Two Hundred Years of USC's Libraries

19th Century: Starting a College Library | Some Antebellum Treasures | Intellectual Ambitions | A Working Library | The Later 19th Century

20th Century: The Earlier 20th Century | The Recognition of Heritage | The Millionth Volume | Rare Books and Special Collections | Some Recent Gifts & Acquisitions

Foreword | 200 Years of Librarians | Selected References

Starting a College Library

South Carolina College library, Book 1
John Adolphus, 1768-1845,
The history of England, from the accession of King George the Third to the conclusion of peace
in the year one thousand seven hundred and eighty-three.

London: T. Cadell and W. Davies, 1802.
Soon after the chartering of South Carolina College, in December 1801, the legislature appropriated funds to provide both buildings and books for the new institution. In 1804, just before the college opened to students, it was reported that 5000 books had been ordered and that over $3000 had been expended for library acquisitions. As the label indicates, this three-volume history of Britain in the period of the American revolution was among the first books purchased.


The librarian who left his mark: Thomas Park
Thomas Park (1767-1844), a 1791 graduate from the new college president's former college, Brown, was professor of languages in South Carolina College from 1806-1835, and also served as Librarian (and Treasurer) from 1808-1823 and 1839-1844. Many of the library's books, like book 1 carry his ink inscriptions and comments, as seen here on the front endpapers of book 1.


A visitor to the library in 1805
Edward Hooker, 1785-1846
Diary of Edward Hooker, 1805-1808
from the Report of the Historical Manuscripts Commission of the American Historical
Association for 1896. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1897. Original wrappers.
Presented to August Kohn by F. C. Woodward, South Carolina College. From the Kohn-Hennig Collection, South Caroliniana Library.
Edward Hooker, an 1805 Yale graduate from Farmington, Connecticut, visited the campus during its first teaching year, and reported that the library, housed at that time in Rutledge College, had something over 3000 volumes. Subsequently Hooker became a tutor at the College before returning to Yale and a law career. Franklin C. Woodward (b. 1849) was professor of English at South Carolina from 1888, president of South Carolina College 1897-1892, and, for a brief period, titular librarian. On the Kohn-Henning Collection, see case 10.


Governor Drayton and the library
John Drayton (1766-1822), of Charleston, had himself studied both at Princeton under John Witherspoon and in London. As governor, in 1801, Drayton had recommended to the South Carolina legislature the establishment of the College, and he took a continuing interest in the development of its library. The books Drayton he sent in 1807 from Charleston to Columbia were the library's first major donation.


A further gift from Governor Drayton
John Drayton, 1766-1802),
Autograph letter, signed, to the Trustees of South Carolina College, 1814 (USC Archives)
--This letter of 1813 accompanied a further gift to the College library, in the wake of a hurricane in coastal Carolina (upright case 1A), and still more gifts would follow, including Drayton's gift of a 1757 Virgil.


Drayton, John Jay, and a periodical subscription
Memoirs of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, volumes 1 and 2.
Boston: the Academy, 1785 and 1793.
--Drayton had been given a copy of the Academy's first volume by John Jay, which he had passed on to the College (with both men's inscriptions). In sending the second volume, Drayton included a cover note signifying his intention of keeping the series going.


The Carolina FloristDrayton and botanical research
John Drayton, 1766-1822,
The Carolina Florist in which upwards of one thousand plants are mentioned.
Illustrated bound manuscript, 1807. South Caroliniana Library (Manuscript Department).
--Drayton was concerned not only with a strong classical library but also with science and natural history. He himself had become a member of the Royal Society of Sciences at Gottingen, and he comments in his preface presenting the volume to the college, dated August 29, 1807, that "already botany is studied in some of our colleges." Along with this original manuscript flora, Drayton also presented copies of Michaux's Flora Boreali-Americana (1803) and Shecut's Flora Carolinaensis (1806).


1810 loan recordsHow the early library worked
South Carolina College Library
Loan Records, 1810-1811.
Manuscript. USC Archives.
--According to the regulations of 1807, students could visit the library, by classes, and request books for loan, only once a week. Borrowing periods varied by the size of the book--one folio for four weeks, one quarto for three, an octavo for two weeks, or two little duodecimos for a week. This opening shows students borrowing Governor Drayton's book View of Carolina (1802), Thomas Jefferson's Notes on Virginia, and William Robertson's History of America, as well as volumes by Anacreon, Plutarch, Vaillant, Smollett, Gibbon, and Schiller.


Pro. Park - loan recordsWhat South Carolina students were reading in January 1810 This page is one of several loose leaves, in the distinctive hand of the then-librarian Prof. Thomas Park, checking out books to students, once a week, class by class. Their reading was not all from the Greek and Latin classics. This week, early in 1810, students in the junior class were reading Johnson, Hume, Goldsmith'sHistory of England, Tooke's Russian Empire, Bacon's Essays, and Cervantes's Don Quixote, while sophomores were checking out the Life of Washington, Adam Smith's Theory of Moral Sentiments, and James Macpherson's Ossian (USC Archives).

Columbia Departments Campus Libraries
Columbia Libraries and Collections