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Harby family papers

Identifier: Mss 1116

Collection Overview

The most notable item in the collection, Isaac Harby's copybook, contains 23 transcribed essays originally written between 1802 and 1812, when Harby was between the ages of 14 and 24. They were copied into the book by various individuals, including some of his students as well as Harby himself, between 1810 and 1812. The majority of works are either essays written for the Philomathean Society or political essays and letters to the editors submitted to Charleston newspapers. Of note are Harby's first attempts at political commentary under the pseudonyms Aticus and Lucian, published in the Charleston Courier and the City Gazette and Commercial Daily Advertiser. Other works include one piece of dramatic criticism, several essays on political subjects, and a small number reflecting on the writings of classical authors or contemporary events. Likely a portion of the essays were never published.

The collection also includes an album containing clippings of poetry dating to the latter half of the 19th century, and a bride's book belonging to Aline Harby to record her marriage to Robert Leland Moore in 1917. The bride book contains information regarding the bride, groom, and wedding, which took place in Sumter, South Carolina, on November 1, 1917, as well as lists of bridal party members, guests, and engagement and wedding gifts, and descriptions of the gowns worn for the wedding, reception, and morning after the ceremony. Also includes congratulatory telegrams and wedding anniversary cards.


  • Creation: 1810-1917


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 and Historical Note

Isaac Harby (1788-1828) was born to Solomon and Rebecca Moses Harby in Charleston, South Carolina. As a child, Harby studied at the academy of Reverend William Best, and in 1804 he joined the Philomathean Society, a group dedicated to scholarly debate and discussion, becoming president of the group in 1807. As a young man, Harby apprenticed briefly in a law office, published a short-lived literary journal called the Quiver, and established an academy on Edisto Island to support his mother and siblings after his father's death in 1805. Soon after his marriage to Rachael Mordecai in 1810, Harby moved back to Charleston and opened a school called Harby's Academy. He was drawn back to publishing and editing, however, and in 1814 acquired the Charleston Investigator, which he renamed the Southern Patriot. He later served as the editor of the City Gazette and the Mercury. Harby was also a prolific writer who authored political commentary under several pseudonyms, wrote three plays, and was well known for his dramatic criticism.

Though he did not have a religious upbringing, Harby became more involved in Judaism as an adult. Troubled by efforts to convert Jews to Christianity, he and several other men petitioned the trustees of Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim (KKBE) to implement liturgical reforms. When KKBE refused to consider the petition, the group broke from the congregation and founded the Reformed Society of Israelites in 1825. By 1827, however, the group faltered, and in 1828, a year after his wife's death, Harby left Charleston for New York. There he enjoyed almost immediate success as an art critic for the Mirror and a dramatic critic for the Evening Post, but less than a year later fell ill with typhoid fever and died on December 14, 1828, just weeks after his 40th birthday.

Isaac Harby had six children with his wife Rachael. Their youngest child, Octavia, married Andrew Jackson Moses, with whom she had seventeen children. Her son Henry J. Harby married Adeline Emanuel, and the couple had three children, Alice, Hal, and Aline. Aline Harby married Robert Leland Moore in 1917.


0.75 linear feet (1 flat box and 1 document box)


Collection consists of materials relating to Isaac Harby, newspaper editor and publisher, teacher, playwright, drama critic, essayist, political and social commentator, and religious reformer, and Aline Harby, Isaac's great granddaughter. Materials include a copybook containing transcriptions of Isaac Harby's early essays, written between 1802 and 1812, a poetry clipping album from the late 19th century, and a bride's book.

Collection Arrangement

Collection described at the folder level.

Acquisitions Information

Materials donated in 2009 by Alice Moore Harrelson.

Related Material

Related materials in Special Collections include the Lee Cohen Harby papers (Mss 1019), the Isaac Harby Cashbook (Mss 1117), and the Octavia Harby Moses autograph album (Mss 1115).

Separated Material

Published items removed and cataloged separately.

Processing Information

Processed by Amy Lazarus, April 2015.

Inventory of the Harby family Papers, 1810-1917
Processed by: Amy Lazarus; machine-readable finding aid created by: Amy Lazarus
Description rules
Language of description
Script of description

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)