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Lucille Simmons Whipper papers

Identifier: AMN 1146

Scope and Contents

Each series contains multiple subseries in which detailed descriptions are provided in each introduction.

Series 1. Biographical Documents (1944-2015, and undated)holds resumes, vitas and biographical sketches; oral interview transcripts and essays about Whipper; tributes and honors which includes honorary degrees, the South Carolina Black Hall of Fame, and the BellSouth-South Carolina African American History Calendar honoree (also refer to Series 10: Awards. Various recognitions are throughout the collection); writings and speech transcripts (many handwritten) deliver to her professional, educational, and religious activities; personal materials holding financial statements, date books and appointment calendars; and documents pertaining to her academic years and alumni affiliations at Avery Institute and Talladega College, with correspondence pertaining to their alumni association.

Series 2. Political Career (circa 1980-2000, and undated) The largest series of this collection extensively details Whipper's year in the South Carolina legislative as House of Representative for Charleston's District 109, from 1985-1995. The main subseries are: Campaigns and Elections; State of South Carolina: Executive Branch; State of South Carolina: Judicial Branch; and State of South Carolina: Legislative Branch. There are numerous subseries within each which holds correspondence, legislative bills and journals, session reports, and various documents from the committees Whipper served on including: Medical, Military, Public and Municipal Affairs Committee; Labor, Commerce and Industry Committee; Rules Committee; Joint Committee on Energy; Joint Committee on Energy; Joint Committee on State Employees and the Human Affairs Commission, along with the various boards, commissions, South Carolina State departments, academic institutions, legislative conferences, caucuses, and political organizations, Charleston and South Carolina departments and organizations. Of note is the subseries, pertaining to the various revisions of the Martial Rape Bill, which was initiated in part by Senator Herbert Fielding in 1986, and followed by Whipper in 1987. In support of Senator Herbert Fielding's bill (S.47), Whipper co-wrote this legislation which "provides that a person is guilty of criminal sexual conduct if the victim is his legal spouse and the actor's conduct constitutes criminal sexual conduct in the first or second degree. The bill would have made it against the law in South Carolina for a man to rape his wife, even if they are living together. Prior to the bill, a couple had to be legally separated in order for a spouse to be charged with rape." Due to the length of passage, the bills span several legislative sessions. Also included are various bills written by Whipper during Session 107. South Carolina Legislative Black Caucus: Redistricting and Reapportionment (1989-1996), which holds correspondence, meeting minutes, photocopies of various court cases Whipper was involved with, and the reports regarding Congressional Reapportionment Plans.

Series 3. Academic Career (1955-2014) This series (with subseries) includes correspondence, reports, event programs, and booklets from the positions held by Whipper prior to her political career. Includes the subseries: Bonds-Wilson High School; Burke High School; College of Charleston, and Charleston County School District; Elementary and Secondary School. Of note is the scrapbook and correspondence pertaining to Whipper's educational initiative "Operation Catch-Up" (Summer 1967).

Series 4: Religious Affiliations and Organizations (1950-2016, and undated) The second largest series (with multiple subseries) in this collection features Whipper's involvement with the National Baptist Convention, U.S.A., and it's various conventions, auxiliaries and committees. This includes the South Carolina Baptist Convention, and in particular, the Women's Baptist Educational and Missionary Convention (WBEMC) in which Whipper served as the first Vice-President (1999-2004), and State President (2004-2009). The series holds correspondence, reports, meeting minutes, financial documents, study guides, Annual Session minutes and programs, journals and newsletters. In 2001, Whipper initiated a project to document the WBEMC's history. This subseries contains grant proposals, correspondence, oral history transcripts, manuscript drafts, photographs, press releases, and newspaper articles. The culmination of this history project resulted in the publication, "Born to Serve: A History of the Woman's Baptist Educational and Missionary Convention of South Carolina" (2006). The series also holds materials from various Baptist churches (including Morris Street and Saint Matthew's), and various denominational churches; documents pertaining to Morris College (Sumter) and Benedict College (Columbia), which are Baptist Educational and Missionary sponsored educational institutions in South Carolina. This series also contains photographic albums, audio cassettes, and VHS recording tapes.

Series 5: Civic, Community and Social Involvement (circa 1913-2015, and undated) Holds correspondence, reports, meeting minutes, newsletters, event flyers, and brochures pertaining to Whipper's various Board of Trustee, commission, and committee positions, along with her extensive civic and social involvement. Holds the subseries: Charleston County School District (CCSD); Mayor's Advisory Committee on Human Relations: City of Charleston Departments and Committees; Charleston County Bicentennial Committee; South Carolina International Women's Year; Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture; Young Women's Christian Association of Greater Charleston (YWCA); Board of Trustee Appointments; Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated; Charleston Chapter of Links, Incorporated; Charleston and South Carolina Organizations; and National Association Affiliations.

Series 6: Personal Correspondence: (1965-2014, and undated) Holds letters, note cards, invitations, and greeting cards, to and from Whipper from businesses, organizations, colleagues, and friends. Organized by year.

Series 7: Stroud, Simmons, Edley, and Whipper Families (1926-2015, and undated) Contains documents in subseries from Lucille Whipper's families. Includes correspondence, resolutions, tributes, and newspaper articles pertaining to her spouse, the Reverend Dr. Benjamin James Whipper, relating to his passing in 1998, and the subsequent memorial funds and scholarship established in his honor. Also contains brief information on William James Whipper (1834-1907), an attorney, abolitionist, and South Carolina State Senator (1873), who is Lucille Whipper's relative by marriage.

Series 8: Photographic Images and Audio Visual Recordings (circa 1900-2010, and undated) Contains photographs of Whipper, during her youth, House of Representative years, and church events, in addition to family and friends. The majority of images are unidentified. Also hold VHS video tape recordings of South Carolina (SCETV) Capitol View, in which Whipper is featured, along with cassette tape recordings of "Portfolio of State Issues," and "View from the Statehouse."

Series 9: Funeral Obsequies and Event Program (1950-2015, and undated) Holds funeral programs of Whipper's friends and church members (organized in alphabetical order). Also contains guest books, and event programs from which Whipper, or her family participated or attended. Included are programs from Broadway plays, convocation commencements, family reunions, art exhibits, and community events; organized by year.

Series 10: Artifacts: Awards (1987-2015) Contains honors of achievement and recognition received by Whipper during her House of Representatives tenure, along with her civic and social work. Includes the subseries: Legislative and Political Organizations; Baptist Organizations; Women's Organizations; Black History Month; and Various Awards. The awards are dismantled from their original plaques.

Series 11: Various Documents and Ephemera (1970-2014, and undated) Contains various documents and ephemera collected by Whipper. Includes educational materials which Whipper used in her talks and speeches, particularly for Black History Month. Also includes a people subject file with South Carolina Legislators holding biographical sketches, correspondence, campaign brochures, event programs, and newspaper and magazine articles on individuals important to Whipper. Contains subseries on Ruby Pendergrass Cornwell, a Charlestonian educator and civil rights activist, holding event programs and newspaper articles regarding her 100th birthday, with Whipper's speech transcript; and The Election and Presidency of Barack Hussein Obama holding campaign ephemera, newspaper articles, and magazines related to his election and first years in office.

Series 12: Oversize Materials (1966-1996) Contains a mixture of large campaign posters from Whipper's legislative campaign, with various car bumper stickers and ephemera.


  • Creation: 1900-2016, undated


Language of Materials

Material is in English.

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

Lucille Alethia Simmons (Whipper) was born on June 6, 1928 in Charleston, South Carolina to Sarah Marie and Joseph Simmons. She was raised in the East Side neighborhood of Ansonborough (also referred to as "The Borough") and attended private and public schools in the city, including Avery Institute (graduating in 1944).

Simmons attended Talladega College in Alabama, where she received her B.A. degree in Economics and Sociology. She earned a M.A. degree in Political Science from the University of Chicago (1955), and on her return to Charleston, a certification in Guidance Counseling at South Carolina State University and the University of South Carolina. During her academic career, she would serve as Guidance Counselor at Bonds-Wilson and Burke High Schools. She also served on the Charleston County 10 Constituent School Board (1978-1982). In 1957, Lucille Simmons married her second husband, the Reverend Dr. Benjamin Whipper, who pastored both Saint Matthew Baptist Church, and Charity Baptist Church.

The College of Charleston, which barred Whipper and her Avery classmates college applications in the 1940s, hired her as Director of the Office of Human Relations and Assistant to the President in 1972. Under the administration of Dr. Theodore S. Stern, Whipper became the College's first African American administrator who developed its first affirmative action plan. In 1975, Whipper briefly left to work as director of Project ESSA (Elementary and Secondary School Aid Act) through the Charleston County School District. Whipper returned to her College of Charleston position in 1977, and retired in 1981.

Upon the urgency of Margaretta P. Childs, a former archivist for the City of Charleston, who was concerned about the demise of the Avery Institute structure, Whipper was motivated to assist in saving the institution. In response, she co-founded the Avery Institute of Afro-American History and Culture (AIAAHC) in 1978. With the concerted effects of civic and political entities, including the Charleston Chapter of Links, Incorporated, Avery Institute graduates, College of Charleston administration, and faculty joined Whipper in lobbying the South Carolina State House for the representation of African American history in the South Carolina Lowcountry. The AIAAHC'S goal was successfully reached with the establishment of the Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture in 1985. This state supported institution under the auspices of the College of Charleston serves as a historic site, archives, museum, and forum for academic and public programming.

In 1985, Whipper became the first African-American female to be elected to the State of South Carolina House of Representatives from the Tri-County area (Charleston, Dorchester, and Berkeley Counties), serving District 109. During her ten year tenure (1986-1996), Whipper held membership on various committees, including the Labor, Commerce and Industry Committee; the House Rules Committee; and the Medical, Military, Public and Municipal Affairs Committee. Honorable Whipper sponsored legislation to make marital rape a crime, and required the monitoring of state agencies' hiring goals for minorities and females. Her considerable lobbying efforts among her colleagues led to the opening of the Citadel to women. Whipper believes that her House of Representatives tenure was "a continuation of the civil rights and women's movements, supporting health care, advocating for more funding for foster and childcare, affirmative action, education reform and consumer rights." She was named "Legislator of the Year," in 1992.

As a devout religious leader, Whipper served as Minister of Music to Saint Matthew Baptist Church. Her involvement with The Baptist Educational and Missionary Convention of South Carolina (National Baptist Convention, U.S.A.), and in particular, The Woman's Baptist Educational and Missionary Convention of SC is extensive. Within the latter organization, Whipper served as its Vice President, Chairman of the Social Concerns Committee, and Convention Organist. In 2004, Whipper was elected as the organization's president. As the leader of one of the state's largest religious organizations of African American women, Whipper served on the Board of Trustees of Benedict College and Morris College. During her tenure, Whipper directed the Woman's History Project to documenting the organization's past, and culminating in the book, "Born to Serve: A History of the Woman's Baptist Educational and Missionary Convention of South Carolina."

Honorable Whipper's numerous honors and awards include: Doctor of Letters from Morris College (1989), and the University of Charleston (1992); induction into the South Carolina Black Hall of Fame (1995); the State of South Carolina's Order of the Palmetto (1996), the College of Charleston's inaugural EXCEL Award for distinguished service (1998), and Doctorate of Humane Letters from the College of Charleston (2008). In 2006, a portion for a Charleston highway was dedicated and named the "Lucille S. Whipper Interchange" in her honor.

The Honorable Dr. Lucille Simmons Whipper passed on August 27, 2021.


80.02 linear feet (approximately 182 archival boxes; 3 oversize boxes) : includes photographs and audio visual recordings


Lucille Simmons Whipper (1928-2021), an educator, guidance counselor, academic administrator, community, and religious leader and the first African-American woman to serve as an State of South Carolina House of Representatives in Charleston's District 109 (1986-1996). She exercised her activism with her graduating class at Avery Institute in their attempts to desegregate the College of Charleston in 1944. Decades later, Whipper was instrumental in working with the State of South Carolina and the College of Charleston to obtain the former Avery Institute site to establish the Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture. Early in her industrious career, Whipper taught in various public schools (Bonds-Wilson, North Charleston, and Haut Gap Middle School, Johns Island); was a academic director of a school program at Burke High School (Charleston, South Carolina); served as a trustee on the Charleston County School District 20 Constituent Board; and was the first African American woman to serve as an elected official from the Tri-County area (District 109) to the South Carolina House of Representatives.

This extensive collection holds twelve series (with numerous sub-series) which highlight Whipper's academic and political careers; her religious, civic and social affiliations; with personal and family papers. The "Political Career" series holds the majority of documents, (including correspondence, legislative bills, and reports). The second largest series is Whipper's "Religious Affiliations and Organizations," which details her association with the Baptist Church (National Baptist Convention, U.S.A.) and in particular, the Woman's Baptist Educational and Missionary Convention (WBEMC) of South Carolina, which holds correspondence, meeting minutes, Annual Session minutes and programs, financial reports, grant proposals, journals and newsletters. The remaining series holds various documents and materials including history transcripts and essays about Whipper; tributes and honors, writings and transcripts of her speeches; family documents; photographs and audio-visual recordings and political ephemera.

Related Materials

Woman's Baptist Educational and Missionary Convention of South Carolina papers (AMN 1037)

Benjamin J. Whipper, Sr., papers (AMN 1147)

Charleston SC Chapter of The Links, Incorporated papers (AMN 1016)

Book: W. Marvin Dulaney, Editor, with Damon Fordham and Muima A. Shinault-Small. Born to Serve: A History of the Woman's Baptist Educational and Missionary Convention of South Carolina. Atlanta, Georgia: Publishing Associates, Inc., 2006.

Processing Information

Finding aid processed, written and edited by Georgette Mayo 2018-2021.

Inventory of the Lucille Simmons Whipper papers, 1900-2016, undated
Under Revision
Georgette Mayo
Description rules
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

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

125 Bull Street
Charleston South Carolina 29424 United States