What role did antebellum college libraries play in the development of the South? National studies rarely mention southern institutions, while institutional histories neglect the role of the library. Yet the history of southern antebellum college libraries should be of special interest because this was often their initial formative period. There were few college libraries in the South prior to 1800 but many were founded in the following decades. It was in the last decades before the Civil War that the South first became really aware of the need for widespread education. At the same time, southern colleges were in many ways different from their northern counterparts and therefore deserving of separate study. This history of college libraries in the South will set a context for institutional histories while supplementing national studies by illustrating “many of the conditions … peculiar to that region.” This paper is not meant to be exhaustive or encyclopedic but merely suggestive.

Publication Date

Spring 2006