Unidentified Penn School Graduate, August 2009


Unidentified Penn School Graduate, August 2009


Crawford, Eric (Interviewer)





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An unidentified 81-year-old female Penn School graduate interview, who was a classmate of Robert Ralph Middleton and is now the board member of the Penn Center and member of Brick Baptist Church. She attended school from 1932, and she attended Adam Street Church as a child. The interview covers the use of classic English versus Gullah, and the emphasis of the spirituals at Penn. She recalls that that Penn School emphasized the Gullah culture through the food, spirituals (which she recalls were performed in Gullah), and through the preservation of the language. She recalls why Penn School required students to stay on campus the last two years, as well as the convenience it provided to other island communities like Hilton Head and Shell Island, which did not have high schools for black students. She recalls the routines of Penn School such as the flag service and chapel service, as well as the numerous individuals who came to study the songs and the educational models at Penn. They discuss Mr. J. P. King, who went to school with her father at Hampton College. The interviewee discusses the quartet contests, as well as the site of the first reading of the Emancipation Proclamation. She recalls her own baptism, the baptisms that occured at the creek, and the communion service traditions at churches on the island. She then shifts back to Penn School to discuss the number of boys who were drafted during World War II. She discusses the benefits of the isolation of Saint Helena Island before the bridge was built, and the importance of midwives and doctors at Penn School. The interview cuts off in the middle of her discussing the vesper services held by a principal at Penn School. After a break in the recording, the interviewee discusses her brother's education at Penn School, and the fact that some individuals would have to leave Penn because they could not afford tuition. She recalls that Mrs. Agnes Sherman brought back some of the old customs after she was hired as a cultural coordinator at the Penn Center, and she explains the experience of these celebrations, such as Fourth of July and Labor Day. She also discusses Mrs. Sherman's collaboration with James Garfield Smalls. As Crawford and the interviewee look through artifacts, she remembers how both girls and boys were involved in the war effort during World War II. She also sings a few bars of "Leanin' on the Lord," which Garfield would sing. She also sings parts of "Hold Out Your Light."


Spirituals (Songs)--Sea Islands;Hymns--South Carolina--Saint Helena Island;Sacred vocal music--Sea Islands;Gullahs--South Carolina--Saint Helena Island--Religion;Gullahs--South Carolina--Saint Helena Island--Interviews;Sea Islands--Religious life and customs;Saint Helena Island (S.C.)--Religious life and customs;Saint Helena Island (S.C.)--History;Penn Center of the Sea Islands;Penn School (Saint Helena Island, S.C.);Penn Center of the Sea Islands


Foodways, language, education, religious life and customs, history, medicine


This interview is protected by the copyright of the interviewee and The Athenaeum Press at Coastal Carolina University. Any form of alteration, reproduction or commercial use of the interviews or other material is prohibited without the written consent of both the interviewee and a representative of The Athenaeum Press. Citations for scholarly purposes must clearly acknowledge the name of the interviewee, the date and The Athenaeum Press at Coastal Carolina University.



Unidentified Penn School Graduate, August 2009