Culinary historian, author, artist and photographer John Martin Taylor, also known as Hoppin’ John, has donated his personal collection of books and papers to the Special Collections Department of the College of Charleston and the Horry-Georgetown Technical College’s International Culinary Institute of Myrtle Beach.
Taylor owned the famous Hoppin’ John’s culinary bookstore and cooking school in Charleston, South Carolina for 13 years. When he closed the shop in 1999, he donated hundreds of books to the Charleston County Library, but kept several hundred for his private collection. Taylor continues to run his website, HoppinJohns.com, where he sells stone-ground corn products. He also blogs at HoppinJohns.net. Though still sought after as a speaker and consultant to the food industry, Taylor wanted to find a new home for his personal collection as he focuses on retirement.
“My marriage and my garden are more important to me than my career at this point in my life,” says Taylor from his home in Savannah, Georgia. “I knew the books would get much better use in the hands of students, and I’m pleased that the International Culinary Institute of Myrtle Beach and the Special Collections (at the College of Charleston) will be their new homes.”
For the recipients, the donation is a tremendous honor.
“Mr. Taylor’s gift is incredible,” says Harlan Greene, head of the College’s Special Collections. “His papers not only document southern culinary history, but so much more. We know John’s photography and art work, his friendship with poets, artists and musicians like the B52s will spark and satisfy researcher interest. And of vital importance to us – and to the future – are the materials on LGBTQ life in the Lowcountry, a new and vital focus of our collection. Users of these materials will be thanking John for years to come.”
“The mission of our libraries is to preserve and make accessible materials documenting the kaleidoscope of lived experiences here in Charleston and beyond,” says John White, Dean of the College of Charleston Libraries. “John’s generous donation is a boon to our students and researchers – whether they are exploring historic foodways or contemporary social issues facing our city – and enriches our permanent collection.”
The collection will be made available to researchers at the Special Collections Department of the College of Charleston in the coming months, accessible to all College faculty, staff, and students as well as College of Charleston Friends of the Library.