Charleston Library Society | South Carolina Public Radio


“C” is for Charleston Library Society. The Charleston Library Society is the third-oldest institutional library in the United States. Established as a private, subscription library in 1748, it received a charter of incorporation in 1755. By 1778, the society’s book and periodical book collection numbered five thousand volumes. Society members promoted the idea of a colonial college and started a natural science collection that evolved into the Charleston Museum. The Charleston fire of 1778 destroyed all but a handful of the library’s books. In 1863, the librarian sent one-half of the books to Columbia for safe-keeping, but they were destroyed there in 1865. Among the library’s collection are books, audio and video collections, pamphlets, and manuscripts. The most significant collection is its newspaper files, which contain the world’s largest and most complete collection of 18th and 19th century Charleston newspapers.

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