Walter Edgar's Journal From books to barbecue, from current events to colonial history, Walter Edgar's Journal delves into the arts, culture, history of South Carolina and The South.
Walter Edgar's Journal

Walter Edgar's Journal

From South Carolina Public Radio

From books to barbecue, from current events to colonial history, Walter Edgar's Journal delves into the arts, culture, history of South Carolina and The South.

Most Recent Episodes

Into the light: the electrification of rural South Carolina

Early in the twentieth century, for-profit companies such as Duke Power and South Carolina Electric and Gas brought electricity to populous cities and towns across South Carolina, while rural areas remained in the dark. It was not until the advent of publicly owned electric cooperatives in the 1930s that the South Carolina countryside was gradually introduced to the conveniences of life with electricity. Today, electric cooperatives serve more than a quarter of South Carolina's citizens and more than seventy percent of the state's land area.In his book, Empowering Communities: How Electric Cooperatives Transformed Rural South Carolina (USC Press, 2022), Dr. Lacy K. Ford and co-author Jared Bailey tell the story of the rise of "public" power – electricity serviced by member-owned cooperatives and sanctioned by federal and state legislation. It is a complicated saga, encompassing politics, law, finance, and rural economic development, of how the cooperatives helped bring fundamental and transformational change to the lives of rural people in South Carolina, from light to broadband.Ford talks with Dr. Edgar about how rural electrification , combined with the paving of roads, and funding of public schools, helped transform bring the Palmetto State into the modern world.

Brookgreen Gardens - its history and its expanding mission

In 2022, USC Press published Brookgreen Gardens: Ever Changing. Simply Amazing. More than just a beautiful coffee table book highlighting the art and fauna of Brookgreen, the volume tells the story of the creation and growth of Brookgreen Gardens, as well as stories of the peoples who lived on and worked the land in the past.Walter Edgar talks with President and CEO Page Kiniry and Ron Daise, VP of Creative Education about the history and mission of Brookgreen Gardens.

The growth and value of "public history"

Dr. Constance Schulz, Distinguished Professor Emerita of the University of South Carolina's Public History Program, joins Walter Edgar this week to talk about the importance of "public history" and how it has evolved as a field of study over the last 50 years. Schulz is the winner of the Robert Kelley Memorial Award from the National Council on Public History.She is currently at work on The Pinckney Papers Project – based on two digital documentary editions: The Papers of Eliza Lucas Pinckney and Harriott Pinckney Horry and The Papers of the Revolutionary Era Pinckney Statesmen – which explores one of our South Carolina's most prominent families, specifically examining the importance of women's social connections and relationships during that time.

Alice Ravenel Huger Smith, Charleston Renaissance Artist

Alice Ravenel Huger Smith (1876–1958), a leader of the Charleston Renaissance, immortalized the beauty and history of the Carolina Lowcountry and helped propel the region into an important destination for cultural tourism.In the book Alice: Alice Ravenel Huger Smith, Charleston Renaissance Artist, Dwight McInvail and his co-authors draw on unpublished papers, letters, and interviews to create a personal account of the artist's life and work. The book is enriched by over 200 illustrations of paintings, prints, sketches, and photographs, many shared for the first time.McInvaill and internationally renowned South Carolina Artist Jonathan Green join Walter Edgar in conversation about Alice Ravenel Huger Smith and her work.

Shrimp Tales

Shrimp, one of our most delicious food sources, was once only considered worthy of bait. In her new book, Shrimp Tales: Small Bites of History (2022, Primedia eLaunch), author Beverly Bowers Jennings tells the fascinating story of the shrimp industry, from the shrimp boats and their captains to fishing family lore, tasty recipes and more.Jennings talks with Walter Edgar about what she learned in a decade spent interviewing shrimpers and others associated with commercial shrimping to produce permanent exhibits for the Port Royal Sound Maritime Center and the Coastal Discovery Museum on Hilton Head. That work served as the basis of Shrimp Tales, a book that reveals the old ways of shrimping and celebrates today's awakening about the foods we eat and the people who make it all happen.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers – 150 years

In 2021, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers celebrates the 150th anniversary of its founding. The Corps' Charleston District has a unique and varied program that grows larger every year. The Civil Works, Navigation, Regulatory, Emergency Management, Military, and Interagency and International Services programs serve a diverse group of customers that span not only South Carolina, but also globally, which keeps the staff of more than 240 quite busy.Lt Colonel Andrew Johannes, Charleston District Commander; and Brian Williams, the District's Civil Works Chief, join Walter Edgar for a conversation on the Corps' history, its missions, and the many ways its work impacts South Carolina, including the deepening of Charleston Harbor.

Black snow: SC author chronicles desperate measures taken to end WWII fighting in the Pacific

Seven minutes past midnight on March 10, 1945, nearly 300 American B-29s thundered into the skies over Tokyo. Their payloads of incendiaries ignited a firestorm that reached up to 2,800 degrees, liquefying asphalt and vaporizing thousands; sixteen square miles of the city were flattened, and more than 100,000 men, women, and children were killed.In his book, Black Snow - Curtis LeMay, the Firebombing of Tokyo, and the Road to the Atomic Bomb, Charleston author James M. Scott tells the story of this devastating operation, orchestrated by Major General Curtis LeMay, who famously remarked: "If we lose the war, we'll be tried as war criminals."James Scott talks with Walter Edgar about the development of the B-29, the capture of the Marianas for use as airfields, and the change in strategy from high-altitude daylight "precision" bombing to low-altitude nighttime incendiary bombing. Most importantly, the raid represented a significant moral shift for America, marking the first-time commanders deliberately targeted civilians which helped pave the way for the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki five months later.

Black snow: SC author chronicles desperate measures taken to end WWII fighting in the Pacific

Stephen A. Swails - a forgotten Black freedom fighter in the Civil War & Reconstruction

Stephen Atkins Swails is a forgotten American hero. A free Black in the North before the Civil War began, Swails exhibited such exemplary service in the 54th Massachusetts Infantry that he became the first African American commissioned as a combat officer in the United States military. After the war, Swails remained in South Carolina, where he held important positions in the Freedmen's Bureau, helped draft a progressive state constitution, served in the state senate, and secured legislation benefiting newly liberated Black citizens. Swails remained active in South Carolina politics after Reconstruction until violent Redeemers drove him from the state.Gordon C. Rhea tells Swails' story in his new biography, Stephen A. Swails: Black Freedom Fighter in the Civil War and Reconstruction (2021, LSU Press. Rhea talks with Walter Edgar about the saga of this indomitable human being who confronted deep-seated racial prejudice in various institutions but nevertheless reached significant milestones in the fight for racial equality.

Stephen A. Swails - a forgotten Black freedom fighter in the Civil War & Reconstruction

History and horticulture at Historic Columbia's Hampton-Preston Mansion site

Historic Columbia's Boyd Foundation Horticultural Center, located on the grounds of the Hampton-Preston Mansion & Gardens on Blanding Street opened this year. Its greenhouse allows the historic site to serve as a hub for horticultural research and plant propagation, alongside ongoing interpretation, and programming. The greenhouse and gatehouse constructions are based on historic structures that once stood on the property. And, the greenhouse facility serves as a space to interpret the role that an extensive workforce of gardeners and horticulturists – Black, white, enslaved, and free – have played in shaping this site for over 200 years.John Sherrer, Director of Cultural Resources for Historic Columbia, and Keith Mearns, Director of Grounds, talk with Walter Edgar about planning and building the Horticultural Center and about the ways it enriches the mansion's grounds.

History and horticulture at Historic Columbia's Hampton-Preston Mansion site

Drayton Hall stories: A place and its people

George McDaniel served as the Executive Director of Drayton Hall, a mid-18th-century plantation located on the Ashley River near Charleston for more than 25 years. His new book, Drayton Hall Stories: A Place and Its People (2022, Evening Post Books) focuses on this historic site's recent history, using interviews with descendants (both White and Black), board members, staff, donors, architects, historians, preservationists, tourism leaders, and more to create an engaging picture of this one place.McDaniel talks with Walter Edgar about the never-before-shared family moments, major decisions in preservation and site stewardship, and pioneering efforts to transform a Southern plantation into a site for racial conciliation.