Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Historic Preservation

Committee Chair/Advisor

Jon B. Marcoux

Committee Member

Amalia Leifeste

Committee Member

Darcy Neufeld

Committee Member

Tara White


As more African American communities pursue preservation initiatives in their communities, it is becoming increasingly important to examine why the leaders of these communities preserve their heritage, what projects they undertake, and how they accomplish their preservation initiatives. This thesis aims to answer to answer the question: How do five current leaders of preservation in African American communities in Charleston compare in terms of their preservation sites, motivations, goals, and strategies to each other and early preservationists in Charleston? The author used an interview methodology for this thesis and asked fourteen core questions to five preservationists in African American communities. The analysis of the oral history transcripts compares all five preservationists with each other and two early preservationists in Charleston: Susan Pringle Frost and Frances Edmunds. Through this analysis, common themes were determined for the preservation sites, motivations, goals, and strategies of the early and modern preservationists, and they speak to the evolving nature of the field of historic preservation. These themes centered around sovereignty, family legacy, community protection, the threat of a structure’s collapse, and the importance of African American history. Additional themes drawn out from the interviewees included discussions on property ownership, heirs’ properties, incorporated towns, and creating their own nonprofits. This thesis not only aims to fill a void in the research of preservation projects in African American communities being pursued by community leaders but also to look at personal motivations and how people are advancing the movement to help characterize the new chapter of the discipline.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.