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Foundation Matters

Top Ten List of Archives Collections

Posted: April 10, 2018

Property files, architectural drawings, and photographs of buildings are the go-to collections for many of the researchers who visit, call, email, and even “snail-mail” Historic Charleston Foundation’s Archives but there are many other hidden treasures that provide a wealth of information about Charleston buildings, HCF’s preservation efforts in Charleston, and general Charleston history.  Here are ten of the lesser-known items and collections that are my favorites, in no particular order:

  1. Civic Services Committee Papers (1939-1949): Documentation of the predecessor body to Historic Charleston Foundation. Altogether, the records provide insight into Charleston civilian life during World War II and citizen participation, and reveal the early development of Charleston’s pioneering architectural preservation program.
  2. Loutrel Briggs Collection: Landscape plans, including original pencil drawings, for numerous gardens in Charleston and the vicinity.
  3. Frances Edmunds Papers (1950s-1980s):  The working files of HCF’s first and long-time Executive Director covering a wide range of her professional and personal activities, including the development of the revolving fund, expansion of the historic district, various city planning initiatives, purchase and operation of the Nathaniel Russell House, annual spring tours, and more.
  4. HCF’s Project/Study Maps (1960s-1970s): Created by Frances Edmunds and other HCF staff, these consist of copies of Sanborn Map pages, hand-colored, outlined to show boundaries, and annotated for use HCF’s use in the study of a variety of areas/boroughs.
  5. SC Department of Transportation Photographs (1960s): Almost 2,300 B&W photographs of buildings and properties demolished, relocated, or otherwise modified to accommodate road repairs and new road construction, including I-26, Savannah Highway/The Crosstown; Folly Road/St. Andrews Boulevard), Azalea Drive, Reynolds Avenue, and Remount Road.
  6. Pamphlets, Guidebooks, Booklets, Papers: Over 500 items dealing with a wide variety of topics including historic preservation, architecture, Charleston history, decorative arts, and Charleston history. Also includes over 60 tourist guidebooks and brochures (1900s-1980s) featuring points-of-interest, illustrations, photographs, and maps.
  7. The Art Work of Charleston (1893): A pictorial look at Charleston in twelve volumes, featuring buildings, docks, freight yards, industrial sites, monuments, etc. (Soon to be added to the Lowcountry Digital Library!)
  8. Preservation Consultants Collection (1980s): Documentation of the rehabilitation work on 135 Charleston buildings by Preservation Consultants, a preservation architecture firm. Includes certification applications (“Part 1” applications), description of rehabilitation (“Part 2” applications), research notes, drawings, photographs, and more.
  9. Hurricane Hugo Damage Assessment Survey: Building-by-building survey sheets and accompanying photographs. Also includes newspaper articles, documentation of the HCF Preservation Disaster Fund, and historic site inventories.
  10. Early 19th century newspapers: Bound volumes of the Charleston Evening Post and Commercial and Political Gazette from the first issue dated January 2 to April 22, 1815, and The Times from April 2 to September 30, 1808.

Keep these gems in mind next time you plan a research visit to HCF’s Archives! (Visits are by appointment only.)



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