Can You Help Identify These Church Women?

To honor "Black Women in American Culture and History," we are asking for your help in identifying the people in this photograph from the Lucille Hasell Culp Collection.

Church women have always been more powerful than society often credits them. Sometimes women are the "true movers and shakers" within a religious organization. We would like to know more about these women (and the men) and their respective roles at First African Baptist Church in order to share the information with the rest of the world.

I am truly hoping that someone will be able to identify one of these women as Mrs. Eliza Middleton Washington, widow of Julius I. Washington, subject of a Connections post a few days ago.

What do we know about and from the photograph?

  • It's a formal photograph taken on the porch of the First African Baptist Church.
  • Everyone appears to be in their "Sunday clothes."
  • We do not have an exact date the image was taken by Lucille Hasell Culp of Palmetto Studios but given the attire of the people in the photograph we estimate that it was taken during the 1950s or early 1960s.
  • Seven of the women are wearing a ribbon above their right breast. The woman at F4 is blocking the right breast area of the woman at B4 so we cannot know for certain that each of the eight women are wearing a ribbon. However, neither man is wearing a ribbon.

What we cannot tell from the image or Mrs. Culp's notations are the answers to these questions:

1. Does the ribbon represent membership in a specific church group?
2. What are the names of the individuals in this photograph?
3. What was the occasion or event?
4. What was the date this image was taken?

But you might know. If you do know, please let us know! How? Click on the permalink to get to this image hosted by the Lowcountry Digital Library. From that permalink you can zoom in on the individuals to see if you recognize anyone. If you do, please, please, please "Add a Comment" in the Comment section towards the bottom of the page under the image.

About the people in the photograph: It would be very helpful to us if you use this code to indicate who you've recognized. Going left to right:

Front Row: F1. Man with double-breasted suit coat F2. Woman wearing glasses and a corsage F3. Woman wearing a pearl necklace and two bracelets F4. Thin Woman with a floral belt at her waist F5. Woman with a banded hat

Back Row: B1. Woman with glasses, white hair, print dress with white collar B2. Woman wearing dress with lace collar and a brooch with hat B3. Woman with greying hair, glasses and cutwork collared dress B4. Woman in a print dress with a beret B5. Man wearing glasses and a striped shirt in a single-breasted suit coat

As an example, let's say that the woman in the back row at position 4 described as "Woman in a print dress with a beret" is actually your great-aunt Jane Doe. In your comment write: "B4 is Jane Doe."

If you'd like to share more information about her, your relationship to her, or her role at the First African Baptist Church, please do. Just be aware that everything you write may be visible to rest of the world. So if she was an old scold, you may want to keep that to yourself. But if she was a Church mother from 1932 until her death in 1978, we would be glad to have that information in our permanent description of the photographic negative.

About the Author

Grace Cordial has been responsible for the day-to-day operation of the Beaufort District Collection at the Beaufort County Library since 1999.  The Beaufort District Collection exists to acquire, preserve, maintain and make accessible a research collection of permanent value which records the history, culture, and environment of our part of the South Carolina lowcountry.  Besides the research room, Cordial manages the “Virtual BDC:” the BDC web pages, the Online Obituary Index, two digital collections, a new BDC.BCL Facebook page, and the Connections blog.  
Among her duties is to coordinate or present programs about local history, Gullah culture, and our coastal environment, including occasional instructional sessions about how to perform historical and/or genealogical research.