Monday, March 18, 2013

Women's History and Conservation: Harriot Horry Ravenel

Recently, the Library Society gained ownership of a Charles Van Dyke portrait of Harriott Horry (Rutledge) Ravenel that was previously housed at the Gibbes Museum.  Finished in 1912, this painting needs your help to be fully restored!

Harriott Horry Rutledge was a talented Charleston novelist, biographer, and historian. With a sterling pedigree, she was born in 1832 to Edward Cotesworth Rutledge (1798-1860) and Rebecca Motte Lowndes (1810-1893).  Perhaps even more renowned, her maternal great-great grandparents were Eliza Lucas Pinkney (1722-1793) and Charles Pinckney (ca.1699-1738).  In 1851, she married Dr. St. Julien Ravenel, a prominent Charleston physician. In addition to her busy life as a wife and mother, Mrs. Ravenel pursued her love of literature.  She wrote a biography about her great-great grandmother, Women of Colonial and Revolutionary Times: Eliza Pinkney in 1896, followed by a novelette focused on southern history and manners called “The Days That Are Not.”  She also wrote numerous memoirs, poetry, and essays, finishing her writing career with a final piece, Charleston: The Place and the People, six years before her death in 1912.

The proposed cost of conservation for the portrait has been estimated to be $7,000 and board member Susan Friberg has generously offered a challenge gift of $3,500 if it is matched by others who would like to see the first portrait of a prominent female figure in the literary arts adorn our walls.

Help ensure this historic figure is restored by taking part in the conservation challenge!

Jessica Short
Cataloging Librarian
Charleston Library Society

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

A Supreme Court Justice and The Fundamental Constitution of Carolina

John Locke's The Fundamental Constitutions of Carolina was a document designed to provide a governing structure for the Carolina colonies written while he was Secretary to the Lords Proprietor of Carolina.  Although there are remnants of England's feudal structure represented in The Fundamental Constitutions of Carolina, his progressive ideals for government liberally gave men more rights (both civil and political) as well as more property than England had previously allowed. 

During a visit to Charleston several years ago, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor expressed a desire to have a reproduction to read.  Her interest motivated the Library Society to investigate creating a facsimile, to which she agreed to write a foreword.

The Library Society received its original copy in 1833 from Robert Gilmor, Jr., a prominent Baltimore banker, merchant, and investor who was also a leading collector of art, books, and autographs. Gilmor was a Harvard graduate who traveled to Charleston in the winter of 1807. He met and married Sarah Ladson, daughter of Major James Ladson of Charleston, in April of 1807. 

In 1833 when the Library Society established an historical committee with the mission "to collect documents which would illustrate the history either of South Carolina or the United States," Robert Gilmor gave his "precious autograph of the profound Locke," to that collection. Now, 342 years after its creation and thanks to Justice O'Connor, the Library Society  has a number of limited reproductions of Locke's remarkable document available for purchase for $35.00.

Be sure to request your copy before these limited editions are gone!