Created By: Seeking Abraham Project
User Note: In the app, you can swipe left to see more photographs for each site. Under Settings, you can toggle to turn off the audio narration.
Furman's landscape, ranked frequently in the top ten most beautiful colleges in the country, tells quite a few stories if you know where to look and have this map to help guide you.
The tour will start at Cherrydale Alumni House, a symbol of our antebellum start. Founded in 1826, we’re the oldest private university in South Carolina. The school is named for Richard Furman, a clergyman considered the most important American Baptist leader in the U.S. South.
His son, James C. Furman, whose plantation home has been converted into the alumni house, was the school's first president.
Both of these men have plenty of rhetoric for unpacking, but we’ll also look at campus from the perspective of the native people who first called the campus home, the enslaved and laborers, the women who pushed against the Furmans' views, the eventual students and faculty who pushed desegregation forward, and the Baptists who eventually broke with their own Convention. We'll see much of this history is "hidden" in the current landscape, and note changes suggested by the Task Force on Slavery and Justice report (released July 28, 2018).
Funding and Background the Project
We start at Cherrydale Alumni House because of the inspiration for this history: Abraham. A former slave, Abraham worked for the university’s first president and yet all we know about his life is a blurry photograph of him beside the house and his name handwritten on the back of the same photo. Sponsored by the Seeking Abraham Project (started in 2017) and a grant from the Associated Colleges of the South (ACS), this digital humanities project seeks to investigate and understand the university’s historical associations with slavery, and then make connections in the present and repair historical harms. In other words, this tour is part of the campus reconciling its current views with a past that is often ignored or even hidden. We hope we’ll prompt conversations within our community about a sense of equity and justice that we can start living today.
A special thanks for the help of Jeffrey Makala and Julia Cowart in Furman's Special Collections & Archives.
The places you'll visit were inventoried and described by Furman students in Communication Studies, both in an independent study and Introduction to Rhetoric. Now… let’s begin!