The Charleston Archive at Charleston County Public Library

Images from the Records of the Charleston County Public Library

Images from the Records of the Charleston County Public Library

This collection consists of photographs and slides from the institutional records of the Charleston County Public Library. These images span the first four decades of the history of the institution, from its founding in 1931 as the Charleston Free Library, through 1969. The collection contains images from various library branches and service points, including the Main Library and Dart Hall Branch Library in downtown Charleston, the Bookmobile, Mt. Pleasant (Village Branch), Cooper River Memorial Library, and other locations throughout the county. Several images also include notable library staff members, such as Emily C. Sanders, Susan Dart Butler, Mae Holloway Purcell, and Janie M. Smith, as well as prominent community members, such as Mary V. McBee and John Bennett. Many of the black and white images are the work of local photographer Louis Schwartz. The 35mm color slides were taken in 1943 by Dorothy Dingley, a photographer in United States Navy who was stationed in Charleston during World War II.

Collection Media Types: 

The South Carolina & West Indian Exposition Photo Passbook, 1901 - 1902

Photobook of patrons at the SC Inter-State and West Indian Exposition, 1901-1902

The photos in this collection were taken as part of a season pass that patrons could purchase for unlimited admission to the South Carolina Inter-State and West Indian Exposition, held in Charleston in 1901 and 1902. Each individual’s photo was mounted in a passbook kept by the patron and a duplicate photo was mounted in an album kept by the Director of the Departments of Admissions and Collections, Hugh James Fleming (whose image is on page 34, number 297). The album contains images of 1,326 people, of whom 1,213 are identified by a caption presumably made at the time the photograph was taken. The total number of season pass photos taken for the Exposition is unknown, but similar photos beyond the present collection are known to survive in extant individual Exposition pass books. Mr. Fleming donated this photographic album in 1948 to the Charleston Free Library (now called the Charleston County Public Library). The letter regarding its provenance and donation to the library has been included as the final image in this collection (number 157). Since the paper on which the gelatin silver photographs are mounted is extremely brittle and in a state of deterioration, the album was disbound several years prior to its digitization in order to facilitate its preservation.

Collection Media Types: 

Photos from the Records of The Historic Preservation Planner, BCD-COG

Black and white photo of an old rectory outbuilding circa 1855 in Pinopolis, SC.

These photos are from the collection, The Records of the Historic Preservation Planner, Berkeley-Charleston-Dorchester Council of Governments (BCDCOG), 1970 - 1981. A large portion of this collection is comprised of the research materials collected for the publication, Historic Preservation Plan Berkeley-Charleston-Dorchester Region, with the rest being non-survey regional research materials, general business files of the BCDCOG historic preservation department, and topical and miscellaneous files. The majority of the photographs that appear here were taken and compiled by Elias Ball Bull - the tri-county region’s first historic preservation planner – who initiated the process for several hundred of the properties to be included in the National Register of Historic Places. These are the original photos filed with the register nominations; some appear on the National Register website, however, many have been replaced with current images or were not included on the National Register.

Collection Media Types: 

Jack Keilen Slide Collection

Color photo of Eleanor and Jack Keilen in Charleston, S.C.

John J. ("Jack") Keilen (d. 1999) was a native of Pittsburgh and received a Ph.D. in chemical engineering from Carnegie Mellon University. He came to Charleston during the mid-1940s, working first for West Virginia Pulp and Paper Company and later Charleston Rubber Company. An avid amateur photographer throughout his life, Mr. Keilen took several thousand of photographs during his annual vacations around the world. The present collection consists of nearly six hundred color slides taken around Charleston and the Carolinas between 1944 and 1990.

Collection Media Types: 

Bettie La Barbe Postcard Collection

New Year commemorative postcard, 1909.

Originally a native of Raleigh, North Carolina, Bettie La Barbe spent several years (approximately 1904 - 1923) in Charleston as a teacher and the directress of Kelly's Kindergarten at Saint Andrews Episcopal Church (located at King and Poinsette Streets). She retired to Asheville, North Carolina and remained an active member in her community until her death in 1955. The collection consists of just over three hundred Victoriana-era postcards collected by Miss La Barbe between the years 1903 - 1935. The collection's provenance in the Charleston Archive at CCPL is unknown, but it is believed that it was originally donated to the Charleston Free Library. The cards feature a wide variety of subjects including people, animals, and holidays. While the vast majority of the images are not specifically related to Lowcountry or South Carolina, they represent a broad range of Victorian commercial art.

Collection Media Types: 
Subscribe to The Charleston Archive at Charleston County Public Library