Founded in 1865, the Avery Normal Institute provided education and advocacy for the growing Charleston African American community and trained blacks for professional careers and leadership roles. Although the Institute closed its doors in 1954, it graduates preserved the legacy of their alma mater by establishing the Avery Institute of Afro-American History and Culture. This collection includes photographs of classes, extra-curricular activities, and reunions. Also, included are documents regarding activities presented and sponsored by the Avery Normal Institute.
Nathaniel Russel Middleton's writings consist of poems, essays, and addresses about Christianity, the fine arts, philosophical materialism, temperance, secession, fame, the U.S. Constitution, and other subjects, many of which were probably delivered to the students of the College of Charleston during his tenure there as professor and president.
The College of Charleston Pamphlets collection is a growing collection of pamphlets digitized from the College of Charleston archive. The pamphlets originate from a selection of collections, including the Thomas Smith Grimke pamphlet collection.
The White Pine Series of Architectural Monographs was created under the auspices of the White Pine Bureau to encourage the use of white pine as a building material. The by-monthly series was edited by Russell F. Whitehead, former editor of The Architectural Record and The Brickbuilder, with advertising support from Weyerhaeuser Forest Products, a Minnesota-based company. Even though intended to be promotional, each issue provided visual documentation of classical and unique applications of White Pine, illustrated with photography of the time and drawings (including measured drawings), along with detailed essays by well-respected American architects and builders. The Monographs became an industry favorite, gaining loyal readership across the country and becoming popular as a resource for architecture researchers of architecture. (Sources: Russell F. Whitehead Finding Aid, Minnesota Historical Society; “The White Pine Monographs,” Northeastern Lumber Manufacturing Association website)
The Margaretta Childs Archives collection consists of the five issues of the White Pine Series of Architectural Monographs that highlighted Charleston architecture, each published in 1928: “The Charm of Charleston: A New World City of Old World Memories”; “A Town House of Charleston, South Carolina: The William Gibbes Residence “; “Some Charleston Mansions”; “Charleston Doorways: Entrance Motives from a South Carolina City”; and “The Edwards-Smyth House.” Each issue contains an introductory essay; photographs by Kenneth Clark of buildings, street scenes, views, and architectural details; and measured drawings (measured and drawn by Kenneth Clark) from the George F. Lindsay Collection of Early American Documents. The issues also contain wood construction details (by Weyerhaeuser) pertaining to a featured house and company information about Weyerhaeuser Forest Products.
The collection also includes thirty-three original gelatin silver photographs by Kenneth Clark, most of which were reproduced in three of the five issues Charleston-related issues.
Esau Jenkins (1910-1972) was born and raised on Johns Island, South Carolina. With very little formal education, he became a businessman and civil rights leader. Jenkins founded the Progressive Club in 1948, which encouraged local African Americans to register to vote, through the aid of Citizenship Schools, a topic he was educated in by his attendance at Highlander Folk Center in Tennessee. In 1959, he organized the Citizens' Committee of Charleston County dedicated to the economic, cultural and political improvement of local African Americans.
Printed material, correspondence, photographic materials, and literary productions (1963-2003) document the life and works of Esau Jenkins (1910-1972). Writings holds miscellaneous correspondence and notes and printed versions of his talks and writings. Affiliations contains correspondence, brochures, notes, and other data on variety of organizations he helped found or was a member of, including the Progressive Club, Citizen's Committee of Charleston, Community Organization Credit Union, Political Action Committee of Charleston County, Political Awareness League of Charleston County, and the Highlander Folks Center. Topics mentioned include the 1969 Charleston Hospital Worker's strike, and the protested death of a young African American, Robert Brown, killed by a white policeman in 1970.
This collection was digitized and made freely accessible online through the generous support of the National Historical Publications & Records Commission.
Very likely the earliest known printing of a directory of any American city or town, the first directory of Charleston was published as the American Revolutionary War was drawing to a close. It appeared in the South Carolina and Georgia Almanack for the Year of Our Lord 1782 by John Tobler under the caption The CHARLESTON DIRECTORY and an original is included in the Charleston Library Society’s collection of the city’s directories.
City directories generally contain listings of the areas’ residents -- including names, addresses, and occupations – as well as separate registers of businesses and professions usually sorted according to the nature of the work. Some contain “reverse look up” listings whereby an individual or business can first be identified by street address. Many also contain sections pertaining to government, weights, measures, tariffs, maps, street references, city histories, and business advertisements.
Directories are an important primary resource of historic material for amateur and professional researchers. Genealogical investigations are, perhaps, the most obvious examples: locating ancestors; searching censuses by address; exploring years between censuses; identifying dates of death; noting life alterations such as career changes and the names of people who lived with ancestors; verifying other documents; and discovering clues to locations of other documents and sources of information, to name a few. Elaboration of historic narrative – as, for example, the schedule and tariff of a local train to be involved in a movie story -- can often be more realistically accomplished through use of directory material. Similarly, images of earlier contemporary life can often be pieced together from the business, church, governmental, societal and advertising materials of directories. Studies of maps and street changes are very likely to reveal physical alterations in the city over time.
More specifically, the Charleston Library Society’s collection of Charleston city directories, which contains most if not all those printed from the first in 1782 to the present, have been and can be used for all of those purposes and more. The introduction to the 1875 – 76 directory noted that it was being published to keep pace with the increase in business and changes in the city that were apparent to the merchants and citizens and severely felt as a result of the influx of strangers. The 1856 version was probably titled the City Directory and Stranger Guide with the same thoughts in mind. At least as early as 1891 the Charleston directory included a reverse look up by street list, and at least as late as 1958 some of the directories contained separate listings for “white residents” and “colored residents.”
In the CLS’s The Charlestown Directory for 1782 and The Charleston Directory of 1785 there is a forward by Mary A. Sparkman, Commission Secretary. The forward provides a number of examples in which the author used information from those two Charleston directories, often in conjunction with and through cross referencing other source materials, to identify local figures of historical note and their resident addresses, including the infamous Lieutenant Colonel Balfour (the Commandant of Charlestown who hanged the martyr Hayne), Lieutenant- Governor Bull (native-born and bred but still a Royalist), Dr. Charles Fyff (“Physician to the Refugees”), Dr. Alexander Garden (for whom the Gardenia was named), and Dr. Elisha Poinsett (the father of Joel R. Poinsett who a half century later brought the Poinsettia from Mexico to this country where it was named). It also gives examples of: reconstructing the city’s development as its original fortifications were demolished; following the alterations in street names and locations over time; and, determining the changing business and residential nature of the city’s neighborhoods.
Some of the directories in the CLS collection contain much more extensive information about individuals than is typical. For example, the 1975 directory may show for any particular individual: full name, address, wife’s name, telephone number, occupation and employer, if a student aged 18 and older, if an out of town resident employed in the area, the branch if an armed forces member, the home owner, the suburb designation, if a head of household, if widowed, if unmarried and unemployed, and if the owner of a private business the name of the business. For resident corporations it lists the corporate officers and the nature of the business, and for resident partnerships it identifies the partners. The possible uses of all of this information are probably limited only by the researchers’ imaginations.
The South Carolina Historical Society's South Carolinians at Work collection is comprised of correspondence and other records, constitutions, and by-laws of organizations in Charleston, South Carolina. The organizations include Charleston Iron Works, American Federation of Musicians Local 502, Mechanics' Union No. 1, Charleston Fire Department, and the Bricklayers, Masons and Plasterers International Union of America. Also included in the collection are several documents of apprenticeship indenture, receipts, and advertisements.
The collection of artifacts pertaining tot he Craft and Crum families of the Lowcountry includes a myriad of materials; photo albums, letters, account books, and land deeds. The Craft Family Photo Album includes images of Craft family members, famous abolitionists, and other family friends, many of international historical significance. Also included in the collection are legal documents pertaining to the family land, Woodville Plantation.
The Anita Pollitzer Family Papers is comprised of documents and photographs gathered by multiple members of the Pollitzer family. The collection contains correspondence, funeral programs, an issue of The Jewish Women Quarterly, Gustave M. Pollitzer's prayer book in the original Yiddish, marriage and birth certificates, tickets to events, and family photographs.