FOL Supports Acquisition of Rare Books for Mackenzie Library Collection

Thanks to the generosity of the Friends of the Library, the College of Charleston Special Collections has acquired two exciting new additions to the John Mackenzie Library Collection. These valuable acquisitions are a part of the Libraries’ effort to rebuild and restore the colonial library of John Mackenzie, a Goose Creek planter and Charles Town diplomat who donated his vast collection of books to the College of Charleston in 1771.

New Additions to the John Mackenzie Library Collection

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    A Dictionary of the English
    Language, 1755.

    A first edition of Samuel Johnson’s A Dictionary of the English Language. This two-volume set was originally published in London by W. Strahan for J. & P. Knapton in 1755. Immensely important, Samuel Johnson’s publication “had, in philology, the effect which Newton’s discoveries had in mathematics,” according to Noah Webster.

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    The Philosophy of History,

    A first edition of Francois-Marie Arouet Voltaire’s The Philosophy of History. This first edition copy in English was published in London in 1766. According to scholar Jerome Rosenthal: “Voltaire used the term ‘philosophy of history’ in two senses. In the first place it stood for an examination of certain of the facts recorded and of the views entertained in traditional books of history concerning the past life of humanity. In the second place it represents an attempt on the part of Voltaire to reinterpret the moral, aesthetic, and religious views, the customs and practices that prevailed in ancient civilizations.” This acquisition was made in honor of John Rivers’ seventieth birthday, a longtime supporter and Board Member of the Friends of the Library.

Mackenzie Library
John Mackenzie Library Collection

The original collection of John Mackenzie’s books ranged from poetry to prints, politics, and planting, and were published across the globe and over centuries. When fire consumed the collection in the midst of the Revolutionary War, all but seventy-seven of Mackenzie’s volumes were destroyed. If Mackenzie’s library had survived intact, the books would have offered the College’s first students extraordinary access to the classics, sciences, and summaries of human achievements up to the 1770s. Through a combination of acquisition and restoration, the Friends of the Library plans to rebuild the Mackenzie Library, opening a remarkable door into the past.

To learn more about the Mackenzie Library Project and how you can contribute to preserving and reassembling the collection, contact Development Officer Anahita Modaresi at 843.953.6526 or

To see a complete acquisition wish list of the Mackenzie Library Project, please click here.

To browse the current holdings of the John Mackenzie Library Collections available at Special Collections, please click here.