Charles Luce Harrison (1883-1946) came to southeast Missouri from Ohio with his family in 1898. His father, William, was involved in the timber operations in the lowlands around Morehouse, Missouri. As an adult, Charles became an officer in the Himmelberger-Harrison Lumber Company founded by his father and John Himmelberger, and headquartered in Cape Girardeau.
Charles Harrison played a prominent role in the business and civic life of Cape. He was actively involved in the construction of the Hotel Marquette, the Mississippi River Traffic Bridge, the Cape Girardeau Public Library, and an extensive addition to the St. Francis Hospital.
A business man by day, Harrison's passion was books and book collecting. He described book collecting as his "inexpensive hobby" and allowed himself only $50 a month for the enterprise. He confessed that this method resulted in books occasionally purchased on the "installment plan." Despite the frugality of his method, Harrison's collecting, which he began in earnest in the 1930s, produced a wonderful library that continues to delight students, scholars and other visitors to Kent Library. When Harrison passed away in 1944, he willed the collection to the Southeast Missouri State Teachers College.
The Rare Book Room was established in 1968, in Charles Harrison's memory, by a gift from his family.