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Charlie Smith papers

Identifier: Mss 0218

Collection Overview

The collection consists of the papers of Charlie Smith, LGBTQ rights activist, politician, and realtor. Where possible, original folder titles have been retained. Political campaign records include memorabilia from Smith’s run for Village Council in Miami Shores, Florida, and subject files from his campaigns for South Carolina House 119 in 2002 and 2004. Professional papers include plans, meeting agendas, and minutes from the Charleston County Planning Commission, videocassettes from the Alliance for Full Acceptance, and a workbook and business card from Smith’s real estate agency, CSA Real Estate. Family papers include photographs, correspondence, newspaper clippings, and memorabilia from Smith’s relatives in the Smith, Sligh, Fanning, Nettles, and related families. Smith family papers notably include materials from Smith’s great-uncle, Colonel Charles David Smith, who served in the U.S. Army during World War II and later in Iran in the 1950s.


  • Creation: 1936-2020


Access Restrictions

This collection is open for research, with the following exceptions: Born-digital materials, 2002-2004 subseries; Born-digital materials, 2020 subseries; and Born-digital materials, 1994 subseries. Access is restricted to certain materials in these subseries as indicated. Additionally, some materials are currently unprocessed. Materials are not available in their original format and must be reformatted to digital access copies.

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.[Identification of item], Linda G. Ketner Papers, College of Charleston Libraries, Charleston, SC, USA.

Biographical Note

Charles William Smith, known as Charlie, was born on December 15, 1959, in Orangeburg, South Carolina, to James Alexander Smith, Jr. and Irene Elizabeth Fanning Smith. He has an older sister, Betsey, and a younger sister, Kitty. An older brother, James “Al” Alexander, died as a child in 1964. Growing up, Smith lived in Florence and Union, South Carolina. He attended the College of Charleston, receiving a B.A. in Urban Studies, and then received a Master’s degree in City and Regional Planning from Clemson University before moving to Miami Shores, Florida, in 1984. In 1987, Smith started dating Carlos Guillermo Rodriguez-Mendez, and the two remained together until Rodriguez-Mendez’s death from AIDS in 1995. Smith served as warden at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, Miami, Florida, from 1986 to 1988. In 1993 Smith ran for Village Council in Miami Shores and lost, but joined the planning commission. In 1996, Smith moved back to Charleston, South Carolina. He founded his real estate brokerage, CSA Real Estate Services, as the first openly gay-owned and operated brokerage in the area. In 1998, Smith was one of the founding members of the Alliance for Full Acceptance (AFFA), a social justice organization dedicated to education and advocacy on behalf of the LGBTQ community. He also served as a board member for We Are Family, an LGBTQ youth organization, and the Lowcountry Gay & Lesbian Alliance. Smith ran for the South Carolina House of Representatives in District 119 as a Democrat in both 2002 and 2004, losing to Republican incumbent John Graham Altman III. Smith served as a Charleston County Planning Commissioner and as a member of the West Ashley Revitalization Commission. In 2015, Smith married Robert J. Suli, Jr.


5.13 linear feet (7 document boxes, 1 half-size document box, 2 flat boxes, 1 oversize paper folder, 16 compact discs, 14 videocassettes, 4 unprocessed 3.5” floppy discs, 1 unprocessed 30 GB USB drive)

Language of Materials



This collection consists of the papers of Charlie Smith, white activist for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) rights, political candidate, and real estate broker. The papers include biographical material about Smith. There are also subject files and audiovisual materials from Smith’s political campaigns for Village Council in Miami Shores, Florida, and for South Carolina House District 119 in Charleston, South Carolina. There are professional papers relating to Smith’s real estate business, participation on the Charleston County Planning Commission, historical research on the West Ashley neighborhood of Charleston, and work with the Alliance for Full Acceptance. There are also family papers relating to Smith’s relatives in the Smith, Sligh, Fanning, Nettles, and related families.

Collection Arrangement

  1. Biographical materials, circa 1973-2020
  2. Political campaign records, circa 1991-2007
  3. Professional papers, 1999, 2008-2020
  4. Family papers, 1936-2018

Acquisitions Information

Materials donated in 2018 and 2020 by Charlie Smith.


Additional accruals are expected.

Related Material

Related materials in Special Collections include the Alliance for Full Acceptance records (Mss 0205). Related oral histories in Special Collections include Interview with Charles Smith, July 7, 2018 (Mss LGBTQ-OH-007).

Processing Information

Processed by Rebecca Thayer, August 2020.



Inventory of the Charlie Smith Papers, 1940-2020
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)