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Community Roots: Selections from the Local Legacies Project
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Heritage Days Marching Band, November 1999
Heritage Days Marching Band, November 1999 Photo courtesy Penn Center, Inc.

Penn Center Heritage Days

This three-day event has celebrated the culture and heritage of Penn Center on St. Helena Island in South Carolina's low country since 1981. The celebration was a successor to "Harvest Days," held yearly from the early 1900s until 1948, when Penn School closed.

Designated in 1974 as a National Historic Landmark by the U.S. Department of Interior, Penn Center has been a community of history and achievement since 1862. Located on St. Helena Island, Penn Center was known as Penn School for its first 86 years. It was the first school for enslaved people in the South. In 1953, it became Penn Community Services, Inc.

Penn Center's current mission is to preserve the Sea Island history, culture and environment though serving as a local, national, and international educational resource center, and by acting as a catalyst for the development of programs for self-sufficiency.

Penn's York W. Bailey Cultural Museum houses photographs, artifacts depicting lifestyles of the Sea Islands from the 1800s, and an extensive library of oral histories, videotapes and books by and about African-Americans which are used for scholarly research.

Project documentation includes seventeen 8 x 10 color photographs, brochures, and various program booklets dating from 1981.

Originally submitted by: James E. Clyburn, Representative (6th District).



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The Local Legacies project provides a "snapshot" of American Culture as it was expressed in spring of 2000. Consequently, it is not being updated with new or revised information with the exception of "Related Website" links.

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