the “Women and the Law Tours,” “The Comet Huntress,” “She Had on When She Went Away,” “Good Progress” and “Succordia’s Prayer.”

STORYTELLING

MUSEOLOGY

That’s just a sampling of what caught my eye!

Finally, if you haven’t already, check out my blog post “Lucille Sang ‘We:’ ‘We Will Overcome.”   I’m still hopeful that we’ll get some answers about Lucille.

Let me know your thoughts; you can email me at saraofsc@yahoo.com.    Also, please consider signing up for my email list, liking me on Facebook and following me on Twitter

Very truly yours,

Sara Damewood

“Conversations with Clio”

CLIO’S CURATION – February 2022

a digest of news covering living history, storytelling and museology

Dear Reader,

Happy Black History Month!    I’ll be highlighting a few people, places and events to help you celebrate.    

If you like what you see and haven’t already signed up,  please consider getting on my email list, liking me on Facebook and following me on Twitter

LIVING HISTORY

  • Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia has an impressive array of in-person events planned for February.    Their first-person interpretation is outstanding.
  • Here in South Carolina, Historic Brattonsville is hosting Saturday events on a range of topics, including foodways, trades, daily life, arts and culture.
  • On February 5, Historic Mitchelville (at Hilton Head, SC) will host a Freedom walk in honor of National Freedom Day.
  • Did you know that February 14 (Valentine’s Day) is also Douglas Day?   It’s a day of collective love and action for Black History.
  • On February 17-18 The Slave Dwelling Project will be doing Living History Days at historic Magnolia Plantation in Charleston, SC.
  • On February 26, head to Martin Luther King Jr. Park in Columbia, SC for a Black History Parade and Festival.

STORYTELLING

MUSEOLOGY

That’s just a sampling of what’s going on this month!

Finally, check out my new blog post “Lucille Sang ‘We:’ ‘We Will Overcome.”

Let me know your thoughts; you can email me at saraofsc@yahoo.com.    Also, please consider signing up for my email list, liking me on Facebook and following me on Twitter

Very truly yours,

Sara Damewood

“Conversations with Clio”

Lucille Sang “We.” “We Will Overcome.”

I’m so happy to hear that “We Shall Overcome” is now in the public domain.    From what I’ve read, our iconic American song has a convoluted history with uncertain origins.

I made a pilgrimage to Charleston, South Carolina on a dreary December day, hoping to soak up some of that history by visiting the Cigar Factory on East Bay Street.     Now the enormous building houses an assortment of businesses, restaurants and an event venue.    It was constructed in 1881 as a cotton mill, but in 1945 it was The American Tobacco Company.    That Fall and Winter, workers organized to strike for a 25-cent pay raise, six days of sick leave and better working conditions.    Many of the women of both races also wanted a desegregated factory floor.

Young Lucille Simmons was among them and played a vital role.

I was glad that it was raining.     I wanted to experience that sacred place the way the strikers did; they showed up day after day in all kinds of weather.

Lucille was a member of the choir at Jerusalem Baptist Church, and she tried to lift the picketers spirits by leading them in singing.    In particular, she liked an old hymn to which she put new words.    This is where the history gets murky.    The song Lucille sang could have been derived from Louise Shropshire’s “If My Jesus Wills” and an older spiritual named “I’ll be Alright Someday” or Charles Tindley’s “I’ll Overcome Someday.”    Google those songs on YouTube and see what you think.

Lucille insisted that everyone sing every day despite their fatigue and discouragement and the unpleasant weather, and she led by singing “we,” “we will overcome.”    She sang it slow and anthem-like.   There were verses like “We will be alright,” “We will win our rights,” “We will win this fight.”

They were on strike for five months before getting an eight-cent raise and returning to work.

Someone brought Lucille’s version of “We will overcome” to the Highlander Folk School in Grundy County, Tennessee.    There Zilphia Horton taught it to Pete Seeger, who thought that “will” should be changed to “shall” because the latter opened up the singer’s mouth.   For more about that, read “A Singing Army:   Zilphia Horton and the Highlander Folk School” by Kim Ruehl.

Personally, I wish they had kept “will!”

Now, wouldn’t you think that Lucille Simmons’ family would be talking and writing about this?    As far as I can tell, nobody knows Lucille’s history following the strike.    Could she have been the American politician Lucille Simmons Whipper who died last August?    Ms. Whipper was the first woman of color to be elected to the South Carolina General Assembly, and she has done some remarkable things; so, why not lift up her story in it’s own right?

I’m not a professional historian (only a passionate hobbyist) and don’t have the skill for this kind of investigation, but I’m pretty sure that one of you does.    Please find out?    For Lucille?    For America?

CLIO’S CURATION – January 2022

a digest of news covering living history, storytelling and museology

Dear Reader,

Happy New Year and Happy Emancipation Day in Charleston, South Carolina!

This is the first edition of my monthly newsletter for history buffs.   It will include links and information about selected upcoming events, initiatives and exhibits.   I’ll also suggest some timeless ideas for tourism or armchair travel.

You’ll notice that many of these are close to my home in South Carolina, but (in future newsletters) I’ll gradually expand my coverage. 

I have an ulterior motive.   I want to raise awareness about history that is often overlooked but that needs to be told, stories about African Americans, Native Americans, LGBTQ folks, women and others who are often not included in the dominant historical narrative. 

Also, this is my debut into travel article writing.    So, I’d like to grow a list of followers on my blog “Conversations with Clio:   Travel Essays for History Buffs,” which will include these monthly newsletters, occasional blog posts and links to my published articles.    Please consider signing up for my email list, liking me on Facebook and following me on Twitter

Are you concerned about traveling during this pandemic?   This is a good month for outdoor and virtual activities!    Let me give you some ideas.

LIVING HISTORY

STORYTELLING

MUSEOLOGY

WHAT DID I MISS?

Let me know your thoughts; you can email me at saraofsc@yahoo.com.    Also, please consider signing up for my email list, liking me on Facebook and following me on Twitter

Very truly yours,

Sara Damewood

“Conversations with Clio”

WHEN OUR CAUSE IT IS JUST

Ashley-Willis House

I’ve lived my entire life in the South, but I love the story of Sherman’s “march to the sea” and through the Carolinas.    After watching several episodes of Ken Burns’ “Civil War,” I was ready for the war to be over with.   In my mind, it is better to destroy infrastructure than men.

 

Not all southerners agree with me, of course.   Still, I think most of us are glad the Union prevailed and that slavery was abolished.    There are those who speak of the Civil War in terms of the South’s right to secede and even talk of seceding again if states’ rights aren’t honored.    Regardless of any logic in that point of view, I can tell you that (if South Carolina goes that route again) I’ll be organizing my neighborhood to secede from South Carolina!

 

So, I have this fascination with just causes and what will make our nation a “more perfect union” as our US Constitution emboldens us to achieve.

 

That was on my mind the day I headed for Williston, SC to attend my friend’s brother’s funeral.   It was a town I hadn’t visited before, so I did a little research ahead of time and came early to explore.

 

Williston is located in the middle southern part of our state in the center of the Charleston-Hamburg railroad line, one of the largest railroads in the world when it was completed in 1833 and the first one in the United States to be powered entirely by steam.    In 1865, it was an important line for the confederacy and a target in General Sherman’s strategy of destroying confederate transportation.    Sherman’s troops heated railway rails until they were malleable and then twisted them into loops like neckties, often around trees.

 

Bowties!    Where are they now?   Buried around trees?   In museums?   I want to see one.

 

I didn’t get to see one of those neckties while I was in Williston, but what I did discover was even more interesting.     Having lunch at the “Meeting on Main,” the owner (Bob Cothran) came out to talk to me.    A local told him I was asking about history, and he’s the unofficial town historian.    He told me where to find the Ashley-Willis house (which General Fitzpatrick used as his headquarters during General Sherman’s army’s march through South Carolina) and he told me the story of the Elijah Willis family.

 

Elijah Willis was a wealthy, white plantation owner, who fell in love with his slave Amy.    He moved Amy and their children to Ohio to free them, and he re-wrote his will to leave his fortune to them.

 

Bob Cothran told me he received a phone call one day from a woman, “asking questions” just like me.    This made me shiver.    She was a descendant of Elijah Willis.    It wasn’t long before a “union” (not a “reunion,” because this was a first for Elijah’s descendants) was planned in Williston.   Bob described the gathering of several generations of this American family, walking around the grounds… some of them with walkers.

 

I’ll tell you what;   I want to look at photos of that “union” even more than I want to see one of Sherman’s “neckties.”