Special Collections has a robust special projects ethos often enhanced by funding from collaborative efforts and grant monies.
Most recently, The Documenting LGBTQ Life in the Lowcountry project received funding from the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelly foundation. The goals of the project are to collect endangered archival materials and record oral histories with members of Charleston’s LGBTQ community.
The Voices of Southern Hospitality project is a multi-disciplinary, student-driven and community-centered oral history project that documents the diverse opinions, experiences, and life stories of people who live and work in the Lowcountry region. The ultimate goal of the project is the create a digital archive to demonstrate and document how the theme of southern hospitality intersects with issues of history, race, and tourism on the Charleston peninsula, and more broadly, with issues of tourism development around the world.
In previous years, Special Collections received three prestigious grants; a National Historical Publications and Records (NHPRC) grant, a Council on Libraries and Information Resources (CLIR) Hidden Collections grant, and a Medway Charitable Trust grant.
The NHPRC grant was used to arrange and describe the Burnet R. Maybank Senatorial Papers and the Congressman L. Mendel Rivers and Rivers family papers. These collections offer insight into the political careers of two powerful politicians and provide a window into the formation and implementation of post-WWII domestic and foreign policy. The papers of most of their Congressional contemporaries are readily available, but scholars find a dearth of primary sources related to Maybank and Rivers. The papers are now processed and available for public research in Special Collections, and the most historically significant pieces of each collection (approximately 150 documents) are digitized and exhibited online through the Lowcountry Digital Library.
The CLIR grant completed the processing of the Rabbi William A. Rosenthall Collection, an extraordinary compilation of printed material and artwork that traces the portrayal of Jews by scholars, artists, laypersons, and even anti- semites from the 16th to the 21st centuries. The collection includes rare books, fine art, postcards, illustrated journals, greeting cards, pamphlets, broadsides, ephemera, newspapers, cartoons, caricatures, etchings, lithographs, chromolithographs, watercolors, medallions, stamps, textiles, and more. Materials are in English, German, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Hebrew, Yiddish, and other languages. The College began processing the Rosenthall Collection in 2012, with a first CLIR Hidden Collections grant. Hidden Collections grants are highly competitive, and the second consecutive award is a testament to both the value of the Collection and the library’s successful administration of the initial grant.
Finally, Special Collections now houses the papers of Gertrude Sanford Legendre which is supported by funds from the Medway Charitable Trust. LeGendre lived a life most people can only dream about. She was an international traveler extraordinaire, big game hunter, American spy, plantation owner and friend to the rich and famous. The daughter of New York congressman and industrialist John Sanford, Legendre became a world-class adventurer who made it a habit to see the world’s most interesting places and entertain the world’s most fascinating people. Thanks to the generosity of Legendre’s family, Special Collections has been given this remarkable trove, which was previously housed at Legendre’s home outside Charleston, the historic Medway Plantation.
Special Collections has begun processing and partially digitizing the archive – which includes letters she wrote while a prisoner of war in Germany, manuscripts of her books and portraits of Legendre by photographers Toni Frissell and Man Ray, among others – courtesy of the Medway Charitable Trust. Given the scope of work, such a gift is critical for proper care of the archives.