Archival Research Trips
Much of the previous scholarship on Hunter relies on her 1940 autobiography as a source of information. It was vital, therefore, for the team to locate and examine primary documents to properly historicize and contextualize Hunter in the new edition of A Nickel and a Prayer. In addition to its extensive use of local libraries and internet services, the team took two out-of-town trips to do the archival research the JEH Project demanded.
In the fall of 2008, Dr. Thomas and the nine students of ENGL 482 went to Cleveland, Ohio, for a five-day archival research trip from November 10 to November 14, 2009. The trip was funded by the College of Arts, Architecture, and Humanities through the Humanities Board of the Clemson University Foundation and the Clemson University Department of English.
In the fall of 2012, Dr. Thomas took another team of five students back to Cleveland.
The Phillis Wheatley Association
After a drive of more than ten hours from Clemson to Cleveland, the first stop was the Phillis Wheatley Association (PWA). The team took a tour of the imposing brick structure led by Jacquelyn Bradshaw, the PWA's Executive Director. Ms. Bradshaw graciously allowed the team to set up camp in the PWA to go through the many boxes of documents in its possession, which were stored in nearby Hunter's Cove.
The Western Reserve Historical Society Library/Archives and Genealogy Center
Society is another repository for Hunter's primary documents. The Western Reserve Historical Society holds two Jane Edna Hunter collections and one Phillis Wheatley Association collection, all of which the team pored over in its five days of research. Some members of the team made use of the Center's census and genealogy records, while others delved into containers full of business and personal correspondence, manuscript fragments, speeches, newspaper clippings, and PWA records.
Hunter's Cove,located just around the corner from the main building of the PWA, was the home of Jane Edna Hunter. Built in 1934, much of its upstairs remains furnished and decorated as it was when Hunter herself lived there. Hunter's Cove currently serves as a repository for the large body of Hunter's personal and professional correspondence to which the team was given access.
The team also went to Lakeview Cemetery to pay its respects at Hunter's grave site. Hunter's brother Winston Harris was buried nearby. The team's research indicates that some of the influential Clevelanders who were mentioned in A Nickel and a Prayer are interred in Lakeview Cemetery. Among them is Albert "Starlight" Boyd, Hunter's arch-enemy in the early days of the PWA.
In the spring of 2009, Dr. Thomas and the five students who comprised the JEH Project team that semester (ENGL 489) took a two-day archival research trip to Charleston, South Carolina. Charleston is about a four hour drive from Clemson, so the team left early on Thursday, March 26 and returned the evening of the 27th. The trip was funded in part by money left over from the Cleveland trip.
South Carolina HIstorical Society
Half of the team spent the days doing research at the South Carolina Historical Society, which is located in Charleston's historic Fireproof Building. Although the Historical Society's manuscript collection yielded only a small folder on Hunter herself, it contained numerous boxes of documents pertaining to the white families Hunter remembers from her childhood in A Nickel and a Prayer.
Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture
The other half of the team conducted its research at the Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture..