January 2009


The Charleston Archive is a department of the Charleston County Public Library(CCPL), and is located within the library system’s Main branch at 68 Calhoun Street in Charleston, South Carolina. Unlike other local archives that house private materials–such as diaries, letters, and photographs that focus on specific individuals or families–our Special Collections focus on public history. In other words, we collect and preserve unique manuscripts, rare books and pamphlets, prints and photographs, and other materials that document the political, economic, cultural, and topographical history of the city and county of Charleston.

We think it’s important to share this material, in a “virtual” sense, with the community at large rather than simply keeping it under lock and key. Charleston has such a rich and diverse heritage of history, but much of it is unfamiliar to the vast majority of the public. Our mission is to promote a broader knowledge of the primary resources that allow us to peek back into the crevices of history, and to help foster a greater awareness of the need to preserve our own history for the future.

Research at the Charleston Archive

 The Charleston Archive is open from 9:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., Monday through Friday (library holidays excepted). Walk-in queries will be accommodated as staff scheduling permits. To schedule an appointment, please contact the staff (see below).

RESEARCH VISITS AND EXTENDED RESEARCH CONSULTATIONS MUST BE ARRANGED IN ADVANCE.

The Charleston Archive is a traditional closed-stack archive. Patrons can access the materials through the staff, but they are not permitted to browse the collections. This measure is enforced to ensure the long-term protection of the archival materials.

  • To gain access to materials from the Archives Department, patrons are asked to fill out a request slip a request slip at the South Carolina Room desk.  The Archives staff will bring out the requested sources, which may be viewed in the SC Room. 
  • Although the SC Room is open the same hours as the library, the Charleston Archives department is open Monday- Friday from 9:30-6.  Archives collections and catalog items listed as ‘Special Collections’ or ‘Archives’ can only be accessed during that department’s hours.  Patrons who visit the SC Room on the weekend or at night are welcome to fill out a request form, and the material will be pulled when the patron is available to return during Archives’ normal hours.
  • Please visit the Charleston Archives blog on the blogroll for rules and more information about their collections.

After a long hiatus, we have resumed updating our ‘Book of the Month” page (see above on top tool bar.)  The page will be updated about every month and will feature books on Charleston, Lowcountry, and South Carolina history, as well as works by local authors and genealogists.  Please click above to read about this month’s book, Charleston Curiosities by Michael Coker, and don’t forget to check back each month for new reading suggestions featuring rich history and local interest works.

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