USCB Historian Leads Reconstruction Seminar

USCB Historian Leads National Endowment for the Humanities Reconstruction Seminar in Beaufort

July 24, 2017

BEAUFORT, S.C. – With the support of its second $200,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the University of South Carolina Beaufort has gathered some of academia's finest historians and scholars to teach a three-week summer institute, "America's Reconstruction: The Untold Story" for 25 K-12 teachers from around the country who competed to participate.

USCB Reconstruction Summer Institute

The institute's final presentation in the three-week series, delivered by Edward L. Ayers, Ph.D., will be open to the public on Saturday, July 29, at 9 a.m. at the USCB Center for the Arts, 805 Carteret St.

The summer institute, which takes place from July 9 through July 29, is being hosted by USCB in partnership with the City of Beaufort, the University of South Carolina College of Education, the Mitchelville Preservation Project and the Historic Penn Center. Classes are being held on USCB's Beaufort campus.  They are enhanced by an active program of visits to key Reconstruction sites, and original writings and artwork of the period.  The institute will guide the teachers through more than a century of American history—from the final years of the cotton kingdom in the South, through the Civil War and Reconstruction, and up to the modern civil rights era.

"The Reconstruction Era was literally a period of rebuilding," says J. Brent Morris, Ph.D., associate professor of history and chair of the Humanities department at USCB. Dr. Morris, project director of the summer institute, spent a year planning the 2017 institute. His research and academic interests involve 19th century United States history; South Carolina history; slavery, abolition and antislavery; the Civil War and Reconstruction; and African-American history. USCB hosted a very successful similar summer institute—also funded by the NEH and directed by Dr. Morris—in the summer of 2015.

"The Reconstruction Era entailed the reshaping of the ideologies of the defeated Old South and the physical reconstruction of the region so devastated by the ravages of war, and, as a nation, developing policies that thoroughly remade and modernized America and laid the foundation for the 'Second Reconstruction'—the Civil Rights Movements of the 1950s and 1960s," he adds.

Alternating between lecture and experience, the teachers, selected by a panel of judges from 120 applicants, are visiting key Reconstruction sites: St. Helena Island, Port Royal, Mitchelville on Hilton Head Island, Charleston and Sapelo Island, Ga.

To assemble the institute faculty, Dr. Morris called upon some of the finest historians on American college and university campuses today. Specifically, he sought professors whose academic interests focus on the Civil War Era, Reconstruction and the African-American experience. Some of the national leaders in the field who are participating in the program are:

  • Lawrence S. Rowland, Ph.D., distinguished professor emeritus of history at the University of South Carolina Beaufort and former president of the South Carolina Historical Society. Dr. Rowland is the author of "The History of Beaufort County, South Carolina, Vol. I, 1514-1861," with Alexander Moore and George C. Rogers Jr., 1996; "Window on the Atlantic: The Rise and Fall of Santa Elena, South Carolina Spanish City," (1990); and "The History of Beaufort County, South Carolina, Vol. II and Vol. III, 1861-1990," with Stephen R. Wise and Gerhard Spieler, 2015. Dr. Rowland delivered the opening address, covering the period of Beaufort's history up to the Civil War
  • Stephen R. Wise, Ph.D., director of the Parris Island Museum and cultural resources manager for the Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island. He is the author of "Lifeline of the Confederacy: Blockade Running During the Civil War;" "Gate of Hell: The Campaign for Charleston Harbor 1863." He collaborated with Dr. Rowland on the recently published "Rebellion, Reconstruction and Redemption: The History of Beaufort County 1861-1893," 2015. Dr. Wise's remarks covered the Civil War and the beginning of Reconstruction. He then led a tour of Mitchelville.
  • Page Miller, Ph.D., site historian for the Reconstruction Institute. Dr. Miller formerly served as the Distinguished Visiting Lecturer in the History department at the University of South Carolina. She is the author of several books and has won multiple awards, including the American Historical Association's Troyer Steele Anderson Prize. She led a walking tour of Reconstruction sites in Beaufort.
  • Orville Vernon Burton, Ph.D., creativity professor of humanities, professor of history, sociology and computer science at Clemson University. He is also Director of the Clemson University CyberInstitute. Until 2010, he was the Burroughs Distinguished Professor of Southern History and Culture at Coastal Carolina University. He was the Founding Director of the Institute for Computing in Humanities, Arts and Social Science at the University of Illinois, where he serves as Emeritus University Distinguished Teacher/Scholar, University Scholar, and Professor of History, African American Studies, and Sociology. Following his lecture on the Penn Center, the group toured the facility.
  • Bernard Powers, Ph.D., former department chair and director of the M.A. History Program at the College of Charleston. He has published many distinguished works on African-American social and cultural evolution. His major work is "Black Charlestonians:A Social History 1822-1885," 1994. It won a Choice Award for the Best Academic Books. Dr. Powers delivered a lecture in Charleston on the passage of the black middle class from slavery to Reconstruction.
  • Joshua Brown, Ph.D., executive director of the American Social History Project/Center for Media and Learning, and professor of history at the City University of New York Graduate Center. He was a visual essayist of "Forever Free: The Story of Emancipation and Reconstruction," 2005, among other works. He is writing a book-length study of the visual culture of the Civil War. He has received fellowships from the National endowment for the Humanities, the American Council of Learned Societies, and the Guggenheim Foundation.
  • Daisy Martin, Ph.D., the Lead Scholar on finding and teaching with primary source Documents. She is Director of History Performance Assessment at the Stanford Center for Assessment, Learning and Equity. She teaches in the Stanford University and U.C. Santa Cruz Teacher Educator Programs. She has guided the teachers through the original source material of the Reconstruction Era—the journals, diaries and letters of the former slaves.
  • avid W. Blight, Ph.D., class of 1954 professor of American History and director of the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance and Abolition. A teacher, scholar and public historian, Dr. Blight serves as one of only a handful of advisors to the 9/11 Memorial and Museum team of curators. The author of multiple books on the Civil War and Reconstruction Era, Dr. Blight's book, "Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory,"earned eight book awards, including the Bancroft Prize, the Abraham Lincoln Prize, and the Frederick Douglass Prize, plus four awards from the Organization of American Historians. Dr. Blight delivered the keynote address July 9.
  • Melissa Cooper, Ph.D., assistant professor of history at the Newark College of Arts and Sciences, Rutgers University. Dr. Cooper's specialty is African-American cultural and Intellectual history. She is the author of "Making Gullah: A History of Sapelo Islanders, Race, and the American Imagination," published by the University of North Carolina Press.
  • Heather Cox Richardson, Ph.D., professor of history at Boston College. Her area of academic Interest involves bridging the gap between professional historians and the public. She is Working with two educational consulting firms to train secondary school teachers and conduct Public historical seminars, much like "America's Reconstruction: The Untold Story." She is the Author of several books, including "West from Appomattox: The Reconstruction of America After the Civil War."
  • Edward L. Ayers, Ph.D. Dr. Ayers is President Emeritus of the University of Richmond, where he serves as Tucker-Boatright Professor of the Humanities. He was formerly Dean of Arts and Sciences at the University of Virginia. A renowned historian of the American South, Dr. Ayers has written and edited 10 books. He was named the National Professor of the Year by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching in 2003.


Located in the heart of the Carolina Sea Islands, the University of South Carolina Beaufort (USCB) is a baccalaureate member of the USC system, serving the southeast coast of South Carolina and Georgia. Since 2002, USCB has tripled its academic degree programs, doubled its FTE enrollment, opened its first on-campus housing (now serving more than 900), joined the NAIA Sun Conference, and fielded conference and national award-winning Sand Shark athletes in nine sports. The university's two campuses serve a diverse student body of 2,000 students. The Hilton Head Gateway campus in Bluffton, SC, offers cutting-edge Computational Science and Nursing laboratories, and a broad range of academic degree programs. The Historic Beaufort campus, located on Beaufort's downtown waterfront, houses an innovative baccalaureate Studio Art program in close proximity to Beaufort's many art galleries. The University of South Carolina Beaufort offers students an exceptional place to learn and live in an environment focused on growth, preservation and opportunity.

For more information about the summer seminar, visit

For more information about the University of South Carolina Beaufort, contact Kerry Jarvis, public information coordinator, at 843-208-8030 or