The Charleston Museum director worked to create equitable access for the community, including local schools in rural communities
Laura Bragg (second from the left) stands with fellow directors during the 18th-annual meeting of the American Association of Museums in this image taken on the steps of the original Charleston Museum at 121 Rutledge in April 1923. Hired as the librarian for The Charleston Museum in 1909, the Massachusetts native was named its director 11 years later, becoming the first woman to run a publicly funded museum in America. During her time helming the institution, Bragg overturned policies barring African Americans from visiting the museum and oversaw the purchase of the historic Heyward-Washington House, home to Thomas Heyward Jr., a signer of the Declaration of Independence. In 1928, she worked to make programming available to local schools, including those in rural areas, through the use of “Bragg Boxes,” traveling trunks filled with artifacts, images, replicas, and lesson plans. The Charleston Museum introduced a new Bragg Box program in 2020, honoring the director’s commitment to education and equal access to the institution’s resources.