The Charleston Archive at the Charleston County Public Library houses a number of photographs, prints, and other images relating to Charleston. NOTE: Access to these images is by appointment only.

These materials can be grouped into the following categories:

Photographs from the City of Charleston 

A collection of several hundred images representing a variety of city officials, public buildings and grounds, and civic events from the 1930s to the 1980s.

Photographic Record of the Cooper River Bridge 

A collection of approximately 600 images of the construction of the first Cooper River Bridge in Charleston, 1928-1929. View these images at the Lowcountry Digital Library.

Charles N. Bayless Photographs

A collection of approximately 1,750 images of buildings in downtown Charleston, taken between 1979 and 1988 as part of a photographic project funded by the National Endowment for the Arts. View these images at the Lowcountry Digital Library.

Photos from the Records of the Historic Preservation Planner, BCD-COG 

A collection of 985 images of historic buildings and sites, taken between 1970 and 1981 as part of the application process for the National Register of Historic Place. View these images at the Lowcountry Digital Library.

Jack Keilen Slide Collection

John J. (“Jack”) Keilen (d. 1999) was a native of Pittsburgh and received a Ph.D. in chemical engineering from Carnegie Mellon University. He came to Charleston during the mid-1940s, working first for West Virginia Pulp and Paper Company and later Charleston Rubber Company. An avid amateur photographer throughout his life, Mr. Keilen took several thousand of photographs during his annual vacations around the world. The present collection consists of nearly 600 color slides taken around Charleston and the Carolinas between 1944 and 1990. View these images at the Lowcountry Digital Library.

Photographic Passbook from the South Carolina Interstate and West Indian Exposition

A collection of approximately 1,250 small photographic portraits of person who purchased season passes to the South Carolina Interstate and West Indian Exposition that was held in Charleston in 1901-1902. View these images at the Lowcountry Digitial Library.

Clippings from Nineteenth-Century Illustrated Newspapers 

Approximately one hundred printed illustrations taken from mid- to late-nineteenth-century publications such as Harper’s Weekly Magazine, Harper’s Monthly Magazine, and Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper.

Images from the Records of the Charleston County Public Library

This collection consists of photographs and slides from the institutional records of the Charleston County Public Library. These images span the first four decades of the history of the institution, from its founding in 1931 as the Charleston Free Library, through 1969. The collection contains images from various library branches and service points, including the Main Library and Dart Hall Branch Library in downtown Charleston, the Bookmobile, Mt. Pleasant (Village Branch), Cooper River Memorial Library, and other locations throughout the county. Several images also include notable library staff members, such as Emily C. Sanders, Susan Dart Butler, Mae Holloway Purcell, and Janie M. Smith, as well as prominent community members, such as Mary V. McBee and John Bennett. Many of the black and white images are the work of local photographer Louis Schwartz. The 35mm color slides were taken in 1943 by Dorothy Dingley, a photographer in United States Navy who was stationed in Charleston during World War II. View these images on the Lowcountry Digital Library.

Bettie La Barbe Postcard Collection

Originally a native of Raleigh, North Carolina, Bettie La Barbe spent several years (approximately 1904 – 1923) in Charleston as a teacher and the directress of Kelly’s Kindergarten at Saint Andrews Episcopal Church (located at King and Poinsette Streets). She retired to Asheville, North Carolina and remained an active member in her community until her death in 1955. The collection consists of just over three hundred Victoriana-era postcards collected by Miss La Barbe between the years 1903 – 1935. The collection’s provenance in the Charleston Archive at CCPL is unknown, but it is believed that it was originally donated to the Charleston Free Library. The cards feature a wide variety of subjects including people, animals, and holidays. While the vast majority of the images are not specifically related to Lowcountry or South Carolina, they represent a broad range of Victorian commercial art. View these images on the Lowcountry Digital Library.

George W. Williams Photograph Collection

This collection consists of 95 photographs and negatives taken around the Charleston area. The images depict early 20th century rooftop views of the city, parks, Charleston Fire Department firefighters and their equipment, Charleston Harbor, the construction of Dry Dock One at the Navy Yard, and a late 20th century reconstruction of Fort Sullivan that was located at Fort Moultrie on Sullivan’s Island. George Walton Williams, a Charleston native, English professor, and writer, donated the collection. The creator or creators of this collection are unknown. View these images on the Lowcountry Digital Library