Skip to main content

Mamie E. Garvin Fields papers

 Collection
Identifier: AMN 1023

Collection Overview

The collection is divided into seven series:

1. Biographical Papers contains brief documents, identification, newspaper clippings and ephemera materials relating to Mamie Garvin Fields.

2. Literary Productions Lemon Swamp and Other Places, includes documents on co-author and Fields' granddaughter, Karen Fields; organizational materials for the manuscript; correspondence, photocopied book reviews and photographs of the authors at book signing events.

3. Correspondence includes letters; personal and business, and greeting cards sent to Fields from family members, friends, club, religious and business associates.

4. Family Papers contains family trees, correspondence, newsletters, programs, photographs, obsequies and real estate documents generated and/or collected by Fields' immediate family members. Includes materials pertaining to the Garvin, Bellinger/Akmal and Middleton families.

5. Affiliations: Schools, Civic Organizations and Religious Institutions are divided into seven sub-series which documents Fields' involvement with educational, civic, social and religious institutions.

Schools contains composition notebooks with elementary lessons plans, record books, handwritten letters, programs and newsletters from schools Fields taught at including Society Corner, James Island, South Carolina.

The bulk of the collection reflects Fields' involvement with the National Association of Colored Women's Clubs, Incorporated (NACWC), and her role as state president of the South Carolina Federation of Colored Women's Clubs, (SCFCWC) in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Papers include organizational materials: meeting minutes, correspondence, newsletters and photographs. Many of the materials--photocopied photographs, programs and essays (1950-1985) detailing activities of the Coastal, Central/Marion Birnie Wilkinson, Pee Dee and Piedmont Districts--were clipped from various newsletters and publications, including the SCFCWC's "Our Book of Gold: Fiftieth Anniversary" yearbook.

National Association of Colored Women's Clubs, Incorporated (NACWC) contains organizational materials: Constitution and By-Laws; correspondence; reports; meeting notes, brochures and publications generated by the organization. Also, includes a black and white print of several NACWC members watching President John F. Kennedy signing bill designating the Frederick Douglass Home as a national shrine (1962). South Carolina Federation of Colored Women's Clubs holds organizational materials; Constitution and By-Laws, meeting minutes, correspondence, newsletters and photographs reflective of Fields' involvement as the organization's state president in the late 1950s to early 1960s. Also, contains documents pertaining to the South Carolina Junior Federation of Girls. Sub-groups include club materials on the Coastal District: (Formerly known as the Orangeburg District, the Coastal District consisted of Charleston, Berkeley and Dorchester counties); and the Central/Marion Birnie Wilkinson District; Pee Dee and Piedmont Districts. Biographical sketches and images exist for notable South Carolina women including Septima Poinsette Clark, Susan Dart Butler, Albertha Johnston Murray and Ethelyn Parker.

The Marion Birnie Wilkinson Home for Girls holds correspondence between Fields and the home’s namesake, drafts and typed tributes and other writings by Fields regarding her position as superintendent (1960-1963) at this home for homeless girls, with photocopied photographs and articles from newsletters.

Child Day Care and Civic Associations contains correspondence, proposals, newsletters, photographs and newspaper clippings relating to the Charleston Nursery and Day Care Center, the Mamie Fields Day Care Center, Charleston's Branch of the Y.W.C.A., The League of Women Voters of Charleston County, the Charleston County Community Improvement Program/Mayor Gaillard's Citizens Advisory Committee; Trident Area Agency on Aging and Senior Citizens and the Cannon Street Y.M.C.A. Also, includes Fields' tribute as South Carolina's Outstanding Older Citizen (1972)

Centenary United Methodist Church and Related Religious Institutions contains organizational materials, letter, newsletters, programs photographs and other documents relating to the South Carolina Conference of the Methodist Church.

6. Photographic Materials contain numerous original individual photographs (1910, 1940-1980) of Fields, alone and with relatives, friends and associates; the majority being unidentified. Included is a photograph of Charleston Inter-racial Commission members; and one of Fields with jazz trumpeter, Dizzy Gillespie.

7. Various Materials includes scattered programs of events Fields attended. Also includes Fields's address books

Dates

  • 1894-1987
  • Majority of material found within 1945-1985

Access Restrictions

No restrictions

Copyright Notice

The nature of the Avery Research Center's archival holdings means that copyright or other information about restrictions may be difficult or even impossible to determine despite reasonable efforts. The Avery Research Center claims only physical ownership of most archival materials.

The materials from our collections are made available for use in research, teaching, and private study, pursuant to U.S. copyright law. The user must assume full responsibility for any use of the materials, including but not limited to, infringement of copyright and publication rights of reproduced materials. Any materials used for academic research or otherwise should be fully credited with the source.

Biographical Note

Mamie Elizabeth Garvin (1888-1987) was born to Rebecca Mary Logan Bellinger and George Washington Garvin, in Charleston, South Carolina, on the property of her great-uncle James B. Middleton, a former slave and Methodist minister. Garvin attended the Robert Gould Shaw Memorial School in Charleston. With a scholarship from her church, Centenary Methodist, she attended the high school division of Claflin College in Orangeburg, and later continued her education at the college. In 1908, Garvin began her teaching career at Pine Wood, a one-room school near Sumter, South Carolina. Returning to Charleston in 1909, Garvin became one of the first African-American teachers hired to teach in the county's public schools. She taught at the Humbert Wood Elementary School and at the Miller Hill School, Johns Island, South Carolina, where she served as principal for two years. After living briefly in Boston, Massachusetts, she returned to Charleston and married Robert Lucas Fields, a bricklayer, in 1914, and reared two sons, Robert Lionel and Alfred Benjamin. Fields resumed her career in 1926, teaching at the Society Corner School on James Island, South Carolina. In addition to teaching children, Fields was a pioneer in adult education, organizing classes on James and Johns Islands in the early 1920s and developing the first vacation bible school for migrant workers in Charleston during the Depression.

Fields retired in 1943, but remained a dedicated club woman, volunteering in numerous religious and civic organizations. She was a long-standing member of the National Association of Colored Women's Clubs, Incorporated (NACWC) whose mission was to "Lift as They Climb," through civic, social, recreational, educational, cultural, charitable and religious activities. Fields joined the City of Charleston Federation of Colored Women's Clubs in 1916; cofounded the Modern Priscilla Club of Charleston in 1927; served as president of the South Carolina Federation of Colored Women's Clubs (SCFCWC) from 1958 to 1964; and functioned as superintendent of the Marion Birnie Wilkinson Home for Girls, Cayce, South Carolina from 1960 to 1963.

Fields was a local pioneer in the concept of children's daycare facilities; the daycare center at the George Legare Homes public housing project was named in her honor. She was a past worthy matron of the Order of Eastern Star and served on Mayor J. Palmer Gaillard, Jr.'s city advisory committee of housing. Among Fields' numerous honors, she was named "South Carolina's Outstanding Older Citizen" in 1971. In 1978, Fields, with her granddaughter Karen Fields, embarked on an oral history project which culminated in the book, Lemon Swamp and Other Places: A Carolina Memoir, documenting her life in Charleston and Boston from birth to 1948.

Extent

3.0 linear feet (6 archival boxes)

Language of Materials

English

Abstract

Mamie Elizabeth Garvin Fields (1888-1987) was an African-American educator, civic and religious activist born in Charleston, South Carolina. Fields was an influential leader in the South Carolina African-American women's club movement. A culmination of Fields' life is detailed in her memoir, Lemon Swamp and Other Places, co-written with her granddaughter, Karen Fields.

The majority of the collection details Fields' involvement with the National Association of Colored Women Clubs, Incorporated, and her role as state president of the South Carolina Federation of Colored Women's Clubs (SCFCWC) in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Papers include organizational materials: meeting minutes, correspondence, newsletters and photographs. Many of the materials include photocopied images from Federation publications, programs and essays (1950-1985) detailing activities of the Coastal, Central/Marion Birnie Wilkinson, Pee Dee and Piedmont Districts. A smaller yet substantial series related to Fields' book Lemon Swamp (1983) including material on her co-author, Karen Fields, organizational material for the manuscript; correspondence; photocopied book reviews and photographs of the authors various book signings.

Collection Arrangement

1. Biographical Papers, 1938-1987

2. Literary Productions: Lemon Swamp and Other Places: A Carolina Memoir, circa 1900, 1979-1986

3. Correspondence, 1943-1986

4. Family Papers, circa 1890-1986

5. Affiliations: Schools, Civic Associations, and Religious Institutions, 1931-1987

6. Photographic Materials, circa 1910-1980

7. Various Materials, 1944-1987

Related Materials

Book: Fields, Mamie Garvin and Karen Fields. Lemon Swamp and Other Places: A Carolina Memoir. New York: The Free Press, 1983.

Acquisition Note

Papers donated by Alfred B. Fields

Processing Information

Reprocessed by Georgette Mayo, May 2014

Edited by Aaron Spelbring, May 2014

Encoded by Aaron Spelbring, May 2014

Source

Title
Mamie E. Garvin Fields Papers AMN 1023
Status
Completed
Author
Finding aid prepared by Georgette Mayo
Date
May 2014
Description rules
DACS
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin
Language of description note
English

Revision Statements

  • May 2014: Finding aid was revised.

Repository Details

Part of the Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture Repository

Contact:
125 Bull Street
Charleston South Carolina 29424 United States
843-953-7608