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Charleston Free Library Rosenwald Fund records

Identifier: AMN 1151

Scope and Contents

The Charleston Free Library Rosenwald Fund collection contains information about the creation of the Charleston Free Library with the support of the Rosenwald Fund. The bulk of the information is financial reports and administrative correspondence between librarian administrators and the Rosenwald Fund administrators, in addition to a certificate of incorporation, as well as other miscellaneous documents.

The collection is arranged into three series: 1. Administrative Documents, 1930-1942, are divided into two subseries. 1.1 Governing documents and 1.2 Administrative Correspondence, which include letters from head librarian Parmelee Cheves, 1932-39. Series 2. Fiscal Reports, 1931-1946 includes financial records related to the library's management of the Rosenwald Fund and is divided into two subseries, 2.1. Quarterly Financial Reports for Charleston Free Library, 1931-1935 and 2.2 Annual Financial and Statistical Reports for the Charleston Free Library, 1932-1946. The third and final series Various Records, 1933, consists of one file, The Julian Rosenwald Fund and Interstate School Building Service, 1933.


  • Creation: 1930-1945

Access Restrictions

No restrictions

Copyright Notice

The nature of the Avery Research Center's archival holdings means that copyright or other information about restrictions may be difficult or even impossible to determine despite reasonable efforts. The Avery Research Center 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.

Historical Note

The Charleston Free Library of the County of Charleston opened its doors on January 1, 1931. It was originally housed in the Charleston Museum building with Dr. Charles B. Foelsch as President of the Board of Trustees and Laura N. Bragg, Director of the Charleston Museum, as Librarian. Under the leadership of head librarian Parmelee Cheves, the library continued to expand with the support of the Rosenwald Fund.

The Rosenwald Fund was named after Julian Rosenwald, part-owner and president of Sears, Roebuck and Co. Rosenwald created the Rosenwald Fund, which donated millions in matching funds to promote the building of educational facilities across 15 states as well as libraries. The Rosenwald Fund, established in 1912, was instrumental in the construction of nearly 5,000 African American schools in the rural South. Rosenwald’s philanthropic effort, particularly in regards to the African American community, was deeply influenced by Booker T. Washington. Rosenwald intended for his fund to be for the good of all, regardless of race, therefore the Rosenwald Fund would only be awarded to the Charleston Free Library as long as it provided equal access to all regardless of race. The Rosenwald Fund contributed over $80,000 to the Charleston Free Library during its early years, which laid the foundation for its growth into the Charleston County Public Library.


“Rosenwald Schools,” South Carolina Department of Archives and History /> accessed 20 November 2020

"So Good and Necessary a Work": The Public Library in South Carolina, 1698-1980 (Columbia: South Carolina State Library, 1981), p. 15-16.

Weathers, Lindsay C. M., “The Rosenwald School Building Program in South Carolina, 1917-1932,” National Register of Historic Places Multiple Property Documentation Form, University of South Carolina Public History Program (2008) /> accessed 20 November 2020


0.21 linear feet

Language of Materials



The Charleston Free Library, Charleston's first public library, opened its doors on January 1, 1931. The establishment of this library was made possible with the support of the Julius Rosenwald Fund. A grand total of $80,000 was awarded to the Free Charleston Library with the goal of “enabling the county to get this service started with the best possible standards.” The funds were distributed over a five year period. The Charleston Free Library Rosenwald Fund collection contains correspondence between Rosenwald Fund Administrators and the Charleston Free Library staff members, financial reports and statements, and various documents pertaining to the maintenance of Rosenwald Schools.

Collection Arrangement

1. Administrative Documents, 1930-1942

1.1. Governing Documents, 1930

1.2. Administrative Correspondence, 1930-1942

2. Fiscal Reports, 1931-1946

2.1. Quarterly Financial Reports for Charleston Free Library, 1931-1935

2.2 Annual Financial and Statistical Reports for the Charleston Free Library, 1932-1946

3. Various Records, 1933

Related Materials

South Carolina Rosenwald Schools (AMN 1152)

Inventory of Charleston Free Library Rosenwald Fund records, 1930-1945
In Progress
Joshua Parks
November 2020-April 2021
Description rules
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture Repository

125 Bull Street
Charleston South Carolina 29424 United States