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Inventory of the Benjamin Berendt and Anna Gelson Berendt Papers, 1866-2010

Descriptive Summary

Abstract: Writings, newspaper clippings, poetry, plays, publications, correspondence, photographs, and other personal papers of Benjamin Berendt and Anna Gelson Berendt of Charleston, South Carolina. Materials mostly relate to the Berendt and Gelson family histories as well as Benjamin's and Anna's travels. Also included are Aleph Zadik Aleph Chapter 143 publications from the 1950s and 1960s.
Title: Benjamin Berendt and Anna Gelson Berendt papers
Creator: Berendt, Benjamin, 1912-2010;
Berendt, Anna Gelson, 1913-2001
Date(s): 1866-2010    
Extent: 3.40 linear feet
(2 document boxes, 1 slim document box, 1 flat box, 1 oversize folder)
Repository: Jewish Heritage Collection, Special Collections, College of Charleston Libraries
66 George Street
Charleston, SC 29424
Phone: (843) 953-8016
Fax: (843) 953-6319
Call Number: Mss 1089
Language of Material: Materials in English

Biographical Note

Benjamin Berendt (1912-2010) was born in Charleston, South Carolina, to Isaac and Mary Berendt, who immigrated to New York in 1871 from Konin, Poland.

Benjamin Berendt attended Charleston High School, was an active member of AZA (Aleph Zadik Aleph) Chapter 143, and studied history at the College of Charleston, where he graduated in 1935. Berendt became a partner of Berendt Brothers, Inc. and traveled throughout the Carolinas and Georgia selling wholesale shoes, handbags, and other leather goods.

Anna Gelson (1913-2001) was born in Poughkeepsie, New York, to Louis and Zelda Gelson. The family moved to Charleston, South Carolina, and spent a brief period on Yonges Island following Louis Gelson's death. They eventually returned to Charleston and opened a grocery store at 572 Meeting Street.

Gelson and Berendt were married in 1940. Following the attack on Pearl Harbor, Benjamin Berendt enlisted in the U.S. Navy and served as a shore patrol officer in the South Pacific. Anna Berendt worked as a civilian employee at the North Charleston naval base, where she handled purchase requisitions for naval supplies. After the war, Benjamin Berendt continued his work as a salesman. The Berendts were members of Charleston's Brith Sholom Beth Israel, and Anna was active in the Charleston chapter of Hadassah and the National Council of Jewish Women. She also served as an advisor for B'nai B'rith Girls (sister organization to AZA) and was an avid writer.

Collection Overview

Writings, newspaper clippings, poetry, plays, publications, correspondence, photographs, and other personal papers of Benjamin Berendt and Anna Gelson Berendt of Charleston, South Carolina. Most of the writings, poetry, and plays were composed by Anna Gelson Berendt and include narrative histories of her ancestors in Russia and their immigration to the United States. Also included are materials relating to the Berendt family history and Benjamin's and Anna's travels as well as AZA Chapter 143 newsletters.

Collection Arrangement

Materials are described at the folder level.

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.


    • Berendt, Anna Gelson, 1913-2001
    • Berendt, Benjamin, 1912-2010
    • Berendt family
    • Gelson family
    • Aleph Zadik Aleph


    • Jews--South Carolina--Charleston--History


    • Charleston (S.C.)

    Types of Material

    • Clippings (information artifacts)
    • Correspondence
    • Color photographs
    • Black-and-white photographs
    • Plays (document genre)
    • Poetry
    • Publications
    • Writings (document genre)

    Related Resources

    Related Material

    Related materials in Special Collections include a 1996 oral history interview with Benjamin Berendt (Mss 1035-076).


    Benjamin Berendt, 1866-2010, undated

    Family history, 1866-1999, undated   box 1 | folder 1

    Includes genealogical material, family trees, bow tie charts, and a brief biography of Benjamin Berendt written by his son, Gerald Berendt.

    Berendt family tree, undated   Oversize Paper Folder 1
    (Flat storage)

    Yahrzeit calendar, undated   Oversize Paper Folder 1
    (Flat storage)

    Memorial calendar for Isaac Berendt (d. 1866)

    Yearbook pages, 1931-1935   box 1 | folder 2

    Includes photocopied pages from Berendt's high school yearbook The Argus and his college yearbook The Comet. Original copies of the yearbooks can be found in Special Collections.

    Military service, 1944, undated   box 1 | folder 3

    Includes a small mezuzah and a prayer book from the Jewish Welfare Board.

    Travel schedules, undated   box 1 | folder 4

    Travel schedules listing daily appointments and addresses of shoe stores, department stores, and handbag customers in South Carolina and Georgia.

    Miniature Haftaroh, undated   box 1 | folder 5-6

    Miscellaneous, 2010, undated   box 1 | folder 7

    Includes a newspaper clipping describing the collapse of a wall at the Berendts' leather goods store on Meeting Street and a photocopy of Benjamin Berendt's obituary.

    Anna Gelson Berendt, 1908-2001, undated

    Family history, 1910, 1992, undated   box 1 | folder 8

    Includes biographical writings, family trees and census documents.

    Passenger manifest from Ellis Island, 1908   Oversize Paper Folder 1
    (Flat storage)

    Photocopy of passenger manifest listing her parents, Louis and Zelda Gelson.

    Newspaper clippings, 1980-1985, undated   box 1 | folder 9

    Includes newspaper clippings regarding the Rosen family and Leon Gelson.

    Education, 1975-1986, undated   box 1 | folder 10

    Includes school essays and papers, handwritten notes, and tests.

    Writings, 1974-1991, undated

    A Family Story, 1974   box 1 | folder 11

    Unpublished manuscript recounting the lives of the Gelson and Rosen families in Russia and America as well as Anna's life as a young girl growing up on Yonges Island, South Carolina, and in Charleston, South Carolina.

    A Family Story rough drafts, 1974, undated   box 2 | folder 1

    Poetry, 1981, undated   box 2 | folder 2

    Includes a 1981 issue of the College of Charleston's literary and art journal Miscellany.

    Plays, undated   box 2 | folder 3

    Includes the plays Ellen and Eddie, 572 Meeting Street, and stage diagrams.

    Travel writings, 1975, undated   box 2 | folder 4

    Diary, 1991   box 2 | folder 5

    Others' writings, 1988, undated   box 2 | folder 6

    Includes writings by members of a writing workshop in which Berendt participated.

    Miscellaneous writings, 1991, undated   box 2 | folder 7

    Miscellaneous, 1948-2001, undated   box 2 | folder 8

    Includes newspaper clippings, correspondence, a Brith Sholom Congregation seating card, a Blue Book of telephone numbers, a silhouette portrait of Anna by Frances Bennett, and Anna's obituary.

    Correspondence, 1940-1991, undated

    Bar and bat mitzvah invitations, 1981-1989, undated   box 2 | folder 9

    Wedding invitations, 1975-1987, undated   box 2 | folder 10

    General correspondence, 1940-1991, undated   box 2 | folder 11

    Includes postcards, letters from family members, birth announcements, invitations, and thank you notes.

    New England group tour, 1979   box 3 | folder 1

    Pamphlets, postcards, and travel writings from the Berendt's trip to New England.

    Photographs, circa early 1900s -2004

    Benjamin Berendt and Berendt family, circa early 1900s-2004   box 3 | folder 2

    Anna Gelson Berendt and Gelson family, circa early 1900s-1980s   box 3 | folder 3

    Isaac Berendt, undated   Oversize Paper Folder 1
    (Flat storage)

    Tau Epsilon Phi members, 1934   Oversize Paper Folder 1
    (Flat storage)

    Original paste up for TEP page in the 1934 volume of the College of Charleston yearbook The Comet. Includes a photograph of Benjamin Berendt.

    Miscellaneous, circa early 1900s-2000s   box 3 | folder 4

    Louis Gelson, circa 1917   box 4

    Anna and Leon Gelson, circa 1917   box 4

    Gerald Berendt, 1970-1978, undated   box 3 | folder 5

    Includes newspaper clippings, handwritten notes, and other papers of Gerald Berendt, son of Benjamin and Anna Berendt. Materials relate to Gerald Berendt's position as assistant professor at the John Marshall Law School in Chicago, Illinois. Contains photocopies and original documents.

    AZA Chapter 143 publications, 1956-1966, undated   box 3 | folder 6

    Includes eight issues of Chaza, the AZA (Aleph Zadik Aleph) Chapter 143 newsletter, as well as two other AZA newsletters: Five Folder and Jewish Star and Harold Koslow Pledge Class. Benjamin Berendt served as vice president and later as president of AZA Chapter 143 in the late 1920s and early 1930s. Gerald Berendt served as editor, advisor, and president in the mid-1960s.

    Miscellaneous, 1940, 1971-1983, undated   box 3 | folder 7

    Includes newspaper clippings and printed material, such as a Barton's Kosher Confectioners pamphlet and a 1971 Manischewitz eight-day menu planner and recipe guide for Passover. Workbook for Children's History of Israel, Part 1 by Sulamith Ish-Kishor is also included.

    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], Benjamin Berendt and Anna Gelson Berendt papers, College of Charleston Libraries, Charleston, SC, USA.

    Acquisitions Information

    Materials were donated in 2011 by Gerald E. Berendt.

    Processing Information

    Processed by Joshua Minor and Sarah M. Dorpinghaus, April 2011.

    Encoded by Joshua Minor, March 2012.

    Reviewed, edited, and uploaded by Martha McTear, June 2012.

    Funding from the Council on Library and Information Resources supported the processing of this collection and encoding of the finding aid.

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