From the 1910 Bonhomie
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The mission of Special Collections and Archives is to acquire, organize, make available, and preserve a variety of primary and secondary research materials documenting the history and people of Furman University, Greenville Woman's College, Greenville, the South Carolina Upstate, South Carolina Baptists, and twenty and twenty-first century poets in this state.
In 1826, the South Carolina Baptist Convention articulated the need for a library for the Furman Academy and Theological Institution; several years later, they recommended the creation of an archives for essential Furman Academy records and notable documents of the Baptist denomination. Although the concept of a Special Collections and Archives department surfaced very early in the university’s history and there were efforts to collect and preserve, it was many years before the collection had an identity and even more years before it had official personnel and suitable accommodations. In 1890, Harvey Tolliver Cook, Professor of Classics, designated this collection the Baptist Historical Collection. Loulie Latimer Owens served as Furman’s first Special Collections Librarian when Furman moved to its new campus in the late 1950s.
Special Collections and Archives contains six distinct sections: Furman University Archives, Manuscript Collections, South Carolina Baptist Historical Collection, South Carolina Poetry Archives, Special Collections for Music, and Book Collections (Baptist, Furman, and Special Collections).
These materials are maintained separately from the general library collections due to their uniqueness, fragility, significance and format. With the exception of the book collections, these materials are organized, maintained and accessed differently from other library materials.
Materials are housed in the Fred W. Symmes Archives which is not open for public browsing. Materials must be retrieved by a staff member and must be used in the William Gilmore Simms Research Room. All cataloged holdings of the Archives may be identified through the Library's online catalog, accessible through computers located in the Research Room and throughout the Library.
Materials to peruse in the Research Room include the South Carolina Baptist Convention Minutes, the Furman University yearbooks and the Furman Alumni magazine, Greenville Woman’s College yearbooks, books from the South Carolina Poetry Archives, books from the Travel Literature Collection, and books by and about William Gilmore Simms. The Simms Research Room also features one range of shelves highlighting a book collection or collector, and the display changes twice a year.