April 2001

Anna May Manigault-Hurley

Female Funeral Home Director and Embalmer

“Anna May Manigault, the eldest of her parent’s two children, was born on July 27, 1907 in Columbia, South Carolina. She graduated from Booker T. Washington High School and earned her Bachelor of Science degree from South Carolina State University, where she was the first female member of the SCSU marching band. After graduating from SC State University, she taught elementary school in Lexington County. She helped organize the local NAACP branch and Agricultural Extension Agency offices and assisted her parents at their funeral home. After her father, William Manigault, died in 1940, Anna Manigault made a career choice that was uncommon for women. Her mother, Annie Rivers Manigault, along with her father, owned and operated Manigault’s Funeral Home at 714 Main Street in.Columbia, South Carolina. Their funeral home was one of the few African American businesses located on Main Street. As a young person, Miss Manigault assisted her parents at the funeral home. In 1940, she went to New York to study embalming at the famous Renouard School of Embalming. After her graduation, she returned to Columbia as one of the few women in South Carolina to become a licensed embalmer. Embalming school changed her life and she went on to direct the family’s business. In a March 27, 1973 article about her life in the State Newspaper, Mrs. Manigault -Hurley stated, “”It seemed only natural that I follow in the family business.”” During her early years, however, it was not an easy occupation in which women could be successful. Traditionally, the funeral business was dominated by the male gender. She further maintained that the profession was viewed as offensive because it dealt with death and dying. On the nature of her work in its early years, Mrs. Manigault-Hurley asserted that she usually worked from within the homes of the deceased. “”It was customary to embalm the body at home. We had to improvise on a table and use the hand-pump system.”” Mrs. Manigault-Hurley also helped to operate the Congaree Casket Company, founded by her father. It was known to employ more African Americans than any other black owned business in South Carolina. The printed funeral programs of her mortuary were known to be the first use of printed programs in South Carolina for funeral services. Among its many services, the casket company and the mortuary provided free meals for its employees and others in need. In 1959, she relocated the funeral home to 2229 Two Notch Road, Columbia, S.C. and it became the Manigault-Hurley Funeral Home, Inc. Mrs. Manigault-Hurley remained active in many civic organizations, and in her church, the Union Baptist Church, until her death on April 15, 1976. The legacy of Anna May Manigault-Hurley continues. The funeral home is currently under the management and directorship of her son, Anthony Manigault-Hurley; her granddaughter, Michelle Manigault-Hurley; and Mr. Hurley’s wife, Alice Wyche Hurley.”