USC Upstate Announces $186,000 NEH Grant To Help Teachers Tell Their Community’s History

Staff Report

Wednesday, August 12th, 2020

The University of South Carolina Upstate will help middle and high school educators explore and teach the history of their communities with a $186,866 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

The one-year grant will fund “Fabric of the Past: Weaving the Twentieth Century at the Beaumont Mill and Village in South Carolina.” This one-week workshop, offered twice during the summer of 2021, will bring a total of 72 middle and high school social studies teachers to campus to learn how to teach community history. Using the former Beaumont textile mill as a case study, teachers will learn research skills and techniques they can apply in their classrooms back home. 

“We are excited to be a part of the NEH's Landmarks in American History program,” said Dr. Paul Grady, professor of history at USC Upstate and a co-author of the proposal. “It is a sign of the importance of this region's textile heritage, and we are fully committed to honoring that legacy by bringing the memories of the people of the Beaumont Mill community to social studies classrooms across South Carolina and the nation.” 

In addition to Grady, members of the grant team are Dr. Andy Myers, professor of American studies; Dr. Rebecca Mueller, assistant professor of social studies education; Dr. Warren Bareiss, associate professor of communication; and Ann Merryman, university archivist for USC Upstate. All five team members will lead sessions during the weeks the workshop is offered.

“This is yet another great example of how this university continues to provide transformational opportunities for residents of the Upstate region of South Carolina and beyond,” said USC Upstate Interim Chancellor Derham Cole. “I commend Drs. Grady, Myers, Mueller and Bareiss and our University Archivist Ann Merryman for their teamwork and dedication in earning this prestigious grant. This is a tremendous opportunity for USC Upstate to impact lives through education while honoring our community’s history as a leader in the textile industry.”  

Among the activities planned are a walking tour of Beaumont Village and Mill, including a visit to some residents’ homes; a bus tour of selected sites in Spartanburg related to textile history, such as the Whitney community and Converse Mill; archival research using the Library of Congress online collection of child labor photographs; a presentation on Thomas Bomar, an African-American brick mason and businessman whose company built Beaumont and other mills; and a look at the role of women at Beaumont Mill during World War II. 

Applications will be open to teachers in grades 6-12 from across the United States. Over the course of the week, teachers will learn how to use archival collections and collect oral histories, and will develop teaching blueprints they can use when exploring the history of their own region, whether it be a farming community in the Central Valley of California or a fishing village in New England.