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Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation Announces Grantees for “Broadening Narratives” Grant



Press Release

The Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation (the Foundation)— which supports land conservation, artistic vitality, and regional collections for the people of the Lowcountry of South Carolina and the Chicago region—is proud to announce the ten recipients of the  Foundation’s groundbreaking “Broadening Narratives” initiative which aims to fund specific collections  projects that bring forward underrepresented stories. The five Lowcountry-based organizations are the  Avery Research Center for African American History & Culture at the College of Charleston, Coastal  Carolina University, Drayton Hall Preservation Trust, Harbor Historical Association / South Carolina  Maritime Museum, and Penn Center. 

This announcement represents the first round of organizations to receive the new Broadening Narratives grant, with the second round of awardees to be announced in November 2021. All projects  illustrate BIPOC communities, LGBTQ+ perspectives, working-class narratives, small community  experiences, as well as other underrepresented groups and viewpoints.

“While the purpose of collections is to ensure that stories are preserved, many narratives are often  overlooked because of decisions based on race, gender, sexual identity, educational background,  economic or social status, or because they are perceived to be outside the conventional thinking of the  day,” said David Farren, Executive Director of the Foundation. “We are thrilled to announce these grant  recipients and want to thank these organizations for being part of this new way forward in collections  thinking that shifts focus from the processing of material objects to the telling of broader and more  inclusive narratives.”

The Lowcountry-based organizations and projects to be funded by Broadening Narratives:

  • Avery Research Center for African American History & Culture at the College of Charleston will  collect oral histories, photographs, documents, and other ephemera related to Civil Rights  movements in the Lowcountry with primary focus on the Black Lives Matter movement of the  2010s. The oral histories and other ephemera collected through direct community outreach will  be housed on the Lowcountry Digital Library portal.

“The Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture greatly appreciates the  support of the GDDF and its initiative Broadening Narratives. The grant provides us the  opportunity to document the continued activism of Black people and their accomplices in the  long struggle for civil and human rights in Charleston and the South Carolina Lowcountry in their  own words. Documenting and collecting these narratives now ensures that this history is not lost  and is preserved for future generations and scholars.”

  • Coastal Carolina University’s Joyner Institute for Gullah Studies continues its work on the Gullah  Geechee Digital Project, which aims to showcase the diversity and commonalities between  Gullah Geechee communities along South Carolina. As a part of the Plantersville Cultural  Collective, the collaborative project will collect community input and feedback on cultural  interpretation, cultural heritage development, and documentation to develop storylines that  broaden the historic and contemporary narratives in Horry and Georgetown counties.

“Coastal Carolina University is thrilled to partner with the Village Group and Waccamaw  National Wildlife Refuge on this grant to gather more stories, conduct workshops, history  harvests, and community feedback on how the history of Plantersville is told. Gullah Geechee  communities provide the foundation of the rich culture and landscape of our region, and we’re  excited for the opportunity to help provide more resources to be able to understand that history.”

  • Drayton Hall Preservation Trust will catalog and digitize Colonoware, found in the property’s  South Flanker Well. Colonoware is often seen as a unique artifact in its usefulness in studying the  changing cultural identities of the colonial period. The ongoing research offers a unique window into the lives and ceramic traditions of the enslaved to better understand the marginalized  communities of Charleston during this time.

“The support from the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation is integral in the mission of  Drayton Hall to expand our understanding of African and Indigenous people—both free and  enslaved—living in colonial SC during the 18th and 19th centuries. Through the digitization of  archaeological records and artifacts, subsequent research of this data, and sharing this work via  community outreach, we can continue to explore how these marginalized groups impacted and  contributed to the history of Drayton Hall and the Charleston area. In regards to scholarship of  colonoware, this funding continues groundbreaking work in developing new methods of analysis  and collaboration across institutions to more effectively examine the daily lives of these  communities and the role of pottery-making in how they negotiated the colonial system.”

  • Harbor Historical Association / South Carolina Maritime Museum will create an exhibition that  will illuminate the transatlantic slave trade into South Carolina; using water as a means of  escape; and show the transition of Afro-Carolinians from enslavement on plantations to work in  maritime-related occupations.

“Although elements of the role of African Americans in South Carolina maritime history have  been present in our museum, this grant will allow us to broadly expand this history from the  transatlantic slave crossings to post Civil-War maritime occupational roles.

As a self-supporting non-profit, we look forward to applying these funds to partnerships with  other local individuals and groups to accurately represent this history through narrative panels,  oral histories, and community programs.”

  • Penn Center will transform its York Bailey Museum and other visitor experiences across its 47- acre campus, create a new, onsite preservation and storage space that will safeguard center’s  artifacts; and establish a new director of exhibitions to guide the creation of exhibitions and  interpretative experiences for discovering and sharing Gullah Geechee culture and history.

“This grant will allow us to continue to interpret, safeguard and share the heritage of the Gullah  Geechee community. As the only African American National Historic Landmark District in the  state of South Carolina, we have a unique opportunity to share Reconstruction history and to  serve as national advocates for preserving Gullah Geechee culture. The support of the Gaylord &  Dorothy Donnelley Foundation allows us to continue this important work through new exhibitions  and visitor experiences aimed at empowering and providing access to diverse audiences looking  to understand our history.”

Organizations and projects located in the Chicago area to receive the Broadening Narratives grants are:  the Haitian American Museum of Chicago which will hire a specialist to catalog its collection, establish  procedures for working with the collection, and improve community access to the collection for future  programming; Honey Pot Performance’s s Chicago Black Social Culture Map (CBSCM) which will

construct an accessible archive for the exploration of Black social history in Chicago; the National  Museum of Mexican Art which will highlight the contributions of Mexicans to the storyline of Chicago  through a permanent exhibit; the South Side Home Movie Project which will create exhibitions that  provide visual history of historically marginalized groups in Chicago’s South Side; and the University of  Illinois Chicago, College of Nursing which will promote existing archival collections, conduct oral  interviews, and create mobile and digital exhibits aimed at recuperating Black nurses’ narratives.

About Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation 

The Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation supports land conservation, artistic vitality, and  regional collections for the people of the Chicago region and the Lowcountry of South Carolina.  For over four years, the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation has convened five advisory groups to  assist with the formation of the Broadening Narratives funding initiative by providing important  feedback, keeping the Foundation apprised of trends in the field, and serving as valuable connectors and  conveners. The groups include Black Metropolis Research Consortium, Chicago Collections Consortium,  Chicago Cultural Alliance, the College of Charleston’s Lowcountry Digital Library, and the Southeastern  Museums Conference.

For more information on the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, visit

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