Brattonsville gets award for ‘Sweat of our Brows’

From staff reportsApril 7, 2014 

— The South Carolina African American Heritage Commission has recognized the Culture and Heritage Museums’ “By the Sweat of Our Brows” as a project that significantly influences the preservation and interpretation of African American history and culture.

The 2014 Project Award was presented to York County’s Culture and Heritage Museums on March 28 at the South Carolina Archives & History Center in Columbia.

“By the Sweat of Our Brows” is part of the living history programming at Brattonsville and features the experience of the African-American journey from enslavement to today.

The narrative includes both scholarly research and the collective memories of descendants of Bratton slaves, and endeavors to present a more accurate story about the lives of the enslaved.

Scholarly research for the program began to take root in 2008 when the CHM received an award from the S.C. Humanities Council for the Brattonsville Community Oral History Project. For the oral history project, scholar Lisa M. Bratton conducted oral history interviews within the African-American community at Brattonsville.

The findings were transcribed, cross-referenced and provided to several repositories, with physical items such as photographs and letters.

“I am honored that the staff and volunteers of Historic Brattonsville are now among the distinguished recipients of this award,” said Dontavius Williams, historic interpreter and project coordinator for “By the Sweat of Our Brows.”

“By the Sweat of Our Brows” is a one-day event in September. Historic slave interpreters dressed in 19th century costumes are stationed in the cabins and kitchens of Brattonsville.

The event has included special guests, such as culinary historian Michael Twitty, who did open-hearth cooking demonstrations using food indigenous to York County around 1860; a traditional gospel choir from Mount Zion Baptist Church, which was built in 1867 on land that originally was owned by the Bratton family; award-winning African-American interpreter Kitty Wilson-Evans, who presented a vignette honoring those buried in the “black cemetery;” and Joseph McGill, an officer with the National Trust for Historic Preservation, who spent the night in the only original slave cabin at Historic Brattonsville to raise awareness about the need to preserve such buildings and the stories.

For more information on Culture and Heritage Museums’ Historic Brattonsville, visit

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