A Woman Rice Planter by Elizabeth Pringle offers insights into a broad spectrum of Southern life after the Civil War. As an account of a woman’s struggle for survival and dignity in a distinctly male-dominated society, it contributes significantly to women’s history. For observers of the black experience, it affords opinionated, but nonetheless revealing, views about African American folklife. It presents a rich portrait of a distinctive place–the South Carolina Lowcountry–in a troubled and generally undocumented time, a portrait made all the more vivid by the fine pen-and-ink sketches of Charleston artist Alice R. Huger Smith.
University of South Carolina Press, 1992; Paperback; 145 pages; $42.00
Richard Dwight Porcher, Jr., eminent field biologist and lowcountry South Carolina native, has brought all of his skills as a botanist, historian, photographer, and conservationist to bear in a multidisciplinary study of the rice industry in South Carolina from its beginnings in the 1670’s to its demise in the twentieth century. Using the tools of the geographer, the civil engineer, the draftsman and the close reader of many primary and secondary sources on the history of rice culture in the colony and state, Porcher and coauthor William Robert Judd have amassed a great body of previously unearthed information on rice history.
University of SC Press, 2014; Hardback; 360 pages; $65
Did you know that 88 years before Rosa Parks’s historic protest, a courageous black woman in Charleston kept her seat on a segregated streetcar? What about Robert Smalls, who steered a Confederate warship into Union waters, freeing himself and some of his family, and later served in the South Carolina state legislature? In this inspiring collection, historian Damon L. Fordham relates story after story of notable black South Carolinians, many of whose contributions to the state’s history have not been brought to light until now. From the letters of black soldiers during the Civil War to the impassioned pleas by students of “Munro’s School” for their right to an education, these are the voices of protest and dissent, the voices of hope and encouragement and the voice of progress.
The History Press, 2009; Paperback; 155 pages; $19.99
Collected here for the first time, this selection of essays by historian Damon L. Fordham brings these stories to light. Rediscover the tales of Samuel Smalls, the James Island beggar who inspired DuBose Heyward’s Porgy, and Denmark Vesey, the architect of the the great would-be slave rebellion of 1822. Learn about the blacks who lived and worked at what is now Mepkin Abbbey, the Spartanburg woman who took part in a sit-in at the age of eleven, and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s visit to Charleston in 1967. These articles are well-research and provide an enlightening glimpse at the overlooked contributors to South Carolina’s past.
The History Press, 2008; Paperback; 166 pages; $17.99
Carolina Gold, the celebrated variety of rice established in the South Carolina Lowcountry, perhaps saved the fledgling colony at the beginning of the eighteenth century and remained integral to the local economy for nearly two hundred years. However, the labor required to produce it encouraged the establishment of slavery, ultimately contributing to the region’s economic collapse following the Civil War. Richard Schulze, who reintroduced this crop in South Carolina after nearly a century’s absence, provides this fascinating inside story of an industry that helped build some of the largest fortunes in America. Drawing on both historical research and personal experience, Schulze reveals the legacy of this once-forgotten Lowcountry icon. By Richard Schulze; Foreword by John Martin Taylor
The History Press, 2005; Paperback; 128 pages; $9.99
A vivid interpretation of rice and slaves in the Atlantic world, Black Rice reveals how racism has shaped our historical memory and neglected a critical African contribution to the making of the Americas. The belief that Europeans first introduced rice to West Africa and then brought the knowledge of its cultivation to the Americas is a fundamental fallacy, Carney reveals, one that succeeds in effacing the true origins of the crop and the role of Africans and African-American slaves in transferring the seed, the cultivation skills, and the cultural practices necessary for establishing rice in the New World. By Judith A. Carney
Harvard University Press, 2001; Paperback; 240 pages; $29.95
University of South Carolina Press, 2004; Paperback; 482 pages; $19.95
“Walter Edgar has labored long and hard on this bold and sweeping reassessment of South Carolina. Bringing to his task a rare combination of careful scholarship, insightful interpretation, and graceful writing, he has constructed a deeper and more balanced treatment of the state’s complex history than ever attempted before. It is a conspicuous landmark of scholarship, and it goes far to solidify his position in the front rank of the state’s historians.” – Charles Joyner, Coastal Carolina University
University of South Carolina Press, $45
Including the South Carolina Low Country Receipts and Remedies of Emily Wharton Sinkler
– by Anne Sinkler Whaley LeClerq
Using the letters and receipt books of an ancestor, Anne Sinkler Whaley LeClercq has vividly re-created life on a South Carolina plantation during the two decades before the Civil War… Through her letters, [Emily Sinkler] presents a vibrant and affluent plantation society but also voices her concerns about religion, politics, and slavery. In reconstructing the narrative of these letters, LeClerq offers us remarkable insight into the roles and responsibilities of women in antebellum society.” – from the Georgia Historical Quarterly
The Civil War and Reconstruction eras decimated the rice-planting enterprise of the South, and no family experienced the effects of this economic upheaval quite as dramatically as the Heywards of South Carolina, a family synonymous with the wealth of the old rice kingdom in the Palmetto State. Twilight on the South Carolina Rice Fields collects the revealing wartime and postbellum letters and documents of Edward Barnwell “Barney” Heyward (1826-1871), a native of Beaufort District and grandson of Nathaniel Heyward, one of the most successful rice planters and largest slaveholders in the South. Edited by Margaret Belser Hollis and Allen H. Stokes.
USC Press; 2010; Hardback; 7″ x 9″; 424 pages; $39.95