Caroliniana Columns
Newsletter of the University South Caroliniana Society
Spring 1999

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Library Acquires
Williams-Chesnut-Manning Papers

by Allen Stokes
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Celebrated diarist, Mary Boykin Chesnut (1823-1886)
Carte-de-visite, ca. 1862.
In 1998, through the generosity of the University South Caroliniana Society, the South Caroliniana Library acquired over 1,800 manuscripts of the Williams-Chesnut-Manning families, of Camden, and Kershaw, Sumter, and Clarendon districts. The papers, which have been on deposit at the library since 1962, were appraised and purchased from the owners with funds from the University South Caroliniana Society's endowment. In addition to
more than 3,500 letters and other papers, the library's holdings now include the diary of Mary Boykin Chesnut and her unpublished writings including "Two Years of my life," "The Captain and the Colonel," "A boarding school of fifty years ago," and "The Bright Side of Richmond winter of 1864-Scraps from a diary."

Members of the Williams, Chesnut, and Manning families were prominent in South Carolina's political, social, economic, and military history throughout the 19th century. Among the earliest documents in the collection are papers of John and James Chesnut and Richard and Richard I. Manning. Papers of Richard I. Manning include his military papers as colonel and deputy adjutant general of the 3rd Division, South Carolina Militia and accounts and correspondence with Charleston cotton factor, Duke Goodman.

manning.jpg
Letters in the Williams-Chesnut-Manning Papers include those of Richard I. Manning (1789-1836)
Governor of South Carolina, 1824-1826.

There is also correspondence between James Chesnut and his son John, Jr., and estate papers of James's father John Chesnut. A large group of papers for the period from April 1825 through April 1826 are personal and official correspondence of Governor Richard I. Manning. Another significant group of papers covering the period of the Civil War through Reconstruction contains correspondence of James Chesnut and John L. Manning and includes letters received by Chesnut while serving in the United States Senate in 1860 and by Manning while attending the Secession Convention in Charleston from 1860 to 1862.

Throughout the collection there is correspondence of notable South Carolinians and persons from other southern states. Their letters discuss a variety of topics from the politics of nullification and slavery to agricultural interests in South Carolina and Louisiana as well as family and domestic affairs.

Mulberry, near Camden, S.C.
In 1840, seventeen-year-old Mary Boykin Miller married James Chesnut (1815-1885). They lived at Mulberry until 1848 when the couple moved into Camden, S.C.
The home has served generations of Williams, Chesnuts and related families represented in this collection.
maning4.jpg

With this most recent acquisition of Williams-Chesnut-Manning papers, all materials relating to these families can be integrated and a detailed finding aid prepared for the entire collection. The publication of a finding aid will enhance access to the collection for researchers.

The staff of the South Caroliniana Library are grateful to the University South Caroliniana Society for providing the funds that enabled the library to preserve in South Carolina one of the most important collections for studying South Carolina and the South in the 19th century.

CourthouseKershaw County Courthouse (constructed ca. 1820)
The Williams, Chesnut, and Manning families counted numerous lawyers among their number, many of whom practiced law in this Camden courthouse.

Other areas represented in the collection include the counties of Sumter and Clarendon. The scope of topics discussed extends far beyond South Carolina, however, given the political careers and financial interests of the correspondents.


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