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William Saxon Wilson papers

Identifier: AMN 1038

Scope and Contents

Series 1: Holds Wilson's biographical materials including correspondence, cards, invitations, and event programs pertaining to his violin and band performances at Avery Institute, Carpenter, Harleston and Dart Halls, among other venues. Includes letters, event programs, and certificates regarding Wilson's involvement with Mt. Zion A.M.E. Church, the Knights of Pythias, and as a notary public.

Series 2: The Sax Print Shop series contains photographs of Wilson in his print shop; broadsides from various Charleston African-American businesses and churches; wedding, birthday, party and social invitations; business cards from various Charleston establishments and institutions including The Harleston Studio (photographic, 1922). The series also holds an extensive collection of invitational cards and raffle tickets from Charleston area churches, social and women's clubs, sororities and civic associations; and financial cards and booklets from fraternal orders, societies and praying bands.

Items of note include the Pulpit Aid Society of Central Baptist Church (1915), and Ebenezer Baptist Church materials (1945); programs and booklets from Morris Street Baptist Church, including an Eva Jessye Choir performance (1935); Centenary Methodist Church materials, some featuring Wilson as violinist (1916); and concert programs from Plymouth Congregational Church (1957, 1957). Programs from benevolent and fraternal organizations include the Sons and Daughters of Brotherly Love Society (1945); Queen Vashti Tent Number 28 (1952), and the Gridiron Benevolent Association and Ladies Auxiliary (1963), and a 1922 broadside from the Mourners Band of Eastern Star Number 1. Sax Print Shop materials on Charleston educational institutions and organizations include scattered commencement programs, invitations, cards and programs from student plays and activities (1917-1954, and undated) from Avery Normal Institute; items pertaining to Jenkins Orphanage include a broadside (1910s) regarding a benefit at the New Tabernacle Fourth Baptist Church featuring W.E.B. DuBois and Wilson's Lyceum Orchestra and booklet History of Jenkins Orphanage (1954); documents from various Charleston African-American elementary and high schools including programs and booklets from Immaculate Conception High School (1930-1955); commencement programs and invitations from the Colored Industrial School (1916); the Poro School of Charleston, an African-American cosmetology school (1937), and The Hospital and Training School for Nurses (1923, 1927). Organizational materials include programs from the Fraser Field USO Club (1944-1946); the Cosmopolitan Civic League of Charleston (1944-1945) regarding President Franklin D. Roosevelt, and broadsides and programs from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (N.A.A.C.P.) regarding "mass meetings" (1944, 1956), and the organization's "Charleston Movement" (1963) with a "Black List" broadside containing names of stores and business not employing African-Americans to be boycotted; and "A Day of Mourning for the Children Murdered in Birmingham, Alabama."


  • Creation: 1913-1983
  • Creation: Majority of material found in 1920-1982


Access Restrictions

There are no restrictions to this collection and it is open to the public for research.

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

William Saxton Wilson, printer and musician, was born in 1893 to Mary and Joseph Wilson in Charleston, South Carolina. Wilson was educated at Avery Nornal Institute, and trained as a printer at Hampton Institute, Virginia. He returned to Charleston to establish Sax Print Shop. Known as "Mr. Sax," Wilson was also an accomplished violinist, instructor, and the director of "The Lyceum Orchestra." Additionally, Wilson was active in Mount Zion A.M.E. Church as a trustee and member of the choir, and a member of the Knights of Pythias. He married Irene Gadsden, a seamstress; they reared one daughter, Julia. Wilson passed in 1982.


2.5 linear feet

Language of Materials



The William Saxon Wilson papers mostly consists of business cards, invitations, event programs, broadsides, and various ephemera created in his business, The Sax Print Shop, which document social, church, educational, and other aspects of African-American life in Charleston, South Carolina.

Collection Arrangement

William Saxon Wilson's papers are arranged in the following order:

Series 1: Biographical Materials

Series 2: Sax Print Shop Materials

Processing Information

Originally processed by Georgette Mayo, 2006; revised for ArchivesSpace in 2021 by Georgette Mayo

William Saxon Wilson Papers
Georgette Mayo
Revised February 2021
Description rules
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
The description is written 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