By Sam Alexander, J.A. Kay Graduate Assistant
The PEA/SCEA (Palmetto Education Association and South Carolina Education Association respectively) Collection contains manuscripts and documents relating to PEA during the last two decades of its existence during the 1950s and 1960s, and on its merger into the larger SCEA organization. This folding into SCEA provides insight into race desegregation on a professional basis; prior to 1967, PEA had been the professional organization and union for teachers at all-black schools in South Carolina, while SCEA had been the organization for white teachers.
Most, if not all, of the items in the collection came from Walker E. Solomon, who was the last Executive Secretary of PEA before its merger with SCEA. Even after the merger, Solomon retained a high position in SCEA as an assistant executive secretary. As Solomon held such a high rank in the organization, the documents and manuscripts of the collection are varied. Although many of the documents are for matters such as the minutes of a meeting among PEA’s Board of Directors, they also include documentation of investigations into whether or not school desegregation was leading to many African-American teachers being unfairly fired.
Additionally, many of the items in the collection come from across the country. For example, there are various records which include research performed on different issues in different states, one example being a manuscript which contained the results of a study done on teacher merit pay in the state of North Carolina. This also leads to one of the most interesting items in the collection, a letter on a metal sheet sent in by the Office of the Governor of Illinois.
The large collection contains additional material, such as documents relating to conventions were held by different organizations such as PEA, SCEA, and their parent organization, NEA (National Education Association). Furthermore, there are copies of various journals, newsletters, and magazines that were published by the organizations for their members, and correspondence that details the process PEA went about to acquire advertisers for their journals.
The processing of the collection could not have come at a better time, as 2017 will be the 50th anniversary of the merger of PEA and SCEA.
J.A. Kay, a resident of Atlanta and Dillard, Georgia, established the J.A. Kay South Caroliniana Library Intern Endowment Fund to provide support for internships for graduate or undergraduate students in an appropriate discipline to work with rare and unique research materials and learn state-of-the-art conservation techniques and other professional library skills.