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Published on October 14th, 2015 | by Millennium Magazine Staff


Smalls African American Funeral Program Collection

By Carla J. Smalls


                         Carla J. Smalls

You attended your loved one’s funeral and returned home with a copy of the funeral program. For days maybe months after the service, you looked at the program lovingly as it evokes memories of the deceased.  But as time passes, that funeral program is pulled out less often and many times placed in a drawer or a box in the back of the closet.  Wouldn’t you prefer to put your funeral program in a place where it can be stored, protected and made available for review for current and future generations?

There is a place for your funeral programs that will keep them safe as well as provide a foundation for genealogy research.  African American funeral programs are unique to our community in that they contain the name of the deceased, birth and death dates, photographs, an obituary, the order of service, the name of the officiating minister, and the names of the church, cemetery, and funeral home. The obituary is a short biography of the deceased and contains information on names of parents, children, other relatives, education, work history, and church and organization affiliations. Since African American genealogy search is often challenging, these funeral programs contain a mini-history that should be preserved and made available to family members, historians and researchers.

The Louis Bryan Smalls African American Funeral Program Collection is a permanent repository for African American funeral programs of individuals who are natives of South Carolina or have ties to the state. The collection is named for Mr. Smalls (September 14, 1918-January 8, 2015) who was an educator and a life-long resident of Georgetown, South Carolina and is stored at the South Caroliniana Library, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC.

All persons who have African American funeral programs are invited to donate these programs to this Collection.  Your donations may be sent to Nathan Saunders, The South Caroliniana Library, 910 Sumter Street, Columbia, SC 29208.

Carla J. Smalls is a native of South Carolina.



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