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James Polzois papers

Identifier: Mss 0215

Collection Overview

This collection consists of the papers of James Polzois, artist. The papers date from 1864 to 2018, with the bulk of the materials dating from 1952 to 2018. The papers contain biographical materials, including educational and military records, correspondence and photographs documenting Polzois’ daily life, and memories of Polzois compiled by friends after his death. Art includes prints and published works of Charleston, South Carolina, area landmarks, drawings and sketches of architecture and city scenes, mixed material works including a three-dimensional art piece of Charleston architecture and history, and photographs of artwork including his miniature houses and a dining room mural. Writings include Polzois’ typescripts of articles and research in several different areas including Denmark Vesey, Harlan, Iowa, and the Charleston Unitarian Universalist Church. There is also a proposal written by Polzois for remodeling the Orpheum Theatre in Omaha, Nebraska. There are also reference files on art, architecture, and design compiled by Polzois including prints, architectural drawings, design catalogs, and artworks by others.


  • Creation: 1864-2018
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1952-2018


Language of Material

Materials are 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

James Demetrios Polzois was born in Harlan, Iowa, on January 13, 1939 to Cecile T. Christensen and Nicholas D. Polzois. After graduating from high school in Harlan, Polzois briefly attended the University of Iowa, where he majored in history. In 1961 he joined the U.S. Army Artillery and was stationed in Fort Sill, Oklahoma. Polzois was transferred to the Army Reserve in 1963. During this time he continued his studies at the Berryman Piano Conservatoire in Omaha and at The Creighton University in Omaha. He graduated from The Creighton University with a bachelor’s degree in 1966 and was honorably discharged from the Army Reserve in 1967. Polzois moved to Charleston, South Carolina, around 1973 and worked as the sexton at the Unitarian Universalist Church. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Polzois became business partners with Betsy Donlon, owner of the Charleston Packet, an art and gift shop. Prints of his posters were sold in the shop along with his miniature houses. In the early 1980s he was also the organist at the Huguenot Church. Polzois continued to study art and architecture in Charleston. In 1995 he published a set of twenty-five prints titled Building and Design in Early Charleston, and in 2001 a set of sixteen art prints titled Measured Drawings of Charleston Houses, Churches and Public Houses. He died in Charleston on September 17, 2018.


4.33 linear feet (2 document boxes, 2 flat boxes, 1 oversize paper folder, 1 flash drive)


The collection consists of the papers of James Polzois, an artist who lived in Charleston, South Carolina. The papers include photographs, prints, and original artworks of Charleston area architecture and church organs. There are also photographs, correspondence, and military records documenting Polzois’ life. The papers also include Polzois’ writings and research files, with a special focus on his research into Denmark Vesey.

Collection Arrangement

  1. Biographical materials, 1939, 1952-2006, 2018
  2. Art, 1975-2006
  3. Writings, circa 1870s, 1972, 2010-2018
  4. Reference files, 1864-1886, 1930, 1937, 1956

Acquisitions Information

Materials donated in 2020 by Patricia Curtis.

Processing Information

Processed by Rebecca Thayer, March 2020.

Inventory of the James Polzois Papers, 1864-2018
Processed by: Rebecca Thayer; finding aid created by: Rebecca Thayer
Description rules
Language of description
Script of description
Funding from the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation supported the processing of this collection and the creation of this 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)