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Esther Kaplan Pivnick collection

Identifier: AMN 1138

Collection Overview

The collection is divided into ten series:

NOTE: The majority of this collection contains photocopied documents. Dates indicated are derived from the date of document. Original documents are noted as such.

Series 1. Manuscripts of "Immigrants, Carpetbagger, South Carolinians: A Particular History of the Andell Family on Johns Island, S.C. (1865-1932)" Contains numerous typed versions of drafts (some complete, many scattered) of the first three to four chapters of the intended book (never published). Also includes editor's copies with notations.

Series 2: Research Materials: Johns Island Family Histories Holds extensive materials: handwritten and typed notes; photocopies of legal documents; newspaper clippings, maps, brief photographs, with genealogical charts and information pertaining to the Andell, Seabrook, Gregg, Mitchell, Schaffer, Whaley, Roper and Bryan families. These families either established, inhabited, or were associated with Johns, Edisto, Wadmalaw, Kiawah, and Seabrook Islands. Of note are five (5) original letters written by William Andell (dated 4 February 1886, 6 May 1886, 17 December 1897, and undated). Also included are brief documents regarding Andell descendant, Elizabeth "Betty" Stringfellow. A subgroup of Seabrook Island holds typescripts regarding the acquisition of the Andell, Kiawato, and Seabrook properties to attorney, Victor Morawetz. Also included are maps, plats, surveys, photocopied legal documents pertaining to the transference of the Andell property to Seabrook Island; and documents pertaining to Camp Saint Christopher and the Seabrook Island Natural History group in which Pivnick and Stringfellow were affiliated with.

Series 3: Research Materials: Johns Island Plantation Owners Contains various typed listings of "Plantations on Johns Island, 1860," "Plantations returned to owners after the (Civil) War," and "Other residents of Johns Island." All listings were eventually published in the book, A Place Called St. John's.. Also included are Pivnick's extensive research of Sea Island plantation owners and families, some with genealogical information, records of ownership and transference of land.

Series 4: Research Materials: Education in South Carolina and Johns Island Contains documents pertaining to The Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, commonly referred to as The Freedmen's Bureau; it's history on Johns Island and South Carolina, with photocopied letters; Bureau policies and bills; newspaper articles; book excerpts and journal essays, with Pivnick's handwritten and typed notes. A sub-series of Freedmen's Bureau schoolteachers, includes materials pertaining to Mary A. Sharp, a teacher from the Methodist Missionary Society of Philadelphia, who taught African-Americans at Walnut Hill School House on Johns Island (circa 1865). Some folders include photocopied diaries and transcripts from published books. Education on Johns Island includes materials relating to the work of Septima Clark and Esau Jenkins and The Citizenship School; and elementary and high schools established on the Island. Education in South Carolina contains reports, photocopied journal essays and book excerpts.

Series 5: Research Materials: African-American Families on Johns Island, South Carolina Holds family histories, some with genealogical charts, of those who worked and/or lived on the Andell Farm. Highlighted are members of the Freeman, Gilliard, Heyward, Qualls, Jr., Simmons, and Washington Families. Also included are interview transcripts with Robert Taylor and Maria Flood McNeil, discussing the Masonic Lodge, Johns Island Society, Saint Paul Hall, Johns Island Band (circa 1910-1930), Jenkins Point, with brief account of a "African Ring Dance on the Andell Farm," and midwifery. Sub-series includes documents pertaining to African-American churches (Greater St. Johns Methodist Episcopal, Hebron and Zion Presbyterian), funeral traditions and cemeteries; farmers and Lowcountry communities, with various newspaper clippings.

Series 6: Research Materials: Johns Island and Lowcountry Locations Holds various documents and geographical information pertaining to Johns, Edisto, Wadmalaw/Rockville and Kiawah Islands; Charleston, James Island, Folly Beach, Mt. Pleasant, Sullivans Island (formerly Moutrieville); and Beaufort County. Also included are photocopied and hand drawn maps by Pivnick of "Charles-Town," circa 1711; Civil War battle regions and of the Atlantic World.

Series 7: Various Research Materials Contains documents created and used in the writing of the manuscript, "Immigrants, Carpetbaggers, South Carolinians." Includes timelines, subject files, photocopied book excerpts, essays, and historic newspapers (circa 1718-1956), cultural institution newsletters and brochures and Pivnick's notes on books and her research.

Series 8: Correspondence Holds business and personal letters mostly sent to Pivnick, with some addressed to Stringfellow. Many letters pertain to their research.

Series 9: Audio-Visual Materials Contains mostly audio cassette tapes, many with oral histories conducted by Stringfellow and Pivnick. Of note is a audio recording of Guy Carawan at the Avery Research Center (dated December 1987), featuring a brief talk by Bernice Robinson discussing Esau Jenkins and the Johns Island Citizenship School; Carawan singing several songs including variations of "We Shall Over Come;" folktales by Janie Hunter's daughter; and welcome by Dr. Myrtle Glascoe, Avery's first director. Several tapes contain Stringfellow's "Life on John's Island" presentations to the Elderhostel program regarding Johns Island history.

Series 10: Oversize Materials: Maps Contains aerial map of Johns Island; soil system map of Charleston County, South Carolina, Stono and North Edisto Rivers; large hand drawn maps of Johns Island plantations and the Charleston peninsula; and Town of Seabrook Island flood and evacuation route map.


  • Creation: 1663-2000, undated
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1863-1999


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

Esther Beatrice Kaplan Pivnick (1913-2001), a graduate of Brooklyn College with a degree in Biology (1933). After working with her father Charles Kaplan, a garment design teacher in the New York City public schools, Esther taught patternmaking at the Traphagen School of Fashion. She also worked on Seventh Avenue (New York's garment district) as a patternmaker, assistant designer and production assistant. Pivnick authored How to Make Beautiful Clothes (1949); and Fundamentals of Patternmaking for Women's Apparel, Book I and II,(1955, 1958). Married to Harold Pivnick, a physician, the couple relocated to Johns Island, South Carolina from Cold Spring Harbor, New York in the 1970s. Inspired by the natural habitat of her new Lowcountry home, Pivnick conceived the Seabrook Island Natural History Group (SINHG). Pivnick met local historian, Elizabeth (Betty) Stringfellow through SINHG. The women eventually planned work on an book which would tell the history of Stringfellow's family, the Andells, with a historical and cultural narrative of the former St. John's Parish.

Elizabeth Stringfellow (1920-) was born on Seabrook Island to William and Marie Andell Hamilton. Her great-uncle Charles "Charlie" Andell, an German immigrant, was the first Andell to seek his fortune in land ownership on Seabrook Island in 1868. In 1876, his brother William (Stringfellow's grandfather), left New York City to locate Charles and found opportunity on the island. By 1880, the William Andell family became major property owners of approximately 4,000 acres known as the Andell Bluff Plantation. The property encompassed the entire Seabrook Island and part of the southern part of Johns Island. Known for its Sea Island Cotton and cattle ranching, the land remained in the family throughout the majority of the 20th century.


8.0 linear feet (17 archival boxes with 1 oversize folder)

Language of Materials



Esther Kaplan Pivnick (1913-2001), a former patternmaker from New York, retired on Johns Island, South Carolina in the mid-1970s. Along with historian Elizabeth "Betty" Stringfellow, she embarked on an ambitious project to write an inclusive history of Johns Island, (the largest Sea Island in South Carolina, approximately thirty miles south of Charleston), and incorporating the adjoining islands of Edisto, Wadmalaw, Kiawah and Seabrook. Their goal was to write a "peoples' history" of white and African-American island residents stressing the rich cultural heritage of the Sea Islands, highlighting Stringfellow's ancestors, the Andells. While the joint effort was never completed, Stringfellow eventually authored A Place Called St. John's with historian Laylon Wayne Jordan, published in 1998.

This collection contains extensive materials which informed Pivnick and Stringfellow's research for a proposed book with the working title of, "Immigrants, Carpetbaggers: South Carolinians: A Particular History of the Andell Family on Johns Island, South Carolina (1865-1932)." The majority of the collection contains photocopied documents, notes and interview transcripts created and/or collected in the research of the book: typescripts; handwritten and typed notes; photocopies of letters, legal documents, book excerpts and journal essays, newspaper and magazine articles; transcripts of oral histories; genealogical charts, maps, spanning the Native American origins of the Islands to the 20th century. Included are documents relating the Civil War battles on Johns Island; family histories of both plantation owners and African-Americans, education on the Island after the Civil War, including the work of the Freedmen's Bureau and their teachers; and cassette audio recordings of Pivnick and Stringfellow lectures and discussions on Johns Island history.

Collection Arrangement

Series 1: Manuscripts of "Immigrants, Carpetbagger, South Carolinians: A Particular History of the Andell Family on John Island, S.C. (1865-1932)"

Series 2: Research Materials: Johns Island Family Histories

Series 3: Research Materials: Johns Island Plantation Owners

Series 4: Research Materials: Education in South Carolina and on Johns Island

Series 5: Research Materials: African-American Families on Johns Island, South Carolina

Series 6: Research Materials: Johns Island and Lowcountry Locations

Series 7: Various Research Materials

Series 8: Correspondence

Series 9: Audio-Visual Materials

Series 10: Oversize Materials: Maps

Other Finding Aids note

Book: Laylon Wayne Jordan and Elizabeth H. Stringfellow. A Place Called St. John's: The Story of John's, Edisto, Wadmalaw, Kiawah, and Seabrook Islands of South Carolina. . Spartanburg, South Carolina: The Reprint Company, Publishers, 1998.

Book: Stringfellow, Elizabeth H. Betty Stringfellow's Stories & Legends of John's Island South Carolina. South Carolina: Stringfellow, 2004.

Processing Information

Processed by Georgette Mayo, November 2014

Edited by Aaron Spelbring, May 2015

Encoded by Aaron Spelbring, May 2015

Inventory of the Esther Kaplan Pivnick Collection AMN 1138
Under Revision
Finding aid prepared by Georgette Mayo
November 2014
Description rules
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is in English

Repository Details

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

125 Bull Street
Charleston South Carolina 29424 United States