Notable Collections

The Special Collections at the College of Charleston is located on the third floor of the Marlene and Nathan Addlestone Library. The primary mission of Special Collections is to evaluate, acquire, organize, preserve, and make available rare printed and archival materials. Its holdings include the College archives, rare books, and manuscripts. The following are just a few of our most notable collections.

The Rabbi William A. Rosenthall Judaica Collection
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Click to view on the Lowcountry Digital Library.

In 2007, the College of Charleston Special Collections was pleased to accession the papers of William A. Rosenthall, rabbi, scholar, and collector of Judaica. Graciously donated by Rabbi Rosenthall’s widow Irene, this internationally important collection of fine art prints, topical files, sermons, printed materials, artifacts, and other historical papers form the William A. Rosenthall papers and the William A. Rosenthall Judaica collection.

Rabbi Rosenthall began collecting Judaica during his childhood, inspired after receiving a postcard of the Jugendstil Synagogue in Augsburg, Germany, from his grandmother. Searching all corners of the globe, he amassed a spectacular collection of printed material and artwork that traces the portrayal of Jews by scholars, artists, laypersons, and even anti-Semites from the 16th to the 21st centuries. The collection includes over 100 linear feet of rare books, fine art, postcards, illustrated journals, greeting cards, pamphlets, broadsides, newspapers, cartoons, etchings, chromolithographs, watercolors, medallions, stamps, and textiles.

The materials document the Jewish people: their lives, history, religious ceremonies, dress, and customs. A particular collecting focus of Rabbi Rosenthall was images of synagogues, including interior and exterior building views, maps, and panoramas. The images depict synagogues located around the globe, including European synagogues destroyed by the Nazis or converted to stables and warehouses. Many of these images as well as illustrations and photographs of Jewish ghettos, costumes, and cemeteries were grouped by subject and location and stored in approximately 90 portfolios. The portfolios also include Jewish caricatures, postage stamps, New Year cards, portraits of individuals, and clippings from Jewish journals and publications.

The Haslam Sporting Book Collection
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A stunning collection of angling and sporting books compiled by Dr. Greville A.G. Haslam and published between the 17th and early 20th century in Great Britain and the United States, the Haslam Collection was a gift of Howdy and Mary Phipps.

The creation of one man, the culmination of a lifetime of collecting, the Greville Haslam Sporting Book Collection of over 2,000 volumes offers students, scholars and members of the public the rare opportunity to view and consult works of some of the most celebrated writers, explorers, collectors and book artists of their time.

Centered on hunting and angling, as well as exploration and enjoyment of the natural world, the books’ texts tell the story of men and women in pursuit of not just prey, but contentment and joy. As objects, the volumes illustrate the glories of the bookmaker’s art. Enriching the volumes are their associations. Some bear the bookplates of Dean Sage, Thomas Westwood, John G. Heckscher and other leading collectors. There are signed and limited editions, as well as copies considered unique, due to their added illustrations and elegant bindings from the hands of such artists as Zaehnsdorf and Riviere and Sons.

A stellar part of the collection, invaluable for reference, includes over 400 copies of a single title – the most celebrated angling book of all time – Isaac Walton’s The Compleat Angler, first published in 1653. Another book in the collection written by Walton bears his signature; over 250 years later poet and playwright John Drinkwater signed his name to the same volume, adding it to his library.

The second strength of the collection centers on its 17th, 18th and 19th century titles. Included are those works most prized by hunters, anglers and bibliophiles, such as a 1655 edition of Hunger’s Prevention: Or the Whole Art of Fowling by Water or Land and two copies of the extremely rare Guide to Norway (1848), sought for its stunning color plates of lures. Samples of yarn and bird feathers are bound into some volumes, demonstrating the materials used in constructing flies; others contain the actual finished artifacts. Greville Haslam’s wide interests and acquaintanceships are reflected in letters and inscriptions from writers as diverse as Zane Gray; polar explorer Ernest Shackleton; Eugene Connett, publisher of the much sought-after Derrydale sporting books; and Lee Wulff, one of the 20th century’s best known anglers, and godfather of catch and release.

The James O. Rigney/Robert Jordan Collection

The College of Charleston’s Addlestone Library recently acquired the papers of James Oliver Rigney. A Charlestonian who wrote under the name Robert Jordan, Rigney wrote the phenomenally popular Wheel of Time science fiction series and Michael Fallon novels, among others. He passed away in 2007.

The James Rigney Collection includes never-before seen early and edited manuscripts, handwritten notes, photograph, swords and scabbards, video interviews, an early Apple computer loaded with 4,000 pages of his notes, and first editions of his works in dozens of languages.

“We’re having a really hard time containing our excitement” says Harlan Greene, Special Collections senior manuscript and reference archivist. “In this collection we have the literary manuscripts of one of the most popular writers of our time and a native of Charleston. Just as Jim blended fact and fantasy and the past and the future in his works, we now plan to employ both ‘futuristic,’ state-of-the-art technology and classic archival procedures to preserve the collection and make his papers as accessible to possible.”

Recognized as one of the most prolific and influential fantasy writers of our time, James O. Rigney, Jr., created a richly detailed and vividly imagined series that has captivated readers around the globe. The series, which has often been compared to the work of J. R. R. Tolkien in terms of its magic and magnetic hold on readers, has been translated into more than 30 languages and sold more than 44 million copies worldwide since its beginning over twenty years ago.

Harriet McDougal, James Rigney’s widow and editor, donated the collection to the College of Charleston last fall. “I wanted the papers to be in the college community,” McDougal said. “Once the collection is processed, researchers, students and fans will have an insider’s look into the one of the most legendary epic fantasy series.”