2015 marks a landmark year in the history of the College of Charleston Libraries. As of January 15, 2015, the South Carolina Historical Society (SCHS)– the largest private repository of books, letters, journals, maps, drawings, and photographs documenting the history of the state of South Carolina—will reopen in their new location, the third floor of the Marlene and Nathan Addlestone Library.
The Historical Society has been housed for nearly seventy-five years at the historic Fireproof Building in downtown Charleston. In recent years it had become increasingly clear that the Society’s collections were outgrowing the available space. Thomas S. Tisdale Jr., past president of SCHS’s Board of Directors, explains, “The space became quite inadequate… In each passing year it was more difficult to properly care for our valuable collections.” Tisdale was tasked with locating a new space to house the SCHS collection, eventually beginning talks with the College of Charleston. “We investigated a number of options… ultimately, we a partnership with Addlestone Library just made sense.”
ARTICLE: Read more about the partnership between Addlestone Library and the South Carolina Historical Society.
The partnership between the South Carolina Historical Society and the College of Charleston is not without precedent. Walter Edgar, former president of SCHS’s Board of Directors, notes, “When we started out in 1855, we actually had a connection with the College of Charleston. In fact, our collections survived during the Civil War because they were stored, not in our headquarters, but at the College.”
Continuing this legacy of partnership, the new inter-institutional relationship maintains the independent identity of each organization while elevating Addlestone Library to a position as one of the top research centers in the nation in Southern Studies. “This collaboration makes us a premier research destination for scholars and students of the American South, the Atlantic World, and a number of other disciplines,” says John W. White, dean of libraries at the College of Charleston, “We are especially pleased that these resources will strengthen undergraduate and graduate education at the College of Charleston.”
The 2014 Addlestone Improvement Project anticipated the arrival of the SCHS, providing premier space for the Historical Society’s archival treasures. Renovation plans took careful stock of the Historical Society’s needs: in addition to providing humidity and temperature-controlled collection storage spaces, the renovation expanded capacity for the Historical Society’s unique manuscript and rare book collections. Additionally, the physical space within the third-floor Special Collections Reading Room was expanded to accommodate more researchers.
MULTIMEDIA: See the Addlestone Library renovation.
A special exhibition celebrating the historic partnership between the College of Charleston Libraries and the South Carolina Historical Society will be open to the public beginning Monday, March 2, 2015. Located in the display cases outside of Special Collections in Addlestone Library, the exhibition will feature a number of rare artifacts from each institution documenting all eras of South Carolina history from its settlement onward. Some key artifacts on display include Francis Marion’s pistol, letters written by George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, and Alexander Hamilton, Christopher Gadsden’s copy of Common Sense, and a volume of Audubon’s Birds of America. The exhibit will be on display through spring semester 2015.