Newest Exhibition from LDHI Reflects on Race, Labor, and Food at Civil War’s End

Section Old Market
“Section Old Market,” postcard, Charleston, South Carolina, ca. 1800s, courtesy of the South Carolina Historical Society.

In April 1865, Nat Fuller, a newly free African American cook, hosted what one observer described as a “miscegenation dinner” at his restaurant in Charleston, South Carolina. Fuller’s dinner guests, both black and white, celebrated Emancipation and the end of the U.S. Civil War. A century and a half later, Charleston paid homage to this unique historical event when a group of historians, chefs, and community leaders, led by University of South Carolina professor David Shields recreated Fuller’s “reunification” feast earlier this month.

(Read more about the dinner in the Post and Courier here and view images from the dinner here)

In conjunction with the celebratory dinner, the Lowcountry Digital History Initiative (LDHI) at the College of Charleston premiered its latest digital exhibition, Nat Fuller’s Feast: The Life and Legacy of an Enslaved Cook in Charleston. As explained within its introduction, this fascinating exhibition tells of “Nat Fuller’s influential life, and considers the significance his ‘miscegenation dinner’ held at the end of the Civil War in April 1865.” The exhibit, “follows Fuller’s career providing insights into the social networks and labor systems, as well as the markets and menu items, of Charleston’s elite culinary culture in the 1800s.”

Amanda Noll, the project coordinator for the Lowcountry Digital History Initiative writes, “Nat Fuller’s Feast draws upon LDHI’s mission to highlight underrepresented histories of race, class, gender, and labor in the Lowcountry and historically interconnected Atlantic World. Authors David Shields, University of South Carolina, and Chef Kevin Mitchell, Trident Technical College, collaborated with the LDHI team to create an engaging online exhibition complete with an interactive map to examine the historical connections between urban slavery and food in Charleston.” Noll acknowledges the lasting importance of the new Nat Fuller exhibition, “Long after the commemorative feast in April 2015, LDHI’s online exhibition will serve as a lasting educational resource exploring the legacy of Nat Fuller and the African American influences on the culinary culture of the Lowcountry.”

Check out the newest exhibit from LDHI, Nat Fuller’s Feast, here!