History of the Avery Research Center

The Avery Institute, Charleston, South Carolina (Harper's Weekly)

To understand the Avery Research Center, it is important to consider its rich history. Founded in 1865 as the Avery Normal Institute, this community hub provided education and advocacy for the growing Charleston African American community and trained blacks for professional careers and leadership roles. Although the Institute closed its doors in 1954, it graduates preserved the legacy of their alma mater by establishing the Avery Institute of Afro-American History and Culture.

The modern rebirth of Avery began in 1985 with the establishment of the Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture at the College of Charleston. The newly christened center came to fruition through a memorandum of understanding between the former Avery Institute and the College, with many of the charter members graduates of the original Avery Normal Institute.

For the last thirty years, the Avery Research Center has collected art and archival materials that document the history, traditions, and legacies of African Americans and their influence on American society and culture, as well as their place within the American narrative.

For a full history of the Avery Normal Institute and the Avery Research Center, click the photo below for our downloadable packet or visit the digital exhibition on the Lowcountry Digital History Initiative (LDHI).

A History of the Avery Normal Institute From 1865 to 1954

BUILDING CLOSURES: We will be closed to the public on Monday, May 27th.
MUSEUM TOURS: We offer self-guided tours Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 1030AM-12PM and 2PM-330PM. Large groups limited 25 people or less per time slot.
ARCHIVES: Researchers must have a consultation BEFORE making a research appointment. Contact us in advance for further assistance