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Distinguished Speakers Series

New This Year

Join us as scholars and thought leaders from across the nation travel to Charleston for the launch of the new Drayton Hall Distinguished Speakers Series. Beginning with the opening event of the 2014 season, which includes a look at how 3D modeling technology is creating virtual reconstructions of historic sites, you’ll experience a range of thought-provoking presentations related to colonial history and culture by many of today’s most respected historians, archaeologists, and curators. Speakers will also reflect on Drayton Hall as it relates to their research interests and will answer questions from the audience.

Spring Series

February through April,
every third Thursday at 7:00pm.

Fall Series

September through November,
every third Thursday at 7:00pm.

These events are free to members and their guests.
Presentations start promptly at 7:00pm; doors open by 6:30pm.
No advance reservations; please arrive early as seating is limited.
A dessert reception by Brown’s Court Bakery will follow.


For more information about Drayton Hall’s Distinguished Speakers Series, including
sponsorship opportunities, please contact Tara White, development events coordinator,
at 843-769-2627 or twhite@draytonhall.org


Join us! Become a member
of Drayton Hall now.

Spring 2014 Speakers

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February 20, 2014

Michael Jarvis

Michael Jarvis

Shaftesbury, Bermuda, and the Settlement of Carolina,
or the Other Important B-island in South Carolina’s History

Associate Professor of History and Director of Undergraduate Studies at the University of Rochester, Michael Jarvis is an archaeologist and historian investigating inter-colonial Atlantic connections and networks by studying small-scale entrepreneurial seafarers and the self-organized and often trans-imperial trade circuits they created. A social historian at heart, he also studies port communities, architecture and material culture, maritime environments and work, and non-plantation slavery in the Greater Caribbean. Most recently his research has taken a digital turn: he is building an interactive 2D and 3D Virtual St. George’s (Bermuda), where time travelling visitors can explore critical Atlantic institutions, activities, and events on a local level. He also runs a historical archaeology field school in Bermuda each summer, excavating early 17th- to mid-19th-century sites.

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March 20, 2014

Mary Beth Norton

Mary Beth Norton

Beyond Boston: The Fate of the Seven Tea Ships of 1773

Mary Beth Norton is the Mary Donlon Alger Professor of American History at Cornell University, where she has taught since 1971 and where she is also Stephen H. Weiss Presidential Fellow. In 2005-6, she was Pitt Professor of American History and Institutions at the University of Cambridge. Active in professional associations, she has received four honorary degrees and has held fellowships from the Rockefeller, Guggenheim, Mellon, and Starr Foundations, as well as from Princeton University and the Huntington Library. She has been elected a member of both the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Philosophical Society. She is currently working on a new book on the period immediately preceding the outbreak of fighting in the American Revolution. Known for her cutting-edge research and scholarship, spirited narratives, and ability to engage students of all ages, Dr. Norton will speak about her recent research into the Colonial Tea Party resistance movement.

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April 17, 2014

S. Max Edelson

S. Max Edelson

Mapping Carolina: Cartography and the Quest
for Empire in the Colonial Southeast

S. Max Edelson is Associate Professor of History and Director of Graduate Studies at the Corcoran Department of History at the University of Virginia, where he co-directs the UVA-Monticello Early American Seminar. His research focuses on colonial British America and the Atlantic world. His first book, Plantation Enterprise in Colonial South Carolina (Harvard, 2006) examines the relationship between planters and the Lowcountry environment as the key to understanding a society that was as repressive as it was prosperous. His forthcoming book, The New Map of Empire: How Britain Imagined America Before Independence (Harvard, 2015), examines the importance of cartography to American empire. With support from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Edelson has developed MapScholar, an interactive visualization tool to display historic map collections online.

Fall 2014 Speakers

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September 18, 2014

Ronald L. Hurst

Ronald L. Hurst

A Rich and Varied Culture:
The Material World of the Early South

Ronald L. Hurst is the Vice President for Collections, Conservation, & Museums and The Carlisle H. Humelsine Chief Curator at The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. He oversees the foundation’s curatorial operations, educational conferences, conservation, architectural preservation, and museum operations, including direction of the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum and the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum. The collections under his care encompass thousands of examples of British and American fine, decorative, and folk art, millions of archaeological artifacts, and thousands of architectural elements. Hurst has published articles and essays and curated multiple exhibitions relating to history and material culture. His most recent exhibit, “A Rich and Varied Culture: The Material World of the Early South,” is the first of its kind in 50 years. Hailed as groundbreaking in previews, it covers the 17th century through 1840 through a spectacular variety of media from four geographic regions of the South. It opens at the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum in February 2014 and includes 27 objects from Drayton Hall’s Collections.

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October 16, 2014

Andrew J. O’Shaughnessy

Andrew J. O’Shaughnessy

The Men Who Lost America: British Leadership,
the American Revolution, and the Fate of the Empire

Andrew O’Shaughnessy is the Saunders Director of the Robert H. Smith International Center for Jefferson Studies at Monticello and Professor of History at the University of Virginia. He is a co-editor of Old World, New World. America and Europe in the Age of Jefferson (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2010) and a co-editor of the Jeffersonian America series published by the University of Virginia Press. He has lectured widely to both scholarly and general audiences and is the author of An Empire Divided: The American Revolution and the British Caribbean (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2000) and The Men Who Lost America (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2013). In writing about how the British lost the war, O’Shaughnessy examines the factors that led to their defeat, and arrives at a fascinating conclusion that he’ll share with our members.

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November 20, 2014

Jill M. Lord

Jill M. Lord

Improvement of the Americas:
The Architecture of Colonial American Libraries

Jill Marie Lord is an independent architectural historian who specializes in nineteenth-century American architecture. She holds a PhD in art history from the Graduate Center, City University of New York, and a MA in architectural history from the University of Virginia. She has taught art history at Hunter College and Brooklyn College. She has lectured at the Mount Vernon Hotel Museum in New York City, Muscarelle Museum of Art, College of William and Mary, Salve Regina University, and Georgia Institute of Technology.

Location & Directions

all programs will be held at

South Carolina Society Hall

72 Meeting Street, Charleston, SC 29401

Ample on-street parking available; please click here for directions.

south carolina society hall was designed by Gabriel Manigault and built between 1799 and 1804; its portico, designed by Frederick Wesner, was added in 1825. Read more about its history and purpose.

Drayton Hall, view from portico, black and white

About Drayton Hall

As members in the Friends of Drayton Hall know, Drayton Hall, circa 1738, is the oldest unrestored plantation house in America that is open to the public, a National Historic Landmark, and a historic site of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. It has survived the Revolutionary and Civil Wars, devastating hurricanes and earthquakes, and seven generations of family life. Today, Drayton Hall’s main house stands alone as the earliest fully executed Palladian structure in America.

When the National Trust acquired Drayton Hall in 1974, it made the decision to “preserve” or stabilize the site. This action—unprecedented in its day—set Drayton Hall on a course unique among historic sites: it preserved its authentic, centuries-old timeline of history rather than restoring it to one specific period. Because it has never been modernized with electric lighting, plumbing, or central heating or air conditioning, the main house remains unfurnished, allowing the beauty of the architectural details to come through.

Through archaeological investigations and ongoing research and study, Drayton Hall has developed a significant collection of 18th- and 19th-century decorative arts and artifacts that is awaiting future facilities. Included is the most significant piece of furniture in Drayton Hall’s collection: a rare, British-made bureau-bookcase, c. 1745. Considered one of the finest examples of furniture to survive from colonial America, it is now on exhibit along with 26 other Drayton Hall collections objects at the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum at Colonial Williamsburg.

Learn more about the many benefits of membership in the Friends of Drayton Hall.

Drayton Hall bureau bookcase, black and white