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.
Special Collections shares reading room and storage space with the holdings of the South Carolina Historical Society.
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.
Everyone is welcome to conduct research in Special Collections and Archives. 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.
Visitors to our reading room are required to observe the following rules and guidelines:
REGISTRATION: Researchers are required to complete the registration process once per calendar year. Researchers are required to sign the visitor log at the reference desk once per visit.
PERSONAL BELONGINGS: Coats, bags, and other personal items should be placed in the lockers located behind the reference desk. Researchers may bring a laptop computer, limited loose sheets of paper, mobile devices on silent settings, and digital cameras to the table. Only staff-approved books and notebooks can be used at the table. Pens are not permitted in the reading room. Pencils and note paper will be provided upon request. Researchers are responsible for the security of equipment and other materials they bring into the reading room. Staff may examine laptops, notes, and other items when researchers exit the reading room.
EATING and DRINKING: Food and beverages are strictly prohibited.
CIRCULATION: Special Collections and South Carolina Historical Society materials do not circulate beyond the reading room. Materials cannot be checked out and must be used during Special Collections’ public hours. Under no circumstances may researchers remove collection material from the reading room.
MATERIAL LIMITS and MAINTAINING ORIGINAL ORDER: Researchers may use either one volume or one folder at a time. In the case of manuscript or archival material, original order must be maintained. Do not remove items from a folder or shift the order of items in a folder.
HANDLING of MATERIALS: All materials must be handled with care. Do not mark material or erase existing marks; do not use pens, markers or high-lighters on or near materials; don not fold, tear or cut documents; make tracings or rubbings; do not rest books or other objects on the surface of items; do not touch the surface of loose sheets or book pages if they can be handled by their edges. All materials must be returned to reading room staff at the time of departure.
PUBLICATION and CITATION REQUIREMENTS: Footnotes should cite the author, title, and date of a work, the name of the collection, and the repository (either College of Charleston Special Collections or the South Carolina Historical Society). Examples are available. 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. The Special Collections Department assumes no responsibility in cases of infringement.
WE ARE FRIENDLY! Don’t hesitate to ask our staff for any help or direction you may need!