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J. Mitchell Reames papers

Identifier: SCL-MS-11084

The papers of James Mitchell Reames (1920-1987) span the years 1907 through 1990. Included in the papers are correspondence, writings, reports, news clippings, scrapbooks, and audio tapes. Units of material in the collection reveal Reames's dedication to librarianship and Methodism in South Carolina, and the collection focuses principally upon these two lifelong commitments. The primary focus of the collection is Reames's professional career as an academic librarian working in and for South Carolina libraries, with the exception of six years spent in Louisiana. Reames's library work experience started when he served as secretary and student assistant to the Furman University librarian during his undergraduate years. It continued at the University of North Carolina, where he earned the B.S. in Library Science in 1942, and at the University of Michigan, where he earned the A.M.L.S. (advanced) degree in Library Science in 1954. After military service in the United States Navy during World War II (1942-1946), Reames embarked upon his career as a college librarian, which lasted from 1946 to 1983 and took him to four institutions--Clemson College, 1946-1952; Northwestern State College of Louisiana, 1952-1958; University of South Carolina, Columbia, 1958-1970; and Marion State College (now Francis Marion College), 1970-1983, where he held the position of Director and in 1971 presided over the dedication of a new college library.

The correspondence series illustrates Reames's relationships with other college librarians and details the history of academic librarianship in South Carolina and the Southeast during the post-World War II years. Chief among these correspondents are J. Isaac Copeland, with whom Reames was first associated at Furman and later at the University of North Carolina; John Goodman, of Clemson; Alfred H. Rawlinson, of the University of South Carolina; and Guy R. Lyle, of Emory University. Large units of material attest to his membership in such professional organizations as the American Library Association, the Association of Southeastern Research Librarians, and the South Carolina Library Association, which he twice served as president. The collection also shows the extent of his participation as consultant in the work of evaluation committees sent out by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

Also present is a series of letters relating to Furman University. Primary among the correspondents are the following individuals: Bennette E. Geer, who served as president of Furman University, 1933-1938; Herbert K. Gezork, the German-born professor who was exiled for his faith and then in 1938 was dismissed from his position as assistant professor of Religious Education at Furman; Albert S. Berghauser (1881-1962), a professor of German with whom Reames corresponded for twenty-five years; and Edwin McNeill Poteat, to whom Reames wrote out of his concern for academic freedom and the retention of non-Baptist members of the teaching faculty at his alma mater. Included also in the correspondence series are specimen letters circulated among members of the "Caboose Club"-- Reames, Rhett Jackson, Eben Taylor, Harris Parker, and Larry Jackson.

Reflected in many of the topical series files is Reames's dedication as a layman in the Methodist Church. Reames became a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, when he joined McLeod's Chapel, Rembert, S.C., in 1934. He was later active in the Trenholm Road United Methodist Church, Columbia, and the Central United Methodist Church, Florence, serving variously on local official boards and commissions and as steward, trustee, teacher, church school superintendent, and certified lay speaker. A series of letters from three of Reames's South Carolina Methodist contemporaries, the Rev. J. Claude Evans, Rhett Jackson, and the Rev. Eben Taylor, illustrate the close association of concerned churchmen consulting one another on what they perceived to be the crises of the day facing the Methodist Church. A sizable unit of material documents Reames's tenure on the board of trustees of Methodist-related Claflin College, Orangeburg, from 1973 to 1987. The topical series also reveals his ties with such entities as the Alston Wilkes Society, the Christian Action Council, and the Columbia School for the Laity and provides biographical information of Reames's cousin, journalist Weldon James, who made headlines when he was involved in the Panay incident in China in 1937.

Additionally, the collection contains papers relating to the Reames and James families, as well as reference materials on the history of local places and persons in Sumter County, S.C. One item of particular interest is the audit of the records of the Sumter County Permanent Road Commission for the period from 1921 to 1927, and there are studies on the community of Stateburg, the High Hills Baptist Church, Salem Black River Presbyterian Church, and African-American Congressman George Washington Murray.


  • 1907 - 1990


Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

All rights reside with creator. For permission to reproduce or publish, please contact The South Caroliniana Library.


12.5 Linear Feet (10 cartons)

Biographical / Historical

Academic librarian; president, 1970-1971, South Carolina Library Association.

Repository Details

Part of the South Caroliniana Library Repository

910 Sumter St.
University of South Carolina
Columbia SC 29208 USA
(803) 777-5747 (Fax)

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