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South Carolina Rare Books Collection: Alexander S. Salley

Detail of Regulus Cristatus from Mark Catesby's The Natural History of Carolina, Florida, and the Bahama Islands.

History of Alexander S. Salley

Many titles in the Rare Book Collection came from the personal library of Alexander Samuel Salley (1871-1961), South Carolina’s first archivist. 

Mr. Salley was born June 16, 1871 in Orangeburg, South Carolina.  A graduate of The Citadel (1892), Salley's interest in history and South Carolina played a major role in the career path he would take. Throughout his long career, Mr. Salley authored a variety of articles, indexes, and volumes on a range of South Carolina's history.

In 1905, the legislature made the Historical Commission of the State of South Carolina (now South Carolina Department of Archives and History) responsible for the state's archives and authorized it to hire a full-time secretary to take custody of the non-current government records that were dispersed throughout the State House. Alexander S. Salley was instrumental, through advocacy, in the reorganization of the Historical Commission, and began 44 years of service as the Commission’s secretary in 1905. 

Salley's collection features titles across many subjects and interests, with an emphasis on South Carolina's history, between the late 19th century through the mid-20th century. Salley signed his name in all his books, and many feature handwritten commentary and notes.


Further Reading

Image (top): Detail of  Regulus Cristatus from The Natural History of Carolina, Florida and the Bahama Islands, by Mark Catesby.

SC State Library Information


Many South Carolina State Library programs, resources and services are supported in whole or in part by a grant from the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services.

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