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Rhetta A. Mendelsohn collection

Identifier: Mss 1105

Collection Overview

Photographs, correspondence and assorted papers of the Block, Rich, and Aronson families of Camden, South Carolina, and Orangeburg, South Carolina. The collection primarily consists of black and white photographs of the Block, Rich, and Aronson families, relatives, and friends. Photographs include images of Louis Leopold and Rosa Hirsch Block; Philip and Rosa Platchek Rich; Lipman Philip and Henrietta Block Rich; daughter, Rose Louise Rich Aronson; Henrietta Furshman Aronson; and her children, Albert Aronson, Harold Marion Aronson, and Doris Aronson. Also included is a small amount of correspondence consisting of the wedding invitation of Bella Block and Keeve Marks and letters to Bella Block from Louise Rosefield concerning family genealogy. Assorted papers include the marriage certificate of Louis Leopold Block and Rosa Hirsch, the High school diploma of Harold Marion Aronson, a small journal of Gustav Kaplan Rich containing handwritten poetry and assorted clippings of poetry taken from newspapers, a small infant gown, and napkin.


  • Creation: 1850s-1986


Language of Material

Materials in English

Access Restrictions

This collection is open for research.

Copyright Notice

The nature of the College of Charleston's archival holdings means that copyright or other information about restrictions may be difficult or even impossible to determine despite reasonable efforts. Special Collections claims only physical ownership of most archival materials.

The materials from our collections are made available for use in research, teaching, and private study, pursuant to U.S. copyright law. The user must assume full responsibility for any use of the materials, including but not limited to, infringement of copyright and publication rights of reproduced materials. Any materials used for academic research or otherwise should be fully credited with the source.

Biographical Note

Louis Leopold Block (1868-1940), from the Black Forest of Bavaria, arrived in Camden, South Carolina, in the late 1880s where his cousins, the Geisenheimer family, lived. He went into business with Jake and Gus Hirsch, and married their sister Rosa Hirsch (1862-1902). Hirsch Brothers & Block grew into the biggest store in Camden. The Block's had three daughters: Bella Block (1896-1987), Henrietta Block (1897-1985), and Rosalie Carolyn Block (1900-1977). In March 1920, Bella married Keeve Marks of Richmond, Virginia, and a month later, Henrietta married Lipman Rich (1894-1968), son of Philip Rich (1862-1911) and Rosa Platchek Rich (1871-1935), of Orangeburg, South Carolina. Rosalie remained single, living with her father until he died in 1940, afterwards splitting her time between her sisters' homes in Richmond and Orangeburg. Lipman Rich, who in 1911 took Philip as his middle name in memory of his father, operated two stores in Orangeburg, South Carolina—an Army surplus store and a ladies' ready-to-wear shop. His businesses fell victim to the Great Depression and he took a job as an insurance agent for Metropolitan life. He later became a consultant to the company and retired five years before his death in 1968. Their one child, Rose Louise Rich (1922-2004), was instrumental in organizing Temple Sinai, Orangeburg's Jewish congregation.

Solomon Samuel Aronson, or Sam, emigrated from Kovno Gubernia, Russia, circa 1900, when he was about thirteen years old. He joined the family in Charleston, South Carolina, that sponsored his immigration, and worked for various merchants before opening a dry goods store in Lane, South Carolina. Henrietta Furshman (1897-1985), his wife, was the daughter of Russian immigrants. Born and raised in New York City, she met Sam through her sister, who married his older brother Aron. Sam and Henrietta's sons, Albert Aronson (1916-1990) and Harold Marion Aronson (1919- ), were born in Lane before the family moved to Bayonne, New Jersey, where they had relatives. In New Jersey Doris Aronson (1924- ), was born. In 1937 the family moved back, this time settling in Kingstree, South Carolina. During World War II Harold served as a B-17 pilot, conducting weather reconnaissance missions out of England. Reassigned to the States, Harold married Rose Louise Rich in 1944. After he was discharged, they settled in her hometown, Orangeburg, South Carolina, where they established a successful aluminum awning business. Rose and Harold had two daughters, Rhetta Aronson Mendelsohn (1946- ) and Carol Aronson (1949- ).


1.55 linear feet (1 document box, 1 flat box, 1 oversize folder)


Photographs, assorted correspondence and papers of the Block, Rich, and Aronson families of Camden, South Carolina, Orangeburg, South Carolina, and Kingstree, South Carolina collected by Rhetta A. Mendelsohn.

Collection Arrangement

  1. Block and Rich family, 1850s-1977
  2. Aronson family, 1907-1986

Acquisitions Information

Materials donated in 2005 by Rosalie Marks Nachman and in 2008 by Rhetta Aronson Mendelsohn.

Related Material

Related materials in Special Collections include oral history interviews with Harold M. Aronson (Mss 1035-053), Rose Louise Rich Aronson (Mss 1035-054), and genealogical materials located in the Jewish Heritage Collection vertical files.

Processing Information

Processed by Joshua Minor, July 2012.



Inventory of the Rhetta A. Mendelsohn Collection, 1850s-1986
Processed by: Joshua Minor; machine-readable finding aid created by: Joshua Minor
Description rules
Language of description
Script of description
Funding from the Council on Library and Information Resources supported the processing of this collection and encoding of the finding aid.

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Repository

Special Collections
College of Charleston Libraries
66 George Street
Charleston South Carolina 29424
(843) 953-8016
(843) 953-6319 (Fax)