Vennie Deas Moore
Advocacy – Traditional Arts
Vennie Deas Moore has dedicated her life to documenting and celebrating Southern folklife through tireless fieldwork, writing, and research. With an extensive career spanning over thirty years, her work has involved oral histories, folklore research, documentary photography, cultural preservation, and medical history. The author of numerous publications, Deas Moore is a consummate cultural historian who pursues every assignment with vigor, passion, and a genuine interest in people and their stories.
Born in McClellanville and raised in Charleston, Deas Moore is informed and inspired by her ancestors, particularly her mother, Eugenia Deas, herself a Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Award recipient. Her mission is an important one – to collect, document, and preserve South Carolina's rapidly changing cultural landscape, made up of people, places, occupations, traditions, and foodways. She has pursued this work in various capacities with numerous state and national historic sites, museums, and cultural institutions.
Deas Moore’s field research was instrumental in the development of the McKissick Museum exhibition Jubilation! African American Celebrations in the Southeast. This groundbreaking exhibition was the first to explore African-American commemorative traditions in the region. Her writing and photography were featured in a statewide traveling exhibition entitled A People of the Land, which focused on the residents of Sandy Island in Georgetown County. Her book with author William Baldwin, Home: Portraits from the Carolina Coast, highlights the fishing and lumber industries in small rural communities. Deas Moore’s photographs provide a stark and unvarnished view of people within their environment, as she implores the viewer to understand what is being lost through land development and population growth.
Deas Moore’s career has also involved immunology and genetics research. Nearly eighteen years ago, she worked with several University of South Carolina biochemists at the forefront of DNA testing. She focused on obtaining DNA samples of African Americans from the Lowcountry in order to connect them with their West African ancestry. In addition to working at the Rice Museum in Georgetown, Deas Moore is expanding her South Carolina coastal fishing communities' research for an upcoming Smithsonian exhibition at the Georgetown Maritime Museum. She is truly dedicated to her community, with a passion for helping those around her. When not involved with a documentation project, she volunteers as a Red Cross team shelter manager.