Manuscript Collections

Special Collections stewards over 600 separate manuscript collections that vary in size from a single item to collections over 400 linear feet. Manuscript collections document social, economic, environmental, and political history in South Carolina and the Atlantic World from the 16th to 21st centuries. All cataloged manuscript collections are available for public viewing during normal business hours; however, certain restrictions may apply for rare, fragile, or sensitive materials.

Researchers can search and discover more information on ArchivesSpace, the database of Special Collections’ Finding Aids and Inventories. Learn more by visiting our Guide to Using the CofC ArchivesSpace Finding Aid System.

Below are a few featured manuscript collections.

Grimke Family Papers, 1678-1977, circa 1990s
Materials include Revolutionary War papers of John Paul Grimke and his son John Faucheraud Grimke, with materials regarding the latter as intendant (mayor) of Charleston. Papers of Thomas Smith Grimke document temperance, politics, and education and contain an autograph collection. Also included are papers of Thomas’s siblings Frederick Grimke, Sarah Moore Grimke and Angelina Grimke Weld.

Gertrude Sanford Legendre papers
The papers of Gertrude Sanford Legendre contain photograph albums, scrapbooks, images, slides, manuscripts, correspondence, ledgers, journals, maps, audiovisual materials, and other papers. Gertrude Sanford Legendre (1902-2000) was an American socialite, explorer, and author. Materials document Legendre’s childhood, education, and travel, including expeditions to Africa and Asia with the American Museum of Natural History and the National Geographic Society, her involvement with the Office of Strategic Services in London and Paris during World War II and her subsequent capture and imprisonment by German forces, and her stewardship, along with her husband, Sidney Legendre, of Medway Plantation (S.C.). Also included are materials related to other members of the Sanford family, their role in politics, and their businesses, including her father, John Sanford (II), and grandfather, Stephen Sanford, who owned Hurricana Farms (later Sanford Stud Farms) and Stephen Sanford & Sons, Inc. Carpet Company (later Bigelow-Sanford); her brother, Stephen “Laddie” Sanford (II), a champion polo player; and her sister, Sarah Jane Cochran Sanford, who married Mario Pansa, an Italian diplomat who served as an advisor to Benito Mussolini before and during World War II.

Drayton Papers, 1701-2004
The vast majority of the collection concerns the Drayton family and South Carolina. Included are Proprietary and Royal Land Grants to Thomas and John Drayton, medical journals and diaries of Charles Drayton I (“Carolus”), as well as correspondence of John Drayton, Charles Drayton I, II and III, Mary Middleton Drayton, Thomas Henry Middleton Drayton, and Dr. John Drayton on plantation affairs, politics, bills, debts and family news. Included are plats from surveys of Drayton Hall, Drayton’s Cowpen, Bob Savannah, Jehossee, and Tuxpan, Mexico. The Notes sub-series includes plantation matters (crop cultivation, slave inventories and “plantation rules,” horticulture, education, literature and medicine. Also included are plantation log books for Drayton Hall. Images include artwork, stereo views, and photographs.  The collection’s newspapers include Civil War and family news from the Charleston Evening News, Charleston Mercury, and Charleston Courier. Genealogical records include two extensive Drayton family charts.

William Martin Aiken Papers, 1878-1956
Sketchbooks, photographs, clippings and other professional papers of Charleston born architect William Martin Aiken. Materials relate to Aiken’s student and professional work as an architect in Boston, Massachusetts, and Cincinnati, Ohio, and as the Supervising Architect of the Treasury Department. Materials also relate to homes designed by Aiken as well as buildings designed by the New York City architectural firm McKim, Mead, and White.

Barnwell Family Papers, 1823-1960s
This collection consists of correspondence of Reverend William H. W. Barnwell, his wife Catherine Osborn Barnwell, their children and other Barnwell family relations. Topics include social life in Beaufort and Charleston, South Carolina, varying religions and their differences, historiography of South Carolina, St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, Charleston, religious instruction of enslaved persons, missionary work in China, South Carolina College (1840- 1860), Rev. James Henley Thornwell, the capture of Jefferson Davis (1865), emancipation of a slave (1837), travel in Europe and the South and many other contemporary topics.

Fellowship Society Records, 1762-2005
Minutes (1769-1963), membership records (1762-1993) and financial records (1774-2004) document all activities of the Fellowship Society, a Charleston, South Carolina benevolent organization dedicated to charity, education, and upkeep of widows and orphans of its members.

St. Andrew’s Society of Charleston Records, 1729-2001
This collection includes administrative, financial, and membership records, records of charitable assistance, and other materials of the St. Andrew’s Society of Charleston. Records document the social and benevolent activities of the St. Andrew’s Society between the years 1729 to 2001.

Burnett R. Maybank papers, 1914-1973
Burnet Rhett Maybank was a U.S. Senator, the 99th Governor of South Carolina, and Mayor of Charleston. Nearly 330 linear feet, the Maybank papers were recently arranged and described with the assistance of a grant from the National Historical Publications & Records Commission.
Spanning the years 1914-1973, the collection is composed primarily of legislative files and constituent correspondence relating to Maybank’s role as a member of the United States Senate and supplemented by personal papers including financial material, scrapbooks, newspaper clippings, photographs, personal correspondence, property and real estate investments. Also included are copies of printed material sent to Maybank as well as Maybank’s Senate voting record for his last few years of service.
The papers reflect Maybank’s principal Senatorial interests in government finance and national defense. Maybank also worked hard on the local level to bring in projects that benefited South Carolina including new projects and improvements for the Charleston Naval Shipyard, the Santee-Cooper Hydroelectric and Navigation project, and the Savannah River Site atomic plant. Throughout his career in the Senate, Maybank also worked to oppose civil rights legislation by supporting continued enforcement of the poll tax and segregation while opposing the implementation of a permanent Fair Employment Practices Commission (FPEC) citing such legislation as a violation of states’ rights. The Maybank papers also highlight the effects of World War II, the Korean War, and the beginnings of the Cold War on the United States and especially the state of South Carolina. Topics include projects to improve military installations, labor issues, the draft, and price controls.

L. Mendel Rivers papers, 1940-1962
L. Mendel Rivers was a United States Representative from South Carolina who served from 1942 until his death in 1970. This collection contains correspondence, memoranda, speeches, political files, printed materials, and other papers, relating chiefly to Rivers’s congressional service representing South Carolina and as a member of the House Committee on Armed Services, and to a lesser extent, the House Committee on Merchant Marine and Fisheries. Topics include the Bay of Pigs invasion, civil rights and desegregation in South Carolina, Rivers’s congressional campaigns, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Democratic National Committee, defense installations and military-related industries in his congressional district, political parties in South Carolina, the standard of living of military personnel, states rights, and shipping and boating legislation.

William Halsey papers
Halsey, Charleston’s most widely recognized artist from the second half of the twentieth century, is represented in the permanent collections of museums throughout the United States; he has had numerous one-man exhibitions and his work has been widely published. The collection contains sketchbooks which Halsey used to design the layout for Maya Journal, a volume of sketches he selected from ones made on numerous trips throughout the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico and at Copan in Guatemala.