Creator Dart, John L.
Date 1895–1898
Physical description 1 folder
Preferred Citation [Identification of the Specific Item], Charleston Industrial Institute Materials, 1895–1898, Charleston County Public Library, Charleston, SC.
Repository The Charleston Archive
Compiled By Processed 2010, K. Gray
Access to materials Collection is open for research.
Subject Headings Charleston Normal and Industrial Institute
African Americans--Education--South Carolina--Charleston
Trade schools--South Carolina--Charleston
Schools--South Carolina--Charleston
African American schools--South Carolina--Charleston
Vocational education--South Carolina--Charleston
  Portions of this collection have been digitized and are available online.

Scope and Content

This collection consists of two items pertaining to the Charleston Industrial Institute.

The first item is a typescript copy of a letter sent to Reverend John L. Dart from Charles H. Simonton on June 17, 1895. The contents of the letter consist of Simonton's commendations and congratulations to Dart for the work he was undertaking with the Charleston Industrial Institute for Girls

The second item is a handwritten statement by Rev. Dart on stationery from the Charleston Industrial Institute and Home for Girls, dated May 10, 1898. The statement records the laying of the cornerstone of the Charleston Normal and Industrial Institute, specifies the management and mission of the institute, and lists the corporators. This item includes the original envelope, labeled "Statement."


Administrative/Biographical History

In 1895, Rev. John L. Dart and other prominent members of the Charleston African American community founded the Charleston Industrial Institute. The aim of the institute was to provide African American children with a school, "where they could be taught not only reading and writing, but the lessons of morals, temperance, sewing, cooking, nursing, housework, carpentering, etc." The school was a two-story structure situated on a lot of land on Kracke Street. In its first year of operation, the institute had seventy children enrolled in the school and twelve in the Kindergarten. In theory, each child was required to pay a weekly fee of five cents, although those unable to pay were given instruction, nonetheless.1

The Charleston Industrial Institute grew in the ensuing years, serving more students, both male and female, and adding additional facilities. The building that would eventually become known as Dart Hall is believed to have been built in 1898, the same year the Institute became incorporated.2 It is unclear when the Charleston Industrial Institute ceased functioning as an active school, although sources suggest that Julia Pierre Dart, the wife of Rev. Dart, continued to run the institution for some years after his death in 1915.3

In the early 1920s, Rev. Dart's daughter, Susan Dart Butler, began to see a need in the African American community for a library. To that end, she transformed one of the rooms in Dart Hall into a reading room, stocking it initially with books from her late father's personal library. The room she chose had once served as the printing room of the newspaper Southern Reporter, during Rev. Dart's tenure as editor from 1905–1913. The Dart Hall reading room and library opened in 1927.4 It is believed that the presence of the Dart Library in the Charleston community helped persuade the representatives of the Rosenwald Fund and the Carnegie Foundation to endow Charleston County's Free Library in 1931.5 Dart Hall, which was purchased by the County in 1952, remained a branch of the Free Library until 1967, when the new John L. Dart Branch Library was built at 1067 King Street. Dart Library continues to be part of the Charleston County Public Library system to this day. The original Dart Hall fell to the wrecking crews in 1968.

Note: There are several variations on the name of the institution, including: Charleston Industrial Institute and Home for Girls; Charleston Industrial Institute; Charleston Normal and Industrial Institute.

1 -- Prospectus of the Charleston Industrial Institute and Home for Girls. 1895.

2 -- see Statement of Rev. John L. Dart, May 10, 1898 in this collection.

3 -- Caldwell, A. B. History of the American Negro, South Carolina Edition.(Atlanta, GA: A. B. Caldwell Publishing Co., 1919): 210–212.

4 -- Butler, Susan Dart. “Do You Know Your Charleston: Dart Library Branch.” News &Courier, December 26, 1952.

5 -- “Charleston County Buys Dart Hall, Plans to Continue Negro Library Branch There.” News & Courier, December 17, 1952.


Additional Finding Aids

Transcripts of both items are available in the Charleston Archive, Charleston County Public Library.


Related Archival Materials

The 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 7th Annual Prospectuses of the Charleston Industrial Institute are housed in the Charleston Archive at the Charleston County Public Library under the following call number: SC_Pam 373.75791 Charlest.



Both items in this collection have suffered significant water and mold damage and have undergone repairs in-house.


Personal Names

Dart, John L. Simonton, Charles H. (Charles Henry), 1829-1904


Collection Outline

I. Typescript copy of letter, Charles H. Simonton to Rev. John L. Dart, 17 June 1895, 1 page (transcript available)

II. Handwritten statement of Rev. John L. Dart, President, Charleston Industrial Institute, 10 May 1898, 2 pages and envelope (transcript available)



I. Letter Charles H. Simonton to Rev. John L. Dart, 17 June 1895, 1 page (copy)

Charleston, S.C. 17 June 1895
Rev. J. L. Dart
Charleston Industrial
Institute for Girls

Reverend and Dear Sir:

I have read with great interest the report of the Institute for [illegible]. The work in which you are [engaged?] is of great importance [illegible] and of greater importance to the community and state [illegible] are [illegible] in affording means of preparation for [illegible] life of children who but for these efforts, would be without education, exposed to temptation in every [form?] and in danger of becoming outcasts of society. You deserve encouragement in every way and permit me to say that it is not the least of your desert that your own people encouraged by your own example are putting their shoulders to the wheel and are themselves helping the good work.

I commend you to all good and benevolent people and trust that you will secure such assistance as will put your praiseworthy undertaking on a firm basis.

Yours very truly
Charles H. Simonton


II. Statement of Reverend John L. Dart, 10 May 1898.

Charleston, S. C. May 10th 1898

To day the corner stone of the Charleston Normal and Industrial is laid. The address of the occasion is delivered by Prof. Albert Barnes of Clemson College S.C. Addresses were delivered by Dr. J. L M. Curry of Washington D.C. and Others.

This Institute will be incorporated and the property will be conveyed to an Educational Association who will elect trustees annually for the management of the institution. This school will give Christian, mental and manual education.

The names of the corporators are:
Rev. J. L. Dart
M. J. George
S. L. Greene
Jos. W. Williams
James Preston
L. B. Conyers
Rev. S. S. Youngblood
M. L. Johnston
Rutledge Holmes, Architect
James Preston, Builder

J. L. Dart