A Charleston woman who died two years ago has left $100,000 for the Avery Research Center at the College of Charleston.
Vivienne Carlotta Edwards Anderson was one of the charter members of the Avery Institute of Afro-American History and Culture and continued to support the research center until her death in 2005.
Marvin Dulaney, executive director at Avery, said the endowment will be used for a student internship program, and it will also help the center buy artifacts and exclusive items, such as old slave badges unique to the Charleston area. The badges were once used to identify slaves hired to work away from their owners. They can cost thousands of dollars.
The Avery Research Center for African-American History and Culture works to document and archive the history and culture of Lowcountry blacks. The former Avery Normal Institute building houses the center. The school was founded in the post-Civil War era for freed blacks but closed in 1954.
Anderson and other Avery Normal Institute graduates organized in 1978 to raise money to buy the school and help establish the research center.
Dulaney described Anderson as a "very bright and persistent lady" who avidly supported Avery efforts. "This was something that she loved. She was really into preserving history and culture, particularly African-American history and culture."
Born in 1914 to Jacob Francis Edwards Sr. and Susanna Simmons, Anderson shone at the Avery Normal Institute as an honor roll student and active participant in cultural arts programs. She graduated in 1933.
Anderson left for school in New York where she attended Hunter College and New York University. She later went to Wayne University in Michigan. She received a certificate in millinery from Pratt Institute in New York and later became certified as a medical assistant from Allen School, also in New York.
Anderson dabbled in various fields throughout her life. She had worked at Veterans Affairs hospitals in New York and Charleston, was a social worker and retired from the Army as an accounting technician.
While in New York, Anderson ran her own tailor shop. Leila Potts-Campbell, associate director at Avery, said the seamstress left behind furs, designer clothes and antique furniture when she died, though Potts-Campbell is unsure where Anderson's wealth came from.
Anderson had been married twice but had no children. She attended Plymouth Congregational United Church of Christ on Spring Street.