The Mackenzie Library

In 1771, before receiving its charter, the College of Charleston received its first donation of books. More than 800 books, actually. John Mackenzie, a Goose Creek planter and Charleston Towne diplomat, donated his vast library to the Charleston Library Society until the creation of a college was confirmed. He buttressed his gift with a thousand pound contribution toward building and endowing the College. War broke out in 1776, and a fire consumed much of Charleston in 1778, burning nearly all the contents of the Library Society; only seventy seven of Mackenzie’s library survived – scorched, yet intact – with the elegant gold stamp of his name a reminder of the man who wanted to endow the College with political liberty and freedom of thought.

Today, the College of Charleston Libraries is the region’s most impressive academic research center; and now steps are being taken to fulfill the wishes of one of its most distinguished founders. 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.


How You Can Help
  • Specific Acquisition Support – Sponsor the acquisition of a title that is special to you.
  • General Acquisition Support – Support the project and allow library staff to acquire titles to support the growth of the Mackenzie Library Project.
  • Conversation Support – Sponsor an original Mackenzie volume currently on hand but in need of conservation and restoration.
  • Gifts-In-Kind – Contribute a book on the wish list in-kind. Tax-deductible contributions to the College of Charleston Foundation are possible.

*For more information about supporting the Mackenzie Library Project please contact Anahita Modaresi at 843.953.6526 or modaresia@cofc.edu.

Wish List

Below is a list of the Libraries most desired books from the Mackenzie Library.  They have been categorized by subject, please click on each subject to find out which books we are looking for!

By Subject: LiteratureThe ArtsGeographyLawHistoryMedicineAgricultureSocial Sciences 

Complete List

We are trying to acquire all of the books in the Mackenzie Library. Click below for a FULL list by subject of every book we need to complete the library.

By Subject: AgricultureAuxiliary SciencesBibliographyEducationFine ArtsGeographyHistoryLanguagesLawLiteratureMedicineMilitary Science , MiscellaneousPhilosophy, Psychology, and Religion Political ScienceSciencesSocial Sciences

Learn More About the Mackenzie Library Project

Discovering Mackenzie’s Legacy

Though largely forgotten today, John Mackenzie of Charles Towne was one of the pre-Revolutionary era’s most outspoken champions. Mackenzie boldly called on colonists to stand up to Great Britain’s Townsend Acts, taxing the colonies without representation. A native of Charleston and educated at Cambridge, he was admitted to the Bar in 1759, became a planter and served in the South Carolina Commons House of Assembly. His death in 1771 prompted one poet to lament: “All social virtues fired his honest breast, but Public Love shone brighter than the rest.”

A Historic Collection

A year after Mackenzie’s death, a list of the more than 800 volumes and 413 titles in his library was published. The place and publication date of each volume is listed allowing us the opportunity to find the same editions that were destined for us. The books range from poetry to prints, politics and planting, and span the globe and centuries: published between 1633 and 1769, in cities such as Boston, Berlin, Eton, Edinburgh, London, Paris, and Amsterdam. If they had survived the fire, they would have offered the College’s first students extraordinary access to the classics, sciences, and summaries of human achievements up to the 1770s. By the time of his death, his collection of books comprised the second most valuable library in the colony, according to South Carolina historian Walter Edgar.