Jewish Merchant Project

For more than 300 years, Jewish settlers have crossed the Atlantic and made their homes in South Carolina. The earliest Jews populated Charleston, Georgetown, and later Columbia, where they held a variety of occupations and became immersed in civic life. After the Civil War, Jewish peddlers and merchants became more ubiquitous. Men and women fleeing oppressive governments in Central and Eastern Europe came to South Carolina determined to create better lives for themselves, their families, and the friends and neighbors who soon followed. By the late 1800s, Jewish merchants had set up shop on downtown streets in towns big and small, and more than 100 years later their legacy remains alive through their descendants. The Jewish Merchant Project hopes to preserve memories of the men and women who have played vital roles in communities across South Carolina.    

Project Objective

The Jewish Historical Society of South Carolina (JHSSC) has partnered with Historic Columbia and College of Charleston to undertake a state-wide survey of Jewish merchants, past and present. The foundational product of the survey will be a database available on the JHSSC’s website. This database, we hope, will capture the impact of Jewish businessmen and women on communities, large and small, as well as the networks of family and friends that led Jewish men and women to call this state home.

A merchant is defined as any individual selling goods. Examples of shops include dry goods store, mens’ and womens’ wear, cobbler shop or shoe repair, millinery shop, tailoring or alteration shop, Army/Navy surplus, pawnshop or second-hand store, auction house, liquor store or distributorship, wholesale warehouse, grocery, bakery, meat market, and others. 

Jewish Merchant Project Survey

We welcome your participation in this project by completing the Jewish Merchant Project survey, available as a fillable Microsoft Word file linked HERE. An online digital submission form is linked below. 


If you would like to learn more about the Jewish Merchant Project, or to become involved, please contact Katharine Allen, For general inquiries about the JHSSC, contact

Jewish Historical Society of South Carolina



JHSSC Office
96 Wentworth Street
Charleston, SC 29424
Phone: 843 953 3918

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