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Inventory of the Pearlstine Distributors Inc. Records, 1899-2012

Descriptive Summary

Abstract: Business records, correspondence, photographs, printed materials, and artifacts relating to the history and operation of Pearlstine Distributors Inc. (est. 1972), a Charleston-based distributor of Anheuser-Busch products, and its parent company, I. M. Pearlstine & Sons, founded by Isaac Moses Pearlstine in 1885.
Title: Pearlstine Distributors Inc. records
Creator: Pearlstine Distributors Inc.
Date(s): 1899-2012    
Extent: 2.75 linear feet linear feet
(1 document box, 5 flat boxes, 3 artifact boxes, 2 oversized items, 2 oversize folders)
Repository: Special Collections, College of Charleston Libraries
66 George Street
Charleston, SC 29424
Phone: (843) 953-8016
Fax: (843) 953-6319
Call Number: Mss 1114
Language of Material: Materials in English

Biographical and Historical Note

Pearlstine Distributors Inc., a distributor of Anheuser-Busch beers, was a family-owned Charleston-based company incorporated in 1972. The original Pearlstine business in South Carolina was founded by Isaac Moses Pearlstine (1844-1911) and his father, Tanchum "Thomas" Pearlstine (1817-1877), who emigrated from Russia to the United States in the mid-1850s. They opened their first general store in Colleton County, South Carolina, in 1865. I. M. went on to establish several businesses in Charleston in the 1880s, including a grocery and grain business called I. M. Pearlstine & Sons which opened in 1885. The company sold groceries, grain, wagons, surreys, tack, hardware, roofing, and wire fencing. When I. M. Pearlstine died in 1911, his sons Shep and Hyman assumed leadership of the company and began operating a network of wholesale and retail stores throughout South Carolina, with locations in Walterboro, Eutawville, Mount Holly, Hampton, Kingstree, Sumter, and Florence.

I. M. Pearlstine & Sons acquired the Farline Supply Company in 1918, and began a long-lasting affiliation with Anheuser-Busch. After the death of Hyman Pearlstine, control of the business went to a cousin, Sam Cohen, and Hyman's two sons, Milton and Edwin. In 1950, after the retirement of Sam Cohen, the Pearlstines liquidated the wholesale grocery and hardware business and focused on distribution, gradually closing or selling their satellite stores. In 1971 Milton's nephew, Edwin Pearlstine Jr., purchased the beverage division and Pearlstine Distributors was incorporated. I. M. Pearlstine & Sons became a real estate and investment management firm and finally the name of a holding company managed by Milton Pearlstine and his heirs. In order to concentrate entirely on beer distribution, Pearlstine Distributors sold their wine business in 1995. After over 100 years of operation by members of the Pearlstine family, the company was acquired by Southern Eagle in 2012.

Collection Overview

The collection contains records and artifacts documenting the history of Pearlstine Distributors and its parent company, I. M. Pearlstine & Sons. These documents and objects were originally on display in the Pearlstine Distributors' North Charleston headquarters. The collection contains business records, mainly from the 20th century, including legal and financial records, business correspondence, and a ledger. It also contains a small number of photographs and printed materials, such as catalogs, business cards, clippings, and ephemera, as well as items relating to the family's community involvement and charity. The artifacts include materials created or used for the exhibit at the company's headquarters, such as replicas of a Confederate States of America hat and belt (goods sold by I. M. Pearlstine to soldiers during the Civil War), bottles, collectible Budweiser trucks, Budweiser lederhosen, and commemorative hats and t-shirts celebrating company milestones.

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.


    • Pearlstine, Isaac M.
    • I. M. Pearlstine & Sons
    • Pearlstine Distributors Inc.


    • Jewish businesspeople
    • Jewish merchants--South Carolina--Charleston-History
    • Family-owned business enterprises


    • Charleston (S.C.)

    Types of Material

    • Artifacts (object genre)
    • Exhibit scripts
    • Financial records
    • Photographs
    • Correspondence
    • Certificates
    • Clippings (information artifacts)
    • Collectibles

    Related Resources

    Related Material

    Related materials in Special Collections include the Pearlstine-Strauss family papers (Mss 1062), the Pearlstine family papers: real estate and financial documents (Mss 1027), the Milton A. Pearlstine and Cecile M. Pearlstine papers (Mss 1104), and the Rittenberg-Pearlstine family papers (Mss 1008). Related materials also include an oral history interview with Edwin Strauss Pearlstine Jr. and Jane Pearlstine Meyerson (Mss 1035-357), an oral history interview with Hanna Pearlstine (Mss 1035-088), an oral history interview with Henry Rittenberg (Mss 1035-104), and an oral history interview with Sura Wolff Wengrow (Mss 1035-212).


    Business records, 1899-1924, undated

    Legal and financial documents, 1899-circa 1914   box 1 | folder 1

    Invoice from Mordecai & Gadsden law offices, incorporation documents of the Farline Supply Company, and customer receipt.

    Correspondence, 1902-1924   box 1 | folder 2

    Letters to customers and suppliers regarding orders and pricing.

    Ledger book, 1914   Oversize Volume

    Contains receipts printed on billhead for goods purchased from suppliers by I.M. Pearlstine & Sons pasted in chronological order. Examples include invoices from the Maryland Biscuit Company, the Alabama-Georgia Syrup Company, the Franklin Sugar Refining Company, and the Baltimore Canning Company, among many others.

    Photographs, 1924-1983, undated

    Portraits and informal images of Pearlstine family members, business locations, staff, and daily operations.

    Pearlstine family, 1924-1973, undated   box 1 | folder 3

    Images feature Jeanette Pearlstine and Edwin Pearlstine Jr., Jan Pearlstine Lipov, Edwin Pearlstine Sr., Sam Cohen, Susan Pearlstine, and Milton Pearlstine.

    Business Operations and Staff, circa 1960, undated   box 1 | folder 4

    Images feature distribution centers and vehicles, staff group photos, and employees touring the Anheuser-Busch brewery in Tampa Bay Florida circa 1960.

    Printed material, 1911-1999, undated

    I. M. Pearlstine & Sons catalogs, 1911   box 1 | folder 5

    Contains images of multiple stores, customer testimonials, and prices for a large variety of goods, such as wagons, roofing, collars and bridges, crockery, and groceries.

    I. M. Pearlstine & Sons flour bag, undated   Oversize Paper Folder 1

    Printed on bag: Golden-Rod self-rising flour packed for I.M Pearlstine & Sons distributor, Charleston, S.C.

    Business cards, undated   box 1 | folder 6

    For Hyman Pearlstine and Edwin S. Pearlstine Jr.

    Ephemera, 1925-1926, 1999, undated   box 1 | folder 7

    Time sheets, envelopes, and a retirement celebration program.

    Clippings, 1955, 1980, undated   box 1 | folder 8

    On the 75th anniversary of I. M. Pearlstine & Sons, the appointment of Edwin Pearlstine Jr. to the South Carolina Aeronautics Commissions, and an obituary for Hyman Pearlstine.

    Philanthropy and Community Involvement, 1982-2012, undated   box 1 | folder 9

    Letters, thank you notes, clippings, certificates of appreciation, photographs, and newsletters documenting donations, sponsorship, and community involvement by Pearlstine Distributors and the Pearlstine family.

    125th anniversary materials, 1990   box 1 | folder 10

    Letters from the City of Charleston Police Department, Anheuser-Busch Inc., the College of Charleston, and the South Carolina Comptroller General, and an invitation to the Pearlstines' 125th anniversary celebration.

    Display Materials, 1910, circa 2000, undated

    Objects on display at the North Charleston company headquarters exhibit representing Pearlstine Distributors' history, daily operations, milestones, and community involvement. Also includes mounted photographs and supplementary texts created specifically for the exhibit.

    Exhibit photograph reproductions, undated   box 1 | folder 11-15

    Includes portraits, business locations, distribution vehicles, employees at work, participation in local events, and beer displays in various local stores.

    Oversize exhibit materials, undated   Oversize Paper Folder 2

    Posters and articles regarding community involvement, a mounted Anheuser-Busch advertisement reproduction, and images of I. M. Pearlstine & Sons stores.

    Timelines, undated   Oversize Image

    Five mounted timelines spanning the 1850s through 2003.

    Bottles, undated   box 2

    A selection of bottles distributed by Pearlstine Distributors.

    Textiles, circa 2000, undated   box 3-4

    Includes a replica Confederate States of America hat and belt, two commemorative t-shirts, a commemorative hat, and Budweiser lederhosen originally worn by Susan Pearlstine.

    Collectible trucks, undated   box 5-7

    Models of Budweiser supply trucks.

    Shadowbox display, 1910, undated   box 8

    Glass display case containing several letters, company stationary, and a Pearlstine Distributors Inc. keychain.

    Other, 1971, undated   box 9

    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], Pearlstine Distributors Inc. records, College of Charleston Libraries, Charleston, SC, USA.

    Acquisitions Information

    Materials were donated in 2012 by Susan Pearlstine.

    Processing Information

    Processed by Amy Lazarus, March 2015.

    Encoded by Amy Lazarus, April 2015.

    Reviewed and uploaded by Joshua Minor, April 2015.

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