Gregorie, Anne King
As a historian, Gregorie demonstrated the validity of good local history and the importance of local records. Her heritage and training enabled her to present South Carolina’s history with intimacy and insight enriched with anecdotes and tradition.
Historian, teacher, author, editor. Gregorie was born in Savannah, Georgia, on May 20, 1887, the daughter of South Carolina natives Ferdinand Gregorie and Anne Palmer Porcher. Her father was managing plantations in Georgia, but in 1893 returned with his family to Oakland, his father-in-law’s plantation near Mount Pleasant. Gregorie lived at Oakland for the next sixteen years, absorbing the area’s history, folklore, and myths. She attended the local public school, Victory Point Academy, and obtained a scholarship to Winthrop College, which she entered as a sophomore in 1903. Gregorie graduated in 1906 with a Bachelor of Arts degree and a lifetime license to teach in the state’s public schools. After a year of postgraduate study, she embarked on an eleven-year teaching career that took her to schools in Lynchburg, Chester, and, finally, Christ Church Parish. When her mother died in 1918, Gregorie resigned her teaching position, taking over housekeeping for her father and serving his business, F. Gregorie and Sons, as treasurer. This hiatus lasted until 1923, but the five years rekindled her interest in local history.
In 1925 Gregorie embarked on the process of becoming a professional historian. She entered the University of South Carolina and earned a master’s degree a year later. That fall she entered the University of Wisconsin as a full-time graduate student, but returned to the University of South Carolina in January 1927. She taught freshman history courses, took courses herself, and completed her dissertation, a biography of Thomas Sumter. Gregorie graduated in 1929, the first woman to receive a doctorate from the Department of History of the University of South Carolina.
Gregorie spent the next four years teaching at Arkansas College and Alabama College while readying Thomas Sumter for publication in 1931. Reviews of Thomas Sumter stressed the diligence and research that made the book not just a biography, but also a social study of South Carolina’s Revolutionary and early-statehood periods. When the Depression ended Gregorie’s teaching career in 1933, she returned to Mount Pleasant and wrote twenty-one entries for the Dictionary of American Biography. Economically independent through judicious investments of savings and monies earned for her writings, Gregorie began working for the Civil Works Administration, repairing and transcribing historical records. In 1936 she became the director of the South Carolina Historical Records Survey, a Works Projects Administration agency that inventoried records in courthouses, capitols, and churches nationwide. When the project was suspended in 1941, Gregorie had compiled forty-six county records inventories and published fourteen. Completing the work by drafting the first disaster preparedness plan for cultural institutions and records in South Carolina, she turned in earnest to historical writing and editing.
Gregorie’s major work for the American Historical Association, Records of the South Carolina Court of Chancery, 1671–1779, was published in 1950. Four years later The History of Sumter County earned an award of merit from the American Association for State and Local History. Gregorie served as editor of the South Carolina Historical Magazine from 1948 until 1958. Lastly, Gregorie fulfilled her life’s dream by completing Christ Church Parish, 1706–1959, which was published posthumously in 1961. As a historian, Gregorie demonstrated the validity of good local history and the importance of local records. Her heritage and training enabled her to present South Carolina’s history with intimacy and insight enriched with anecdotes and tradition. She died on December 4, 1960, and was buried in the Christ Episcopal Churchyard, Mount Pleasant.
Copp, Roberta V. H. “Of Her Time, Before Her Time: Anne King Gregorie, South Carolina’s Singular Historian.” South Carolina Historical Magazine 91 (October 1990): 231–46.
Surles, Flora Belle. Anne King Gregorie. Columbia, S.C.: R. L. Bryan, 1968.