Resources and materials: The institute will provide access to digitized historical documents. Primary sources will include artifacts, first person accounts, (including newspaper accounts) government publications, historical documents including broad sides and last wills and testaments, posters, maps, journals, diaries, ledgers, letters, and photographs. These primary sources can be found in Penn Center’s archives, the Beaufort County Library, The Beaufort County Historical Society, and at the Beaufort Museum. Beaufort County the place is an ideal resource for the study of Reconstruction. In Beaufort County, a remarkable history of Reconstruction is still evident through extant buildings from the nineteenth century. Beaufort County has numerous houses once occupied by Union officers, early churches, and homes built by freed slaves, schools established by missionaries, and buildings that served as the headquarters for the Freedman’s Bureau and the Freedman’s Bank. Additionally historical markers denote the place beneath large live oak trees along the Beaufort Rivers where the Emancipation Proclamation was read and the location on Hilton Head Island of the first freemen’s village. The survival of so many historical resources makes Beaufort County a strong location for telling the story of Reconstruction. The historical integrity of its buildings, the uniqueness of being the first area where blacks and whites worked together to initiate Reconstruction policies, and the fact that the area served as a stage for every aspect of the Reconstruction experience makes Beaufort County a powerful Reconstruction resource.
Projects and curriculum: The institute will integrate the study of Reconstruction with highly functioning reading circles which will be self- directed under the rotating leadership of members of the group. The institute will establish a film room and provide films for optional film viewing in the evenings. All teachers will have a mandatory project assignment of creating a visual essay to be placed on the web site along with an accompanying lesson plan. The visual essay project will be guided by Thomas Thurston.