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Walter Edgar's Journal

South Carolina Public Radio

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From books to barbecue, and current events to Colonial history, historian and author Walter Edgar delves into the arts, culture, and history of South Carolina and the American South. Produced by South Carolina Public Radio.
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One of the Davis brothers who operated the Davis Battery Electric company in Greenville, 1930. (Courtesy of Bobbie Jean Rovner, Greenville) This week we will be talking with Diane Vecchio about her book, Peddlers, Merchants, and Manufacturers: How Jewish Entrepreneurs Built Economy and Community in Upcountry South Carolina (2024, USC…
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Cover illustration from Payne-ful Business: Charleston’s Journey to Truth (2024, Evening Post Books)(Painting by John W. Jones) Margaret Seidler thought she knew her family’s history. Then, a genealogical search on-line led her to connect with a cousin who, unlike Margaret, was Black. Determined to find as much as she could about her lineage…
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In 1976, the Cowpens, SC, Bicentennial Committee decided that the next town festival would be called the Mighty Moo Festival in honor of former crewmen of the USS Cowpens WWII aircraft carrier. Over the years since, many veterans who served on the ship during the war have attended the festival along with their families. Today, the town continues to…
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Two of four slave cabins restored at Magnolia Plantation and Gardens in Charleston. May 17, 2023(Victoria Hansen / South Carolina Public Radio) This week we're talking with Joseph McGill and Herb Frazier, authors of Sleeping with the Ancestors: How I Followed the Footprints of Slavery. Since founding the Slave Dwelling Project in 2010, Joseph McGil…
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Bombardment of Fort Sumter(Artist unknown / From the collections of Fort Sumter Fort Moultrie National Historical Park) This week we'll be talking with Richard Hatcher, author of the book, Thunder in the Harbor: Fort Sumter and the Civil War. Construction of Fort Sumter in Charleston harbor began after British forces captured and occupied Washingto…
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The 1768 Charleston lighthouse( Courtesy of Kevin Duffus) This week, we'll be talking with author Kevin Duffus about his book, The 1768 Charleston Lighthouse : Finding the Light in the Fog of History. Charleston’s first lighthouse was established on Middle Bay Island in 1768. The history of the lighthouse, however, has been lost in a fog of misinfo…
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Casper George Garrett and Anna Marie Garrett, who are known in the book as Papa and Mama, are seen with four of their children, circa 1897. (Courtesy David Nicholson) In his book, The Garretts of Columbia: A Black South Carolina Family from Slavery to the Dawn of Integration, David Nicholson tells the story of his great-grandparents, Casper George …
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Boston Tea Party, State House Mural, Boston, Mass.(Detroit Publishing Company postcards / NY Public Library) On the Journal this week we will be talking with Robert James Fichter about his book, Tea: Consumption, Politics, and Revolution, 1773–1776. Fitcher says that despite the so-called Boston Tea Party in 1773, two large shipments of tea from th…
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This week we talk with Claudia Smith Brinson about her new book, Injustice in Focus: The Civil Rights Photography of Cecil Williams (2023, USC Press). Claudia's rich research, interviews, and prose, offer a firsthand account of South Carolina's fight for civil rights and tells the story of Cecil Williams's life behind the camera. The book also feat…
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A statue of Pedro Menéndez de Avilés, the founder of St. Augustine, stands outside the Lightner Museum.(Joe Shlabotnik / Flickr) In this episode, we'll talk with Prof. Kevin Kokomoor about his book, La Florida: Catholics, Conquistadores, and Other American Origin Stories. Spanish sailors discovering the edges of a new continent, greedy, viol…
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George Singleton This week we have a fun conversation with author George Singleton about his new book Asides: Occasional Essays on Dogs, Food, Restaurants, Bars, Hangovers, Jobs, Music, Family Trees, Robbery, Relationships, Being Brought Up Questionably, Et Cetera. It's a collection of fascinating and curious essays, in which Singleton explains how…
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Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim synagogue( www.kkbe.org) Founded in 1749, Charleston, South Carolina's (KKBE) is one of the oldest congregations in America, and is known as the birthplace of American Reform Judaism. Their sanctuary is the oldest in continuous use for Jewish worship in America. The congregation's president, Naomi Gorstein, and Harlan Green…
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"Law enforcement officers stand beside a captured moonshine still"(National Park Service) This week we'll be talking with Kathryn Smith, author of Methodists & Moonshiners: Another Prohibition Expedition Through the South…with Cocktail Recipes (2023, Evening Post Books). In her follow-up to 2021's Baptists and Bootleggers, Kathryn once again hit th…
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Photo illustration from a postcard, Camp Sevier, Greenville, SC; World War I(Special Collections and University Archives, Furman University) Greenville, South Carolina, has become an attractive destination, frequently included in lists of the "Best Small Cities" in America. But, the city's growth and renewal started over 100 years ago, during a rem…
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Mules on Church Street, Charleston, SC( Library of Congress) This episode we'll be talking with Christina Rae Butler about Charleston, SC: an equine-powered city - from colonial times to the 20th century - in which horses and mules pervaded all aspects of urban life. And we’ll learn about the people who made their living with these animals—from dri…
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Kosher collards and kugel.(Forrest Clonts) On this edition of The Journal, Rachel Gordin Barnett and Lyssa Kligman Harvey tell some of the stories and recipes from their book, Kugels & Collards: Stories of Food, Family, and Tradition in Jewish South Carolina (2023, USC Press). In the book, Lyssa and Rachel celebrate the unique and diverse food hist…
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The international African American Museum at Gadsden's Wharf in Charleston is scheduled to open June 27, 2023.(IAAM / Provided) This week we will talk with Dr. Bernard Powers about the establishment of the International African American Museum in Charleston, SC. Bernie powers is professor emeritus of history at the College of Charleston and is dire…
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Group of Union officers who escaped from Confederate prison at Columbia, S.C., in the fall of '64 also three guides procured in the mountains of Tennessee.(Library of Congress ) In Captured Freedom (2023, Steve Procko), author Steve Procko tells the true story of nine Union prisoners-of-war who escaped from a Confederate prison in Columbia, South C…
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In 1722, Mark Catesby stepped ashore in Charles Town in the Carolina colony. Over the next four years, this young naturalist made history as he explored America’s natural wonders, collecting and drawing plants and animals which had never been seen back in the Old World. Nine years later Catesby produced his magnificent and groundbreaking book, The …
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Arthur and Joel Springarn( Arthur Springarn: Library of Congress; Joel Springarn: unknown) In her book, The Spingarn Brothers: White Privilege, Jewish Heritage, and the Struggle for Racial Equality (2023, Johns Hopkins University), Katherine Reynolds Chaddock tells a story that many today might see as unlikely: two Jewish brothers in New York, priv…
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Dr. Eric Crawford(Travis Bell / Courtesy of Dr. Crawford) This week, Dr. Eric Crawford, a Gullah/Geechee scholar and Associate Professor of Musicology at Claflin University in Orangeburg, joins us to talk about Gullah culture and about editing a second edition of the late Dr. Wilbur Cross’ book, Gullah Culture in America (Blair, 2022). The book chr…
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Adam Parker(Mark Stetler / Courtesy of Adam Parker) Veteran journalist Adam Parker has covered just about everything for The Charleston Post and Courier, though he has spent most of his time writing about race, religion, and the arts. Us: A Journalist's Look at the Culture, Conflict and Creativity of the South (2022, Evening Post Books) is a collec…
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"Treaty with the Creeks"( NY Public Library Digital Collections - The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Picture Collection) The Creek War is one of the most tragic episodes in American history, leading to the greatest loss of Native American life on what is now U.S. soil. Peter Cozzens, author of A Brutal Reckoning:…
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Ben Beard(Courtesy of the author) In his book, The South Never Plays Itself, author, and film critic Ben Beard explores the history of the Deep South on screen, beginning with silent cinema and ending in the streaming era, from President Wilson to President Trump, from musical to comedy to horror to crime to melodrama. Opinionated, obsessive, sweep…
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John Martin Taylor( Courtesy of the author) Charleston, South Carolina’s John Martin Taylor is a culinary historian and cookbook author. His first book, Hoppin' John's Lowcountry Cooking, has been continuously in print for thirty years, and his writing has appeared in publications including the New York Times, Washington Post, and Gastronomica. Wit…
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"Marion Crossing the Pedee"( William T. Ranney (1813 - 1857) / On loan from Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth, Texas, to the Florence County Museum, Florence, SC ) In this episode Ben Zeigler and Stephen Motte from the Florence County Museum in Florence, SC, talk with us about the legend of Revolutionary War hero Francis Marion. The cu…
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Cecil Williams( Cecil Williams South Carolina Civil Rights Museum ) Acclaimed civil rights photographer Cecil Williams, founder of the Cecil Williams South Carolina Civil Rights Museum talks with us this this time, along with Jannie Harriot, the museum’s Executive Director. Cecil began photographing the events and people of the Civil Rights era in …
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The hardened frontiersmen Patrick Ferguson challenged - portrayed here on a marker at Kings Mountain National Military Park - proved more than he could handle.(Bob Thompson / Courtesy of the author) Bob Thompson wanted to walk the battlefields of the American Revolution – maybe not all, but a lot of them. Why? Bob’s a retired journalist and had dec…
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Cypress logging area, Santee River Cypress Lumber Co., Clarendon Co., South Carolina.(The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Photography Collection, The New York Public Library.) This week we are going to be talking about an innovative strategy undertaken by the town of Sumter, SC, in the early 1920s to try to surviv…
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Woody Collins(Courtesy of the author) People have been catching and eating shrimp off the coast of the Carolinas for centuries. The shrimping industry in South Carolina, however, only started about 100 years ago. And trawling, or “fishing,” for shrimp became a way of life in the Lowcountry, as well as a way of making a living. “Captain Woody” Colli…
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Walter Edgar in the studio in 2019 with producer Alfred Turner(Tabitha Safdi / SCETV) Someone once said, “All roads lead to Rome.” Maybe... But longtime historian, author, and radio host Walter Edgar believes it’s a safer bet that all roads pass through South Carolina. And lot of them start here! For almost 23 years Walter Edgar’s Journal has been …
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Scottish colonies in North America(Cene Ketcham / Wikimedia Commons) In his new book, Carolina's Lost Colony: Stuarts Town and the Struggle for Survival in Early South Carolina (2022, USC Press), historian Peter N. Moore examines the dual colonization of Port Royal at the end of the seventeenth century. From the east came Scottish Covenanters, who …
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Joseph Drew Lanham, onrnithologist, naturalist, and writer, and now a 2022 MacArthur Fellow, in Clemson, S.C.(John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation) Edgefield native Drew Lanham wasn’t entirely sure what the phone call from Chicago was about. And, after he heard what the person on the phone had to say, he wasn’t altogether sure he believed …
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C. Vann Woodward( UNC Press) With an epic career that spanned two-thirds of the twentieth century, C. Vann Woodward (1908–1999) was a historian of singular importance. A brilliant writer, his work captivated both academic and public audiences. He also figured prominently in the major intellectual conflicts between left and right during the last hal…
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( Courtesy of the author) With his book, Crécy: Battle of Five Kings (2022, Osprey), Michael Livingston, professor of medieval history at The Citadel, has authored a remarkable new study on the Battle of Crécy, in which the outnumbered English under King Edward III won a decisive victory over the French and changed the course of the Hundred Years W…
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(Mahdi Abdulrazak / Flickr) Since The Birth of a Nation became the first Hollywood blockbuster in 1915, movies have struggled to reckon with the American South—as both a place and an idea, a reality and a romance, a lived experience, and a bitter legacy. Nearly every major American filmmaker, actor, and screenwriter has worked on a film about the S…
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"Battle of Camden - death of De Kalb"( The New York Public Library Digital Collections / The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Print Collection, The New York Public Library) In 1780, Camden was the oldest and largest town in the Carolina backcountry. It was strategic to both the British Army and the Patriots in the …
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Mable Owens Clarke is the sixth-generation steward and matriarch of Soapstone Baptist Church in the rural Pickens County community of Liberia. In 1999, a few days before she died at the age of 104, Mable’s mother, Lula Mae, made her daughter promise never to let the historically Black church close. Mabel Owens Clarke and Carlton Owen, President of …
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Battle of the Waxhaws(Dale Watson / SC Battleground Preservation Trust) America’s independence was secured in South Carolina, across its swamps, fields, woods and mountains. These events of 1779-1782 directly led to victory in the Revolutionary War. The Liberty Trail – developed through a partnership between the American Battlefield Trust and the S…
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Drayton Hall( Drayton Hall Preservation Trust) George McDaniel served as the Executive Director of Drayton Hall, a mid-18th-century plantation located on the Ashley River near Charleston for more than 25 years. His new book, Drayton Hall Stories: A Place and Its People (2022, Evening Post Books) focuses on this historic site’s recent history, using…
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The glass house at Historic Columbia's Boyd Foundation Horticultural Center on the grounds of the Hampton-Preston Mansion in Columbia, SC.( Historic Columbia Foundation) In 1961, the Historic Columbia Foundation was formed. It's goal: to save the the 135-year-old Robert Mills House from demolition and restore it. Over 60 years later, the Foundation…
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Seven minutes past midnight on March 10, 1945, nearly 300 American B-29s thundered into the skies over Tokyo. Their payloads of incendiaries ignited a firestorm that reached up to 2,800 degrees, liquefying asphalt and vaporizing thousands; sixteen square miles of the city were flattened, and more than 100,000 men, women, and children were killed. I…
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(Illustration from Harper's Weekly, August 17, 1861/NY State Library) In War Stuff: The Struggle for Human and Environmental Resources in the American Civil War, her path-breaking work on the American Civil War, Joan E. Cashin explores the struggle between armies and civilians over the resources necessary to wage war. This war 'stuff' included the …
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(Tor Books) Dr. Michael Livingston(Super Festivals / Wikimedia Commons) In his latest book, Origins of The Wheel of Time: The Legends and Mythologies that Inspired Robert Jordan (2022, Tor), author Michael Livingston, a professor of medieval literature at The Citadel, takes a deep dive into the real-world history and mythology that inspired the wor…
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The Cannon Street All-Stars watch from the stands at the 1955 Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. (Courtesy of Ramon Jackson and Little League Baseball.) When the 11- and 12-year-olds on the Cannon Street YMCA all-star team registered for a baseball tournament in Charleston, South Carolina, in July 1955, it put the team and th…
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(Anthony Berger / Library of Congress) In his Gettysburg Address, Abraham Lincoln promised that the nation’s sacrifices during the Civil War would lead to a “new birth of freedom.” Lincoln’s Unfinished Work: The New Birth of Freedom from Generation to Generation (2022, LSU Press) analyzes how the United States has attempted to realize—or subvert—th…
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(Library of Congress, from Central Michigan University, Clark Historical Library) (Originally broadcast on 03/08/19) - In this week's episode of Walter Edgar's Journal, Richard Gergel details the impact of the 1946 blinding of Sergeant Isaac Woodard on both President Harry S. Truman and Judge J. Waties Waring, and traces their influential roles in …
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C. Vann Woodward( UNC Press) With an epic career that spanned two-thirds of the twentieth century, C. Vann Woodward (1908–1999) was a historian of singular importance. A brilliant writer, his work captivated both academic and public audiences. He also figured prominently in the major intellectual conflicts between left and right during the last hal…
  continue reading
 
(Virginia State Parks [CC BY 2.0] via Flickr) How did conceptions of a tradition-bound, "timeless" South shape Americans' views of themselves and their society's political and cultural fragmentations, following the turbulent 1960s? In his book, The South of the Mind: American Imaginings of White Southerness, 1960–1980 (2018, UGA Press), Zachary J. …
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Duke University football coach Wallace Wade at practice in the 1930s. Duke was a member of the Southern Conference from 1928 to 1953.(Duke University Archives / Flickr) In the winter of 1921, fifteen prominent colleges and universities met in Atlanta, Georgia, to form a new organization to promote intercollegiate athletics competition. That organiz…
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