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Family History and Genealogy: Using Special Collections

About Special Collections

Special Collections Entrance

The Special Collections Department of the College of Charleston was founded to support the teaching and learning mission of the College of Charleston and to promote scholarship on the South Carolina Lowcountry and the broader Atlantic World. It is located on the third floor of the Marlene and Nathan Addlestone Library. Its holdings include over 600 manuscript collections related to the history and culture of the South Carolina Lowcountry, the archives of the College of Charleston, the Spoleto Festival Archives, and more than 40,000 rare books and pamphlets.

The primary mission of Special Collections is to evaluate, acquire, organize, preserve, and make available regionally significant and/or rare printed and archival materials to support the college curriculum and student, faculty, and patron research.  Special Collections faculty and staff are committed to utilizing a collaborative, multi-faceted approach in support of that mission and are dedicated to employing established best practices to enhance access to our collections.

Special Collections envisions itself as an incubator for research through the stewardship of and access to the diverse histories of our institution, communities, and beyond. We encourage curiosity, enhance discovery, stimulate critical thinking, and provide innovative and collaborative approaches to scholarship, access, and pedagogy.

Using Special Collections

Research Services and Reading Room Access

Research and Reading Room Protocols

Everyone is welcome to visit Special Collections on the third floor of the Addlestone Library. While the majority of our holdings are not open for public browsing, retrieval of materials by our staff usually takes only a matter of minutes. Upon your arrival, you will be asked to comply with the following policies:

  1. All researchers must sign the registry.
  2. All personal articles are to be deposited in the secure location provided. There are lockers behind the reference desk. Only items necessary for taking notes may remain with you (notepads, laptops and pencils only please).
  3. Use of the material is confined to the research area.
  4. Researchers must either request materials in advance of their visit by corresponding with staff or fill out call slips to request material. The vaults are closed to everyone but staff. Researchers will be permitted only one folder of manuscript material at a time.
  5. All manuscript materials must be kept in the order in which they are found. Manuscript and other materials may not be leaned on, written on, folded anew, or handled in any way likely to damage them. Post-it notes may NOT be used to mark places, only acid free slips of paper (see reference desk).
  6. Photographing material may be arranged only under the supervision of Special Collections staff.
  7. Requests for a reasonable amount of photocopying may be made to the staff member on duty. Photocopy request forms are available at the front desk. Title 17, United States Code (Copyright Law) states the photocopied or reproductions are not to be “used for any purpose other than private study, scholarship, or research.”
  8. Researchers are asked to request no new material after 3:30 p.m. so that materials may be returned. Materials in use may be reserved for the following day.
  9. The library reserves the right to search book bags, briefcases, purses, etc. upon a researcher’s leaving the premises.
  10. Patrons assume all responsibility for adhering to existing copyright restrictions. Anyone contemplating publication of unpublished materials must obtain permission from the author or owner of literary rights. If permission is granted, the researcher must give appropriate credit to the Special Collections Department of the College of Charleston or the South Carolina Historical Society Archives. The Special Collections Department assumes no responsibility in cases of infringement.