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Inventory of the Harby family Papers, 1810-1917

Descriptive Summary

Abstract: Collection consists of materials relating to Isaac Harby, newspaper editor and publisher, teacher, playwright, drama critic, essayist, political and social commentator, and religious reformer, and Aline Harby, Isaac's great granddaughter. Materials include a copybook containing transcriptions of Isaac Harby's early essays, written between 1802 and 1812, a poetry clipping album from the late 19th century, and a bride's book.
Title: Harby family papers
Creator: Harby family
Date(s): 1810-1917    
Extent: 0.75 linear feet
(1 flat box and 1 document 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 1116
Language of Material: Materials in English

Biographical and Historical Note

Isaac Harby (1788-1828) was born to Solomon and Rebecca Moses Harby in Charleston, South Carolina. As a child, Harby studied at the academy of Reverend William Best, and in 1804 he joined the Philomathean Society, a group dedicated to scholarly debate and discussion, becoming president of the group in 1807. As a young man, Harby apprenticed briefly in a law office, published a short-lived literary journal called the Quiver, and established an academy on Edisto Island to support his mother and siblings after his father's death in 1805. Soon after his marriage to Rachael Mordecai in 1810, Harby moved back to Charleston and opened a school called Harby's Academy. He was drawn back to publishing and editing, however, and in 1814 acquired the Charleston Investigator, which he renamed the Southern Patriot. He later served as the editor of the City Gazette and the Mercury. Harby was also a prolific writer who authored political commentary under several pseudonyms, wrote three plays, and was well known for his dramatic criticism.

Though he did not have a religious upbringing, Harby became more involved in Judaism as an adult. Troubled by efforts to convert Jews to Christianity, he and several other men petitioned the trustees of Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim (KKBE) to implement liturgical reforms. When KKBE refused to consider the petition, the group broke from the congregation and founded the Reformed Society of Israelites in 1825. By 1827, however, the group faltered, and in 1828, a year after his wife's death, Harby left Charleston for New York. There he enjoyed almost immediate success as an art critic for the Mirror and a dramatic critic for the Evening Post, but less than a year later fell ill with typhoid fever and died on December 14, 1828, just weeks after his 40th birthday.

Isaac Harby had six children with his wife Rachael. Their youngest child, Octavia, married Andrew Jackson Moses, with whom she had seventeen children. Her son Henry J. Harby married Adeline Emanuel, and the couple had three children, Alice, Hal, and Aline. Aline Harby married Robert Leland Moore in 1917.

Collection Overview

The most notable item in the collection, Isaac Harby's copybook, contains 23 transcribed essays originally written between 1802 and 1812, when Harby was between the ages of 14 and 24. They were copied into the book by various individuals, including some of his students as well as Harby himself, between 1810 and 1812. The majority of works are either essays written for the Philomathean Society or political essays and letters to the editors submitted to Charleston newspapers. Of note are Harby's first attempts at political commentary under the pseudonyms Aticus and Lucian, published in the Charleston Courier and the City Gazette and Commercial Daily Advertiser. Other works include one piece of dramatic criticism, several essays on political subjects, and a small number reflecting on the writings of classical authors or contemporary events. Likely a portion of the essays were never published.

The collection also includes an album containing clippings of poetry dating to the latter half of the 19th century, and a bride's book belonging to Aline Harby to record her marriage to Robert Leland Moore in 1917. The bride book contains information regarding the bride, groom, and wedding, which took place in Sumter, South Carolina, on November 1, 1917, as well as lists of bridal party members, guests, and engagement and wedding gifts, and descriptions of the gowns worn for the wedding, reception, and morning after the ceremony. Also includes congratulatory telegrams and wedding anniversary cards.

Collection Arrangement

Collection 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.


    • Harby, Isaac, 1788-1828
    • Moore, Aline Harby, 1897-1982


    • Jews--South Carolina--Charleston
    • Jews--South Carolin--Intellectual life
    • Jewish authors--United States
    • Jews--South Carolina--Social life and customs
    • Weddings--South Carolina--Sumter


    • Sumter (S.C.)--Social life and customs

    Types of Material

    • Essays
    • Copybooks (instructional material)
    • Bridal books
    • Clippings (information artifacts)
    • Poetry

    Related Resources

    Related Material

    Related materials in Special Collections include the Lee Cohen Harby papers (Mss 1019), the Isaac Harby Cashbook (Mss 1117), and the Octavia Harby Moses autograph album (Mss 1115).

    Separated Material

    Published items removed and cataloged separately.


    Isaac Harby copybook, 1810-1812   box 1
    (Restricted vault)

    The majority of essays focus on the politics of the early 1800s, but a smaller number address antiquity, history, religion, and dramatic criticism. Also includes several obituaries.

    Poetry clipping album, c. 1870   box 2 | folder 1

    Aline Harby bride's book, 1917   box 2 | folder 2

    Contains information regarding the bride, groom, and wedding, which took place in Sumter, South Carolina, on November 1, 1917.

    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], Harby family papers, College of Charleston Libraries, Charleston, SC, USA.

    Acquisitions Information

    Materials were donated in 2009 by Alice Moore Harrelson.

    Processing Information

    Processed by Amy Lazarus, April 2015.

    Encoded by Amy Lazarus, May 2015.

    Reviewed and uploaded by Joshua Minor, June 2015.

    Table of Contents