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Benjamin Berendt and Anna Gelson Berendt papers

Identifier: Mss 1089

Collection Overview

Writings, newspaper clippings, poetry, plays, publications, correspondence, photographs, and other personal papers of Benjamin Berendt and Anna Gelson Berendt of Charleston, South Carolina. Most of the writings, poetry, and plays were composed by Anna Gelson Berendt and include narrative histories of her ancestors in Russia and their immigration to the United States. Also included are materials relating to the Berendt family history and Benjamin's and Anna's travels as well as AZA Chapter 143 newsletters.


  • Creation: 1866-2010


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

Benjamin Berendt (1912-2010) was born in Charleston, South Carolina, to Isaac and Mary Berendt, who immigrated to New York in 1871 from Konin, Poland.

Benjamin Berendt attended Charleston High School, was an active member of AZA (Aleph Zadik Aleph) Chapter 143, and studied history at the College of Charleston, where he graduated in 1935. Berendt became a partner of Berendt Brothers, Inc. and traveled throughout the Carolinas and Georgia selling wholesale shoes, handbags, and other leather goods.

Anna Gelson (1913-2001) was born in Poughkeepsie, New York, to Louis and Zelda Gelson. The family moved to Charleston, South Carolina, and spent a brief period on Yonges Island following Louis Gelson's death. They eventually returned to Charleston and opened a grocery store at 572 Meeting Street.

Gelson and Berendt were married in 1940. Following the attack on Pearl Harbor, Benjamin Berendt enlisted in the U.S. Navy and served as a shore patrol officer in the South Pacific. Anna Berendt worked as a civilian employee at the North Charleston naval base, where she handled purchase requisitions for naval supplies. After the war, Benjamin Berendt continued his work as a salesman. The Berendts were members of Charleston's Brith Sholom Beth Israel, and Anna was active in the Charleston chapter of Hadassah and the National Council of Jewish Women. She also served as an advisor for B'nai B'rith Girls (sister organization to AZA) and was an avid writer.


3.40 linear feet (2 document boxes, 1 slim document box, 1 flat box, 1 oversize folder)


Writings, newspaper clippings, poetry, plays, publications, correspondence, photographs, and other personal papers of Benjamin Berendt and Anna Gelson Berendt of Charleston, South Carolina. Materials mostly relate to the Berendt and Gelson family histories as well as Benjamin's and Anna's travels. Also included are Aleph Zadik Aleph Chapter 143 publications from the 1950s and 1960s.

Collection Arrangement

Materials are described at the folder level.

Acquisitions Information

Materials donated in 2011 by Gerald E. Berendt.

Related Material

Related materials in Special Collections include a 1996 oral history interview with Benjamin Berendt (Mss 1035-076).

Processing Information

Processed by Joshua Minor and Sarah M. Dorpinghaus, April 2011.

Inventory of the Benjamin Berendt and Anna Gelson Berendt Papers, 1866-2010
Processed by: Joshua Minor and Sarah M. Dorpinghaus; 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)