Penfield College Receives Georgia Humanities Grant for Project on African-American History in Coastal Georgia


ATLANTA – Mercer University’s Penfield College recently received a nearly $2,000 Georgia Humanities grant for a project titled “Telling Our Stories: African-American Life and Culture on St. Simons Island.”

The grant will support the work of students enrolled in research-based, service learning courses on African-American history in coastal Georgia.

For the past five years, Penfield College students have conducted interviews with members of the African-American community on St. Simons Island in collaboration with the St. Simons African-American Heritage Coalition.

Dr. Melanie Pavich, associate professor of interdisciplinary and historical studies and college writing coordinator, serves as project director.

“The goal of this work has been to preserve the history of African-Americans in this area and to make this history more available and visible to a broader public,” said Dr. Pavich. “This year’s project focused on mapping African-American cemeteries on St. Simons. Interviews and digital stories will be centered on families whose ancestors are buried in the cemetery at the former Retreat Plantation.”

This work will be showcased in a public forum held May 20, 1-4 p.m., at the Glynn Visual Arts Center on St. Simons Island. The event is free and open to the public.

Guest speakers will include Dr. Stephen Berry, Gregory Professor of the Civil War Era and co-director of the Center for Virtual History at the University of Georgia, and Dr. Christopher Lawton, executive director of the Georgia Virtual History Project.

“Telling Our Stories: African-American Life and Culture on St. Simons Island” is supported by Georgia Humanities, in partnership with the Georgia Department of Economic Development, through funding from the Georgia General Assembly.

About Penfield College of Mercer University

Penfield College of Mercer University, established as the College of Continuing and Professional Studies in 2003, is committed to serving non-traditional learners and currently enrolls more than 1,300 students. Undergraduate, graduate and certificate programs are offered to working adult learners seeking professional advancement into leadership roles in and beyond their communities. Educational programs provide students with distinctive, multidisciplinary programs that integrate theory and practice. The College offers general education and elective courses for various colleges and schools at Mercer. Another initiative called the Bridge program transitions students enrolled in Mercer’s English Language Institute and other international students to undergraduate programs throughout the University. Areas of study include organizational leadership, counseling, human services, human resources, informatics, criminal justice leadership, nursing preparation, liberal studies, psychology, communication, homeland security and emergency management, and healthcare leadership. Programs are offered on Mercer’s campuses in Atlanta and Macon, as well as multiple regional academic centers in Douglas County, Henry County and Newnan, and online. To learn more, visit