University of South Carolina

University historian awarded NEH grant to create documentary edition

Dr. Constance Schulz, professor emeritus of history at the University of South Carolina, has been awarded a $200,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to digitize the papers of two prominent South Carolina women, Eliza Lucas Pinckney and her daughter, Harriett Pinckney Horry.

When completed, the project will give scholars, students and history enthusiasts a colorful and insightful look into South Carolina and American history, from 1739 – 1830, through the eyes of two influential women.

Pinckney and Horry were known for their management of multiple, large coastal plantations and for developing crops that led to the establishment of America’s early textile industry. Pinckey, born in 1722, is credited with having developed techniques to cultivate and manufacture indigo, which became a lucrative chief crop in South Carolina and early America. She and Horry also cultivated mulberry trees, which yielded silk.

“The correspondence and journals of Eliza Lucas Pinckney and Harriett Pinckney Horry illuminate colonial and early national plantation management and crop development to support the burgeoning textile industry, political struggles and the lives of patriots,” said Schulz who is working from letters, diaries, journals, government records and maps.

“This is the first time a digital edition has been created for an important South Carolina figure of any time period,” said Schulz. “Digital projects bring history to life in marvelous ways because they can be expanded with newfound documents, scholarly annotation and index searches.”

Schulz and her research team, which includes three part-time editors, is working with Thomas Pinckney, who lives at Fairfield Plantation on the Santee River, the plantation home that has been in the Pinckney family since Eliza Pinckney’s son, Thomas, acquired it by marriage in 1779. In the fall Pinckney and Schulz met at the Library of Congress, where they reviewed nearly two dozen boxes of Pinckney family papers. Staff at Hampton Plantation Historic Site, the plantation on Wambaw Creek in Charleston County where Horry and her husband Daniel Huger Horry lived, also are supporting the project.

The material Schulz has amassed for the digital edition is extensive. Letters span those written by Eliza Lucas Pinckney to her father, George Lucas, in 1739, to those written by her daughter, Harriett Pinckney Horry, until her death in 1830. They include Pinckney’s letter books, which contain the dates of her letters, as well as drafts of her correspondence. Also included are both women’s receipt (recipe) books and Pinckney’s recordings of her religious self-examinations, prayers and resolutions.

Schulz said two journals written by Horry describe two six-month journeys, which give valuable insights into 18th-century medicine and early 19th-century industry. The first, written in 1793, describes her trip with her mother, who had breast cancer, to see a Philadelphia surgeon. The second, from 1815, tells of a trip to Portsmouth, N.H., to visit her grandson, Edward Rutledge, and details her observations of the operations of textile mills, iron foundries and steam boats.

More than 200 letters written by Horry’s brothers, Thomas and Charles, convey the importance and influence of the two women. A copy of the will of Horry’s husband, probated in 1786, provides a complete inventory of the Hampton Plantation house and contents, lands and slaves.

The bulk of materials are from holdings in the South Carolina Historical Society and the Library of Congress. Other materials are from the South Caroliniana Library, Georgia Historical Society and libraries at the University of North Carolina and Duke University.

This winter, Schulz will travel to England in search of correspondence from Pinckney written during the five years that she and her husband, Charles Pinckney, lived there. She plans to scour holdings at the London Metropolitan Archives and the National Archives of Britain, as well as local historical society records and county records in the south of England.

By Office of Media Relations

Posted: 01/13/09 @ 12:00 AM | Updated: 01/13/09 @ 12:00 AM | Permalink