An article printed in the March 29 Post and Courier addressed whether tour guide rules hamper free speech. In January 1973, Mayor Palmer Gaillard, with the help of City Council, authorized Marguerite Steedman and Mrs. Joseph A. Young to teach a course on the history of Charleston.
The text authorized for the course was a compilation of updated records on the history of Charleston by Miss Steedman, Mrs. Young and numerous others. It included a comprehensive inventory of Charleston’s prominent people, places and events. The guide book was entitled, “Historic Information, Charleston, S.C.” It bore the seal of the city.
I registered for the class, led by these two ladies, whose lectures demonstrated their passion for protecting and perpetuating the city’s historical heritage. The guide book challenged me to spend lots of time examining magnificent buildings, stately homes and landscaped gardens, which constituted a citywide collage of contrasting materials, including hand-scored cypress, hand-made brick, custom designed and hand-wrought iron, and delicately carved cornices.
Each item expresses an era of history, and when viewed together they define the fragile character of the city which continues to evolve.
Instead of “hampering my free speech,” this learning experience “enhanced my free speech,” as it allowed me the liberty to interpret the city from a deeper well of information.
This experience also endowed me with confidence based on documented historical facts.
It was a privilege to have taken the course, guided by assignments, tests and ongoing educational requirements that kept me properly informed. Even though I am officially retired, I remain under the influence of the words on the seal of the city of Charleston, Aedes Mores Juraque Curat (She Guards Her Customs, Her Buildings and Her Laws).
Because of the value of Charleston’s history in commemorating and illustrating much of the history of America, we must continue to protect our historical heritage and exert every effort to honor “free speech” while offering the educational opportunities to become informed tour guides.
Tour guide rules are the tools to accomplish this.
Elizabeth B. Godfrey
Marsh Creek Drive