Archives and Special Collections

From colonial era letters to literary manuscripts, the Library Society's Archives and Special Collections hold some of the Lowcountry's greatest cultural treasures.  From its founding in 1748, the Charleston Library Society has served to promote research and inquiry, and has preserved and protected treasures of the written word.  The collections of the Library Society stretch from the 15th century to the modern day, and include materials from around the world.  Today, our collections assist scholars from across the Lowcountry, as well as internationally.  

The materials housed in the Library Society’s Archives and Special Collections consist of more than 14,500 rare books, 5,000 rare and semi-rare pamphlets, 400 manuscript collections, and 470 maps and plats.  A sample of what can be found among these collections are correspondence of people of historic national significance, such as George Washington, John Marshall, Robert E. Lee, Henry Laurens, Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, and John C. Calhoun; the original handwritten manuscript of DuBose Heyward’s Porgy; books, pamphlets, and manuscripts regarding Southern agriculture in the 19th century; and an extensive collection of Southern colonial newspapers.  The items found in these collections provide insight into the story of Charleston’s past as one of America’s earliest urban settings.

Researchers may search our archival holdings and special collections through our online catalog.