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Milton A. Pearlstine and Cecile M. Pearlstine papers

Identifier: Mss 1104

Collection Overview

The collection contains material relating to the life and work of Milton Alfred Pearlstine and Cecile Mayer Pearlstine. Materials pertaining to Milton Pearlstine contain assorted correspondence including a photocopied letter from South Carolina Governor John C. West designating Pearlstine as Member Emeritus of the Ports Authority; a letter electing him as an honorary member of the American Association of Port Authorities; and a letter from Charleston Mayor Joseph P. Riley Jr. thanking Pearlstine for his help with the Cooper River Waterfront Redevelopment project. Also included are letters of congratulation regarding a State Ports Authority luncheon and portrait unveiling held in 1988 in Pearlstine's honor. Materials concerning Pearlstine's education at The Citadel include first place track and field medals; his honorable discharge certificate; honorary degree of Doctor of Law; honorary doctorate cap and hood; and annual commencement program and invitations. The collection also includes Milton A. Pearlstine, 30 Years of Distinguished Public Service, a bound volume prepared by the South Carolina States Ports Authority as a tribute to Pearlstine on his retirement from the SPA board. Also included are certificates of admission, membership, and appreciation from local and regional fraternal, religious, and professional organizations. Photographs show Pearlstine with members of the SPA board as well as of his portrait unveiling ceremony. Also included are images of the Pearlstines at various public and private events. Clippings pertain to Pearlstine's professional career, his service on the SPA board, and his retirement. Materials relating to Cecile Mayer Pearlstine document her work with the National Council of Jewish Women. Also included are certificates of confirmation, honor, promotion, and volunteer service from the Mizpah synagogue in Chattanooga, Tennessee; Chattanooga High School; The American Red Cross; and the religious school of Temple Israel, Miami, Florida.


  • Creation: 1869-1994


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

Milton Alfred Pearlstine (1899-1994) was born in Mayesville, South Carolina, to Esther Strauss Pearlstine (1874-1934) and Hyman Pearlstine (1870-1934), co-owner of I. M. Pearlstine & Sons. In 1913 Milton entered The Citadel military college and graduated in 1919 with a Bachelor of Science degree. He maintained strong ties with the military college, serving as director emeritus of The Citadel Alumni Trust Fund, president and honorary life member of the Association of Citadel Men, and chairman of the Association's Board of Trustees for the Permanent Funds. In 1965 The Citadel awarded Pearlstine an honorary Doctor of Laws degree.

After graduation he entered the family business, I. M. Pearlstine & Sons, a wholesale grocery and hardware business founded in 1865 by his grandfather, Isaac Moses Pearlstine (1844-1911), and great-grandfather, Tanchum "Thomas" Pearlstine (1817-1877). After the death of Hyman Pearlstine, control of the business went to a cousin, Sam Cohen, and Hyman's two sons, Milton and Edwin. In 1950, after the retirement of Sam Cohen, Pearlstine liquidated the wholesale grocery and hardware business to allow the company to concentrate on beer distribution in Charleston and surrounding counties. In 1971 Milton's nephew, Edwin Pearlstine Jr., purchased the beverage division and Pearlstine Distributors was incorporated. I. M. Pearlstine & Sons became a real estate and investment management firm and finally the name of a holding company.

As one of the original board members appointed to the South Carolina State Ports Authority (SPA), Milton Pearlstine was instrumental in obtaining the former army port of embarkation in North Charleston from the federal government in 1947 for the SPA and in securing a $21 million state-funded expansion program for the renovation of the Charleston waterfront and the establishment of port facilities at Georgetown and Port Royal in 1957. In 1962 he chaired a SPA committee that established a grain elevator at the Port of Charleston, enabling major shipments of grain to pass through the ports, and facilitating the growth of the state's soybean industry. In 1972, after 30 years of service, Pearlstine retired from the SPA board, was awarded the Order of the Palmetto, the state's highest honor, and was named life-member emeritus of the Ports Authority. Pearlstine also served several terms on the board of directors of the American Association of Ports Authorities and was elected an honorary lifetime member in 1972. An active member Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim, Pearlstine served as president of the congregation from 1947 to 1949. In 1986, after extensive remodeling and renovation, the Bicentennial Tabernacle was rededicated Pearlstine Hall in honor of the contributions made toward its renovation by Pearlstine and his brother, Edwin. Milton also contributed to the historic preservation of downtown Charleston with his gift to the city of the Planters Hotel in 1935, making possible the construction of the Dock Street Theater within the shell of the old hotel.

Pearlstine's wife, Cecile Mayer Pearlstine (1912-1948), was born in Little Rock, Arkansas, to Fannye Latner Mayer (1884 -1951) and Sidney Hanaver Mayer (1880-1950). She was a graduate of Miami Beach High School and a 1933 graduate of Agnes Scott College. She was active in many civic organizations and served as president of the Charleston Section of the National Council of Jewish Women, the Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim Sisterhood, and the Happy Workers of Charleston. During World War II she belonged to the Red Cross Motor Corp. Cecile and Milton Pearlstine had two daughters, Mary Ann Pearlstine Aberman (b. 1935) and Barbara Pearlstine Lemel (1937-2010).


3.5 linear feet (1 document box, 3 flat boxes)


Correspondence, photographs, clippings, and other assorted papers relating to the life and work of Milton Alfred Pearlstine, founding member and secretary of the South Carolina State Ports Authority from 1942 to 1972 and president and secretary of I. M. Pearlstine & Sons. The collection also contains materials relating to his wife, civic volunteer and former president of the Charleston Section of the National Council of Jewish Women, Cecile Mayer Pearlstine.

Collection Arrangement

Materials are described at the folder level.

Acquisitions Information

Materials donated in 2005 by Barbara Pearlstine Lemel and Mary Ann Pearlstine Aberman.

Related Material

Related materials in Special Collections include the Rittenberg and Pearlstine papers (Mss 1008), the Pearlstine family papers: real estate and family documents (Mss 1027), the Pearlstine and Strauss family papers (Mss 1062), and oral history interviews with Hanna Pearlstine (Mss 1035-088), Eddie Aberman, Mary Ann Aberman, Jack Leader, Harriet Marshall Goode, and Martin Goode (Mss 1035-218), and Eddie Aberman and Mary Ann Pearlstine Aberman (Mss 1035-221).

Processing Information

Processed by Joshua Minor, July 2012.

Inventory of the Milton A. Pearlstine And Cecile M. Pearlstine Papers, 1869-1994
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)