The Development of the Profession in South Carolina

F. Truitt Rabun, Jr. FASLA

The documentation of “The Development of the Profession in South Carolina”, supplements the SC Chapter’s successful Chapter Resource Guide. The Guide is under going a major up grade in 1999 as part of the Centennial Celebration of the founding of ASLA. This documentation will give an overview of the professions’ contributions to South Carolina’s quality of life and focus on the development of the profession – early professionals, projects and contributions to the state’s quality of life, history of ASLA (Southeastern Chapter, then SC ASLA), the story of registration and Sunset, the establishment of the program in Landscape Architecture at Clemson University – all toward building a documented institutional memory and sharing the successes of the profession in South Carolina. This documentation will also be used as a stand alone piece for use in registration Sunset hearings, public presentations, and at other times when it is necessary to clarify for others who we are and what we do.The target audience consists of ASLA members and potential future leaders within SCASLA, non-member LA’s that may be persuaded to join given a broad view of ASLA, the general public and policy makers – especially useful as a resource during registration “Sunset.” The potential research sources for this project include “oral histories” taken from active and retired senior professionals, public officials and University administrators; review of records at the State registration board, ASLA headquarters and Clemson University; review of resources at libraries and historical societies; review of the Chapter’s archives (which is stored in boxes scattered among present and past Chapter officers); and, a written survey of Chapter members soliciting information about the development of the profession and their personal memories. The SC Chapter is a relatively young Chapter, however the profession is maturing to the point that it may lose access to some of its most viable resources for this important project. Some of the state’s professionals are just beginning to retire and written resources are about to get “lost in the shuffle” at offices and public agencies. Now is the time for this to be done, while the resources are still available and we have some reliance on our professional’s, agencies’ and educator’s individual memories. The most difficult task in this kind of project is to determine “where to draw the line” – how far do we go, how do we not leave someone out, how do we give credit where credit is due and not offend anyone. If this were envisioned as a purely academic, scholarly work, then we could always point to the view of the scholar and debate the degree of accuracy in the research and whether or not the presentation represents “revisionist history”. However, in order to keep the scope of this project within the realm of the doable – given the time, resources, budget, and the Chapter’s needs – the final written product should not be viewed as an in-depth piece of work, rather as an overview of key events in the development of the profession, easily accessible to the reader, accurate and limited to 20 to 30 pages including a summary at the beginning. As important as the final written document will be, the research and oral histories will be the most important and will be archived at the State Department of Archives and History, a public library, or other suitable repository for future reference and as a resource for future in-depth scholarly work. The writer for this project is intended to be a professional with a background in research, history and recognized written work or, other qualified writer with a vested interest in getting the project completed on time and within budget. There will be an editorial review committee that consist of landscape architectural professionals and non-landscape architects (historians, other professionals) with an unbiased view to ensure quality and readability for the intended audience. When complete, this history will be a tremendous asset in telling the non-initiated who we are, what we do and from where we came – to educate the reader about the profession and its contributions to the State. Though targeted at a South Carolina audience, this document could be a model for development and improvement by other Chapters, and serve to supplement the work of Jot Carpenter on a national level. Further, it is hoped that the educational and promotional value to potential members and potential leaders within the Chapter would increase the ranks of both.