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The Waring Historical Library’s portrait project

Groundbreaking research and technology is the name of the game at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC), but the 191-year-old institution is also dedicated to honoring the history of health sciences—perhaps even more so than many folks realize. On Ashley Avenue resides the little-known Waring Historical Library, which houses rare books, journals, portraits, and artifacts (from an iron lung to examining tables) from around the state. Last month, the library completed upgrades to its air conditioning—intended to improve the environment for the collections—and kicked off an effort to conserve 20 of its portraits dating back to the 1700s.

“The subjects are all people who contributed to the development of medicine in Charleston,” says Waring curator Susan Hoffius, noting that they have already consulted with local conservators Catherine Rogers and Nancy Newton to find out what repairs each piece needs.

While the Medical Society of South Carolina—which owns the majority of Roper St. Francis health system—is assisting with the project, the Waring needs help from the community, too. ”Many of the people in the portraits still have ancestors practicing medicine in town,” says Hoffius. ”We hope that their families—and other interested parties—will sponsor conservation work.” Learn more at