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

South Caroliniana and McKissick

bulletin of USCBeginning the Second Century 
Edwin L. GreenYates Snowden and others,
Library (Bulletin of the University of South Carolina, VII). 
Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina, October 1906. Original wrappers.
--this post-centenary retrospect, published in the year the College finally took the title of University, usefully summarizes the history of the library and enumerates its treasures, but also argues that "the ordinary needs of the University demand an enlarged building" and that "a special hall . . . or a special room" was needed for the South Caroliniana collections, then being developed by a faculty committee in preparation for "extensive post-graduate work."

Robert M. KennedyRobert M. Kennedy 
Kennedy, librarian and professor of library science for 28 years (1912-1940), was himself a South Carolina graduate (A.B. 1885, A.M. 1898). He oversaw steady growth in his first decades, and in 1928 the expansion of the 1840 library building with the addition of the two fireproof wings. By 1931, space had already again run out, and the depression years were harder, with a small staff, low budgets, and multiplying and competing faculty expectations.

The Study of EthicsThe Demands of Modernity
John Dewey, 1859-1952.
The Study of Ethics, A Syllabus.
Ann Arbor, MI: The Inland Press, 1894. Original cloth. Ownership signature of Celia M.
Patterfield, U of C, '96.
--Many of the volumes added in the early twentieth century were needed to meet the new demands of emerging disciplines--education, psychology, business (or commerce), the applied sciences. This early work by the philosopher and educationist John Dewey, arguing for a "thorough psychological examination of the process of active experience," is in surprisingly good condition, but books from this period, weakly bound and printed on acidic paper, pose some of the greatest long-term challenges in the library's third century.

Annalen der PhysikThe Demands of Science
Albert Einstein,
"Die Grundlage der allgemeinen Relativitatstheorie,"
Annalen der Physik, 4th series, volume 49 (1916), 769-822.
--the early twentieth-century library faced a continuing backlog in current scientific periodicals. Displayed here is one of the great works only acquired after a time-lag, Einstein's announcement of the theory of relativity, an idea that not only transformed astrophysics and led to Einstein's Nobel Prize of 1921, but also rapidly entered the general culture in the age of modernism.

Bulletin of USCIdentifying South Caroliniana 
Elizabeth D. English; Robert M. Kennedy, ed.,
Caroliniana in the Library of the University of South Carolina (Bulletin of the University of South Carolina, no. 134).
Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina, December 1923.
Shown with
manuscript collection in South CarolinianaAllen H. Stokes,
A Guide to the Manuscript Collection of the South Caroliniana Library.
With a preface and introduction by E.L. Inabinet.
Columbia, SC: South Caroliniana Library, 1982.
--step by step, the expectations of the 1906 bulletin began to be realized. This catalogue from 1923 included the collection presented the previous spring by B.L. Abney. By 1931, a special committee had been created on Caroliniana, a support organization (the South Caroliniana Society) was started in 1937, and when the main collections were moved out with the construction of McKissick, the old 1840 library building was wholly devoted to the separate South Caroliniana Library, with Prof. R.L. Meriwether as first Director (1940-1958), followed in turn by the introducer and compiler of the second item displayed.

Knox, Essays, moral and literaryThe Charles Pinckney books
Vicesimus Knox, 1752-1821.
Essays, moral and literary.
New ed. 2 vols. Dublin: R. Marchbank, 1783. Signature of Charles Pinckney, dated New York, August 28, 1785.
--the new emphasis on research collections for South Caroliniana attracted a number of other valuable collections to follow the Abney library, including those of Yates Snowden and J. Rion McKissick. An anonymous gift from Bernard Baruch funded the 1934 purchase of the then-surviving personal library of Charles Pinckney (1757-1824), author of the Pinckney draft of the Constitution. This book was bought by Pinckney when he was in New York as a delegate to the congress of the earlier confederation.

bulletin of USC during McKissick eraJ. Rion McKissick and the McKissick Library
The stasis in library development was broken by J. Rion McKissick (1884-1944), the former journalism dean who took over as President in 1936. McKissick immediately negotiated the switch of Federal Works Project Administration funding from the previously-proposed additional faculty housing to a new library building at the head of the Horseshoe, on the site of the former president's residence. Ground was broken in 1939, and the library opened in May 1941, at a total cost of $560,374, with capacity for 350,000 books, more than twice the number then owned. As his 1939 report to the trustees shows, President McKissick was also actively lobbying for an increased acquisitions budget and for the recataloguing of the collections, from Cutter to the more modern Dewey Decimal Classification.

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