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Documentary History of the College of Charleston: Home

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About the College of Charleston Archives

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. In addition to our manuscripts, rare books, pamphlets, photographs, oral histories and more, Special Collections is also the repository for institutional records of the College of Charleston. 

The College of Charleston Archives are divided into two parts: (1) a historical series of records covering the period from 1785-June 1970 and (2) current records from July 1970 to the early 21st century. This historical series includes records of the creation of the College primarily as an academy in 1785, of its reorganization and of the adoption of a comprehensive college curriculum in 1824 and 1825, of its existence as a municipal college from 1837 to 1949; and of its separate existence as a private institution from 1949 until it became a state institution on July 1, 1970.

The minutes of the Trustees are complete from 1785 through the present. Among the Presidents of the Trustees who are best represented in the historical records are Robert Smith from 1786-1789, Mitchell King from 1847-1862, and M. Rutledge Rivers from 1925-1940. Another trustee who is well represented is the artist and historian Charles Fraser (Secretary and Treasurer from 1817-1855).

Few presidential papers exist before 1863, but the records of presidents are essentially complete or nearly so from 1897 to 1968. The three presidents who served during this period were Harrison Randolph from 1897-1942, George Daniel Grice from 1942-1966, and Walter Raleigh Coppedge from 1966-1968. (All of President Theodore S. Stern's papers are kept together in the post-1970 record group). The minutes of the trustees and other records also provide substantial informaiton about earlier Presidents including Robert Smith from 1790-1797, Jasper Adams from 1825-1836, and Nathaniel Russell Middleton from 1857-1880.

The faculty minutes are complete from 1841 through the present. Among the members of the faculty who are best represented in the historical records are John Bachman (Natural History, 1848-1853), Thomas della Torre (Latin and Greek, 1898-1923), James Harold Easterby (History, 1920-1952), Louis R. Gibbes (Mathematics and Natural Philosophy, 1838-1892), Lancelot Minor Harris (1898-1941), Francis S. Holmes (Geology and Natural History and head of the Museum, 1850-1869), Horatio Hughes (Chemistry, 1923-1950), Gabriel E. Manigault (Natural History and Geology and head of the Museum, 1873-1899), John McCrady (Mathematics, 1855-1861 and 1865-1873), James Warley Miles (History of Intelectual Philosophy and Greed Literature, 1850-1854 and 1866-1871), and Frederick Adolphus Porcher (History and Belles Lettres, 1848-1888).

Among the most comprehensive sets of records are financial records, library accession records (including inventories of several large antebellum libraries which have survived nearly intact), and records of the Charleston Museum while it was part of the College from 1850-1915. The most extensive set of student records was kept by the Chrestomathic Literary Society from 1848-1957.

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