Discovering our Past is a free app and website that puts the history of the College of Charleston and Charleston at your fingertips. College of Charleston students, faculty, and community members have researched the stories on this website, which will continue to grow over time. Explore the sites and thematic, self-guided tours to learn more about the individuals, buildings, and events that shaped the College and the Charleston community.
The College of Charleston was conceived in the colonial era by leaders of a slaveholding society, dedicated to the education of the elite. From its beginnings until the twentieth century, the College was not much bigger than Cistern Yard and sometimes had only a handful of faculty and students. Surrounding that campus were houses of worship, schools, cemeteries, businesses, and residences, many on individual properties that the College now owns. Our campus and surrounding neighborhoods were occupied by many individuals and groups—enslaved and free, rich and poor, welcomed by the College and excluded from it--whose lives are not immediately visible in the monumental columns of Randolph Hall. All their stories and contributions are worth rediscovering and remembering.
Begun in honor of the College’s 250th anniversary, this ongoing project supports the College’s twenty-first-century mission of inclusion. It places the College within a more complex landscape, showing us who we were and who we have become. This in-depth, academically rigorous exploration of our past will be continually expanded and updated as we conduct new research, fill in gaps, and correct errors in the historical record. Many class projects, independent studies, and teams of researchers are contributing to this endeavor. If you’d like to share information or images, or if you have a new research topic to propose, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.