In honor of our 250th anniversary, the College is examining many of the diverse pasts and presences that are part of our storied campus. Just as we embrace inclusivity in our present, this project encompasses all who were part of our past, whose presences linger on the land and in our buildings, and whose contributions and stories enrich the narrative that emerges as the unfolding epic tale of the College of Charleston.
The College was conceived in the colonial era by leaders of a slaveholding society, dedicated to the education of the elite. This project explores the lives and labors of those excluded from our original mission, whose stories are not immediately visible in the monumental columns of Randolph Hall. Our tour places the College within a more complex landscape, showing us who we were and who we have become.
Throughout much of its 250-year history, the College was not much bigger than Cistern Yard and sometimes had only a handful of faculty and students. Surrounding the campus were houses of worship, schools, cemeteries, businesses, and residences, all on individual properties that the College now owns. These spaces were occupied by many individuals and groups—enslaved and free, rich and poor, welcomed by the College and excluded from it.
Today, to fulfill the College’s current mission of inclusion rather than exclusion, we’re enriching our understanding of our shared past. Many class projects, independent studies, and teams of researchers are part of this endeavor. We’re studying published histories, archival materials, government records, and the spaces themselves. Through this fascinating and painstaking work, we’re filling in gaps, correcting errors in the historical record, and making visible many more of the stories that have occurred in our neighborhood. More detailed citations for each essay will be made available in the near future. Our ongoing discoveries will be shared on this website.
250th Anniversary Historical Documentation Committee: Julia Eichelberger, Harlan Greene, Ron Menchaca, co-chairs
Researchers: Sarah Fick, Grayson Harris, Erik Cronell, Keyasia Pride
Website Curator: Grayson Harris
Special thanks for assistance with information, images, and permissions: Aaisha Haykal and Daron Calhoun, Avery Research Center; Melissa Mabry, Catholic Diocese of Charleston; Reference Librarians at College of Charleston’s Addlestone Library; John Morris and Michael Turner, College of Charleston Facilities Management; Meredith Perrone, College of Charleston Marketing and Communications; College of Charleston Office of Information Technology; Melantha Ardrey, College of Charleston Office of Residence Life; Mary Jo Fairchild, Sam Stewart, and Staff at College of Charleston’s Special Collections and South Carolina Historical Society;; Karen Emmons, Historic Charleston Foundation; Sarah Tignor, The Johnson Collection; Leah Worthington, Lowcountry Digital History Initiative; Preservation Society of Charleston.
Website reviewers: We thank all those who offered suggestions during the research and writing process: Jen Baker, Kris DeWelde, Adam Domby, Rachel Donaldson, Mary Jo Fairchild, Valerie Frazier, Renard Harris, Aaisha Haykal, Joe Kelly, Simon Lewis, Charissa Owens, Katherine Pemberton, Bernard Powers, Dale Rosengarten, Barry Stiefel, Michael Turner, Liz Whitworth.
Sources: These essays reflect the prior work of many scholars and historians. We particularly acknowledge the following: histories of the College by J.H. Easterby (covering 1770-1935) and Nan Morrison (covering 1935-2008); Robert Russell’s and Robert Stockton’s research on the history of Randolph Hall and Cistern Yard; research by the Center for the Study of Slavery in Charleston (in progress since 2018); property research from Mapping Jewish Charleston; archival material presented in books by Katherine Chaddock and Carolyn Matalene and by Katina and Ileana Strauch. We also benefited from research CofC students did for classes in English, Historic Preservation and Community Planning, History, Women’s and Gender Studies, African American Studies, and Southern Studies.