The National Court Reporters Association’s Court Reporting & Captioning Week began Saturday and runs through February 17. Modern court reporters do wonderful work not only as guardians of the record in a courtroom or conference room, but also as a vital communication bridge for deaf and hard of hearing people who depend on their stenographic skills to provide real-time captions for television broadcasts, webinars, church services, live sporting events, and more.
Situated on the South Carolina State House grounds in the Edgar A. Brown Building hangs a bronze placard over an image of the man for whom the building was named. Brown’s accomplishments are listed at the top of the placard. It reads, “Court Stenographer-Second Circuit 1908-1928.”
Typically court reporters are the ones responsible for recording history, not making history. So who was Edgar A. Brown?
Brown was commissioned in 1908 as the court stenographer of the Second Judicial Circuit in Barnwell, SC, replacing James F. Byrnes, who had been elected Solicitor for the circuit, as cited by the SC Encyclopedia. He was an Old South democrat who was first elected to the SC House of Representatives in 1920. He served as Speaker of the House from 1925 to 1926. In 1928, he began his service in the SC Senate, ultimately serving as President Pro Tempore of the Senate and Chairman of Senate Finance from 1942 to 1972. He served on the Clemson Board of Trustees as a member, life trustee, and beginning in 1966, president of the board. Senator Brown and Representative Blatt dominated the South Carolina state legislature for more than a decade. Political lore of the “Barnwell Ring” overshadows both men.
Brown’s legacy and the court-reporting industry are still loosely intertwined today. During Brown’s legislative service, he was known for implementing South Carolina Educational Television, a public television network, which served as a model for ETV stations nationwide. Of course, these days PBS stations broadcast captions created by real-time captioners borne from the court-reporting profession that launched Edgar Brown’s career.
Do you want information on how to become a stenographer? Click here.