To search the full text of this finding aid, type Ctrl and F on a PC. Mac users, type Command and F. A box will appear in the browser window. To search the full document, Open All must be selected first in the Detailed Description of the Collection.

Inventory of the John A. Zeigler, Jr. Collection, 1923-2012

Descriptive Summary

Abstract: Collection includes account books, photographs, clippings, correspondence, and other materials relating to life and business partners John A. Zeigler's and Edwin Peacock's popular Charleston, S.C., bookstore, The Book Basement. Also includes materials relating to Zeigler's friends Prentiss Taylor and Langston Hughes, correspondence from Carson McCullers, Zeigler's 100th birthday, and a bookbinding scrapbook which appears to have been compiled by Zeigler's friend George A. Scheirer.
Title: John A. Zeigler, Jr. collection
Creator: Zeigler, John
Date(s): 1923-2012    
Extent: 1.7 linear feet
(1 document box, 1 oversize box)
Repository: Special Collections, College of Charleston Libraries
66 George Street
Charleston, SC 29424
Phone: (843) 953-8016
Fax: (843) 953-6319
Call Number: Mss 0125
Language of Material: Materials in English

Biographical Note

John Asbury Zeigler, Jr. was born in Manning, S.C. in 1912. He attended The Citadel and founded The Shako, The Citadel's literary magazine, one year before he graduated. Zeigler enlisted in the Navy at age 30 and was stationed in Alaska, where he served as a radioman and Naval correspondent for the Glacier Gazette. He also served aboard the U.S.S. Dickens, a ship that carried soldiers to Iwo Jima.

One year after his honorable discharge, Zeigler co-founded The Book Basement bookstore in Charleston, S.C., with his partner Edwin D. Peacock, and befriended many artists and writers including Maurice Sendak, Prentiss Taylor, Henry Scheirer, and Langston Hughes in Charleston, Washington, D.C., and elsewhere. The Book Basement was located in the first floor of Zeigler's home at 9 College Street, a Zeigler/Follin family home for generations. The land was eventually aquired by the College of Charleston in 1971.

Collection Overview

The Book Basement series includes photographs (1946-1948) and clippings (1945-1949, 1980, 2000-2009), undated postcards illustrated by Prentiss Taylor, an unpublished Book Basement history written by Zeigler, and a small amount of material from former employee T.J. Worthington. Correspondence includes Maurice Sendak to Zeigler (1946, 1954), two letters from Reeves and Carson [McCullers], and a letter from George Scheirer. Also includes three account books (1946-1971) and a cumulative profit and loss report book (1962-1971) for the store, which detail daily expenditures, bills, and worker salaries.

The series for friends Prentiss Taylor and Langston Hughes includes 11 original photographs of Taylor taken by Carl Van Vechten and various photocopies of Taylor's lithographs. Hughes' writings and poetry include clippings and photocopies from The Negro Mother, an issue of The International Review of African American Art, and several photocopied pages of The Scottsboro Limited.

Materials from Zeigler's 100th birthday party include several programs for a celebration honoring Zeigler, held at College of Charleston's Simons Center for the Arts on February 5, 2012, slips for donations and birthday messages from friends, and an oversize poster for the event.

Also includes a bookbinding scrapbook (1 v. : ill. ; 38 x 34 cm.) which appears to have been compiled by George A. Scheirer.

Collection Arrangement

This collection is arranged in four series.

1.  Book Basement materials, 1946-1971, 1980, 2000-2009, undated
2.  Langston Hughes and Prentiss Taylor, 1923-1958, 1993, undated
3.  John Zeigler's 100th birthday celebration, 2012
4.  Scrapbook, circa 1923-1959

Search Terms

The following terms have been used to index this collection in the Library's online catalog. They are grouped by name of person, family, or organization, by topical subject, by place, and by types of material.


    • Zeigler, John
    • Peacock, Edwin, 1910-1989
    • Taylor, Prentiss, 1907-1991
    • Hughes, Langston, 1902-1967
    • Scheirer, George Albert, 1895-


    • Book Basement (Charleston, S.C.)
    • Bookstores--South Carolina--Charleston
    • Bookbinding


    • Charleston (S.C.)

    Types of Material

    • Account books
    • Black-and-white photographs
    • Clippings (information artifacts)
    • Color photographs
    • Correspondence
    • Postcards
    • Scrapbooks

    Related Resources

    Related Material

    Related materials in Special Collections include Prentiss Taylor Lithographs (Mss 0147) and Scottsboro limited : four poems and a play in verse / by Langston Hughes ; with illustrations by Prentiss Taylor, New York, N.Y. : Golden Stair Press, 1932, (PS3515.U274 S3 1932).

    Related materials at the Avery Research Center include Carl Van Vechten, 17 June 1880-17 June 1980 : a centenary exhibition of some of his gifts to Yale (LD6307.Y354 1980) and Remember me to Harlem : the letters of Langston Hughes and Carl Van Vechten, 1925-1964 / edited by Emily Bernard (PS3515.U274 Z598 2001).

    Separated Material

    John A. Zeigler, Jr. : a centennial celebration : February 5, 2012 was removed from the collection and cataloged separately (NX701.2.Z45 J65 2012).

    Detailed Description of the Collection

    Close All | Open All

    1. Book Basement materials, 1946-1971, 1980, 2000-2009, undated  

    Materials documenting The Book Basement, a popular Charleston bookstore opened by Zeigler and Peacock in 1946.

    Photographs, 1946-1948, undated   box 1 | folder 1

    Depict Zeigler, Peacock, Katherine Simmons, author Drayton Mayrant, and various student workers.

    Clippings, 1945-1949, 1980, 2000-2009   box 1 | folder 2

    Relate to store's opening in 1946, several book signing events, praise for the store, and a small number of related topics.

    Correspondence, 1946-1947, 1954, 2001   box 1 | folder 3

    Includes three letters from Maurice Sendak to Zeigler (1946, 1954), requesting books and thanking Zeigler for fulfilling requests, two typed transcript letters from Reeves and Carson [McCullers] about Reeve's time in the army and congratulating Peacock about the Book Basement, a typed transcript letter from George Scheirer about the Book Basement sign, and a small number of other letters regarding book requests and patrons remembering the store.

    Account book, 1946 February-1952 December   box 1 | folder 4

    Account book, 1959 January-1965 December   box 1 | folder 5

    Cumulative profit and loss report, 1962-1971   box 1 | folder 6

    Account book, 1966 June-1971 December   box 1 | folder 7

    T.J. Worthington   box 1 | folder 8

    Artist, writer, and part-time employee at the Book Basement. Includes two page manuscript "Where the Mockingbirds Sing" about his memories at College of Charleston in the 1960s and Mountain Heritage: Alleghany Style (2005) about Alleghany County, North Carolina's customs.

    Book Basement postcards, undated   box 1 | folder 9

    Artwork by Prentiss Taylor and others.

    Book Basement history by John Zeigler, undated photocopy   box 1 | folder 10

    4 pages. Mentions Maurice Sendak and Carson and Reeves McCullers.

    Zeigler genealogy and land materials, undated   box 1 | folder 11

    Typescript translation of brief history and wills for the Follin family, Zeigler's ancestors. Includes information about 9 College Street (later known as College Way), eventually the site for The Book Basement.

    2. Langston Hughes and Prentiss Taylor, 1923-1958, 1993, undated  

    Series includes 11 original photographs of Taylor taken by Carl Van Vechten, and various photocopies of Taylor's lithographs including "Christ in Alabama," "Eight Black Boys," and "Scottsboro Limited." Hughes' writings and poetry include clippings and photocopies from The Negro Mother, an issue of The International Review of African American Art, several photocopied pages of The Scottsboro Limited, and several photocopies of book cover pages with inscriptions from Hughes to Taylor. Correspondence is mostly between Hughes and Taylor, with three letters between James Gannon and Roderick Quiroz regarding the purchase of some valuable Hughes books. Includes original artwork by Langston Hughes.

    Photographs, 1923, 1948, undated   box 1 | folder 12

    Includes one photograph of Hughes, photographer unknown.

    Poetry, 1931, undated   box 1 | folder 13

    Includes typescript poem by African American poet Waring Cuney.

    Writings and art, 1931, 1950   box 1 | folder 14

    Also includes a handwritten price estimate for some valuable Hughes materials, presumably compiled by Zeigler.

    Correspondence, 1953, 1993, undated   box 1 | folder 15

    Southern Cultures, 2000   box 1 | folder 16

    Includes chapter about Hughes' and Taylor's booklet Scottsboro Limited, 1932.

    3. John Zeigler's 100th birthday celebration, 2012  

    Programs and birthday wishes   box 1 | folder 17

    Happy Birthday, John A. Zeigler, Jr., 100 years poster   box 2

    4. Scrapbook, circa 1923-1959  

    (Box 2 | Oversize)

    Scrapbook (1 v. : ill. ; 38 x 34 cm.) appears to have been compiled by George A. Scheirer. Upon his death in 1959, Scheirer left his collection of books to Zeigler. This scrapbook contains clippings, postcards, and photographs on bookbindings from the 4th to the 20th centuries. Articles are included on miniature books, bookbinding, printed books, Gutenberg's Bible, portable Bibles, and illuminated Psalters. Also included are: two U.S. Department of Agriculture publications on leather shoes (1924 and 1927); two U.S. Department of Commerce publications on upholstery leather (1927); a leather tanning bibliography (1923); photographs of bookbinding exhibitions; two letters to George A. Scheirer (a letter from G.F.J. Cumberlege dated December 22, 1931 discussing Douglas Cockerell and another letter from Laura S. Young, president of the Guild of Bookworkers, dated April 29, 1958 discussing edge gilding); a reprint of Scheirer's article "Some notes on hand bookbinding-forwarding," which appeared in the December 1944 issue of Occupational therapy and rehabilitation; a woodcut of the Rabbit Hutch bindery.

    Administrative Information

    Access Restrictions

    This collection is open for research.

    Copyright Notice

    The nature of the College of Charleston's archival holdings means that copyright or other information about restrictions may be difficult or even impossible to determine despite reasonable efforts. Special Collections claims only physical ownership of most archival materials.

    The materials from our collections are made available for use in research, teaching, and private study, pursuant to U.S. copyright law. The user must assume full responsibility for any use of the materials, including but not limited to, infringement of copyright and publication rights of reproduced materials. Any materials used for academic research or otherwise should be fully credited with the source.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], John A. Zeigler, Jr. collection, College of Charleston Libraries, Charleston, SC, USA.

    Acquisitions Information

    Book Basement, birthday, and Prentiss Taylor and Langston Hughes material donated by John A. Zeigler Jr., April 2008.

    Scrapbook donated by Juliette Wiles Staats (1906-1992).

    Processing Information

    Originally processed by Special Collections staff, date unknown.

    Reprocessed by Cara McHugh, April 2013.

    Encoded by Cara McHugh, April 2013.

    Reviewed, edited, and uploaded by Martha McTear, July 2013.

    Table of Contents