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Jul 19, 2018

African American Newspaper Online: The Palmetto Leader, News Reported from South Carolina and Other States

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Recently, I was going through the official site of Richland Library in Columbia when I noticed there is an online version of The Palmetto Leader. It has been added as part of the newspaper collection digitized by University of South Carolina. To have this African American newspaper free to browse online is wonderful! I can search the newspaper in place my ancestor lived in South Carolina or outside then use The Palmetto Leader to find more articles.

I have been through this whole paper over 10 years ago, but I need to go through it again. I can trace more of my family across the state. I actually found 46 articles on my great great grandfather, Rev. Lafayette Franklin Vance. He was a presiding elder for the AME Church, and I was able to find documentation for him in several places he served in the state.

You can search for articles in different states and in South Carolina to get a feel for how far it covered news. In addition to reading the articles in Columbia, you can pick up articles from Greenwood and Charleston and get another account of the happenings in those places as told by The Palmetto Leader.  See the samples from different places below.

North Carolina

Dr. C. A. Chick, Sr. was born in Newberry County, South Carolina then went to Benedict College in Columbia, South Carolina. His timeline is not complete because I found references to him attending school in Virginia. Because I was able to search The Palmetto Leader online, I discovered more articles referencing him:


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C. A. Chick, Vice President, (The Palmetto Leader), Columbia, South Carolina, 26 November 1955, Page 1, Column 3,, Historic Newspapers of South Carolina,


While he taught economics at Fayetteville Teacher’s College in Fayetteville, North Carolina, He had a regular column in The Palmetto Leader that he contributed to until his death. It was called In This Our Day:


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C. A. Chick, The Stability of Government: A Factor in the Economic and Social Well-Being, (The Palmetto Leader), Columbia, South Carolina, 15 October 1955, Page 4, Column 3,, Historic Newspapers of South Carolina,



Frank Williams of Atlanta, Georgia wrote editorials and newsletters for The Palmetto Leader in Columbia. He was a student of Allen University and well known in Columbia:


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W. Frank Williams, Writes for Leader, (The Palmetto Leader), Columbia, South Carolina, 10 January 1925, Page 2, Column 2, , Historic Newspapers of South Carolina,
W. Frank Williams, Writes for Leader, (The Palmetto Leader), Columbia, South Carolina, 10 January 1925, Page 2, Column 2, <>, Historic Newspapers of South Carolina,



An article from Richmond, Virginia included in the WPA told of the Negro Baptist Church worth one million dollars. It briefly recounted the history from 1773: 


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Virginia, Growth of Negro Baptist Church to One Hundred Million Dollar Institution Told in WPA Study, (The Palmetto Leader), Columbia, South Carolina, 23 November 1940 Page 6, Column 4, <>, Historic Newspapers of South Carolina,


South Carolina

The Palmetto Leader is replete with obituaries and memoriams. In addition to that, it has articles about where Baptists and Methodists were serving across the state of South Carolina. I found another place Rev. L. F. Vance served. In May 1939, he was in Prosperity, South Carolina. Mt. Olive A. M. E. Church appreciated the leadership of Rev. L. F. Vance and his wife:


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Rev. L. F. Vance, Mt. Olive A. M. E. Church, (The Palmetto Leader), Columbia, South Carolina, 13 May 1939, Page 5, Column 3, <>, Historic Newspapers of South Carolina,


Hopefully, this exercise in seeing examples of articles from different places will help you to understand that The Palmetto Leader brought news to Columbia from all over. If you cannot find you ancestor in a local paper, chances are they could be in The Palmetto Leader. News from Northern states like Michigan and Ohio were also included. Other southern states like Tennessee and Alabama have articles.

Sharpen the Saw

Try to find your ancestor in The Palmetto Leader. Where did they live? What were they involved in that made them of interest to the readers? Let us know how you did with this challenge in our Facebook Group.