George LaGrange Cook Photograph Collection

South Caroliniana Library

This collection of glass plate negatives of Charleston and Summerville was made by George LaGrange Cook in the 1880s and early 1890s. The son of the famous Civil War photographer, George Smith Cook, LaGrange learned the art of photography from his father. He lived in Charleston and then Summerville before leaving around 1892 to join his father in Richmond, Virginia.

This is divided into four categories: churches, businesses and public buildings, residences, and miscellaneous.
The majority of plates in this collection are in good condition with some emulsion loss around the edges and silvering. Three plates are broken.

Many of the plates of the churches in Charleston are of the various steeples. Mt. Zion’s steeple and Grace Episcopal’s steeple are in the collection. A rare plate of Grace Episcopal’s steeple with scaffolding is included. Also, plates of the interior of these churches are in the collection; for example, there are plates of the interior of St. Philip’s Episcopal and Grace Episcopal. The ruins of St. George church in Dorchester and a plate of St. James Goose Creek church in Summerville are included also.

The plates identified for businesses and public buildings are usually of whole streets rather than individual buildings. The middle or most prominently featured buildings were used for identification. The plates of the Charleston County Free Library, the Palace Shaving Saloon, and the Van Oven Bros were plates done of the whole street, for example, but only those buildings were identified on the respective plate. The plates of Roper Hospital after the earthquake are of every angle of the building, including the side and back views.

There are many important plates of various residences in Charleston and Summerville. Drayton Hall with its two outbuildings is one of these plates; it shows a building which no longer exists and for which no other visual evidence is known. There are plates showing East Battery and Colonial Lake. It is highly likely that several of the unidentified residences no longer stand. Also, Second North Street, and the Captain J.J. Wescoat residence in Summerville are included in the collection.

The plates under the category of miscellaneous are of people and places in the country. For example, there are two plates of a gathering of people along a stream with a little girl sitting in one of the gigantic lily pads [this image was published as “The Victoria Regia in the Open Air at Winston-Salem” in 1893]. Other plates under this category are a cyanotype plate of a photographer’s studio, various plates done of women, plates of oak trees and country lanes, and some copy work.


Beth Bilderback of the South Caroliniana suggested this collection and allowed the Digital Activities Department access to it for scanning. These negatives were scanned on a flatbed Epson Expression 10000 XL Scanner, using Silverfast scanning software. Claire White scanned the images as color TIFFs at 24-bit and 1200 ppi. From the TIFFs she created high quality JPEGs and added the preservation metadata to the TIFF and JPEG images. The JPEG files were uploaded to CONTENTdm. The TIFFs will be maintained as the archival masters on a SAN server, backed-up to DVD and tape. Beth Bilderback and Claire White created the metadata for this collection. Claire White created the home page. The metadata records follow the Western States Best Practices Dublin Core format and were uploaded as a tab delimited file at the same time as the images.

Media Types