Historian. Wallace was born in Columbia on May 23, 1874, the son of William Henry Wallace and Alice Amanda Lomax Wallace. Wallace pursued his education at Newberry College, Wofford College, and Vanderbilt University. Wofford awarded him a B.A. in 1894 and an M.A. in 1895. He earned his Ph.D. from Vanderbilt in 1899. Both Presbyterian College and the University of South Carolina later recognized him with honorary degrees. On January 10, 1900, Wallace married Sophie W. Adam of Spartanburg. They were the parents of four children. Following Sophie Wallace’s death in 1933, Wallace married Maud Orr on October 6, 1937.

Wallace left a dual legacy for the study of South Carolina history. As a professor of history and economics for more than four decades at Wofford College, he challenged hundreds of students to love history and to value citizenship. As a writer, Wallace’s magnum opus, the multivolume History of South Carolina, was the premier history of the state for more than six decades after its publication in 1935. In 1951 the University of North Carolina published an abridged version of Wallace’s history entitled South Carolina: A Short History, 1520–1948, which became the college text for many future teachers and practitioners of South Carolina history.

In addition to the History of South Carolina, Wallace wrote Constitutional History of South Carolina, 1727–1775 (1899), Civil Government of South Carolina and the United States (1906), Life of Henry Laurens (1915), The Government of England (1925), South Carolina Constitution of 1895 (1927), and History of Wofford College (1951). He also produced scholarly articles and was a regular contributor to the Southern Christian Advocate.

Wallace considered his History of South Carolina and Life of Henry Laurens to be his best historical works. While “holding the most exacting standards of scientific accuracy,” Wallace also believed that “all history should be written to be read.” Thus, while advocating the scientific history of the nineteenth century, Wallace in his writing style looked toward the twenty-first century. Considered progressive at the time of its publication, Wallace’s History nevertheless reflected the attitudes and biases that prevailed in the South Carolina of his day.

A historian who valued public service, Wallace was active in the Methodist Church, served on the State Board of Charities and Corrections (later the State Board of Public Welfare), and was a trustee for the South Carolina Boys’ Industrial School. He was also elected to Phi Beta Kappa. Wallace died on April 29, 1951, in Spartanburg and was buried in Oakland Cemetery.

Wallace, David Duncan. The History of South Carolina. 4 vols. New York: American Historical Society, 1935.

Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Article Title Wallace, David Duncan
  • Author Alexia Jones Helsley
  • Website Name South Carolina Encyclopedia
  • URL http://www.scencyclopedia.org/sce/entries/wallace-david-duncan/
  • Access Date July 11, 2020
  • Publisher University of South Carolina, Institute for Southern Studies
  • Original Published Date July 7, 2016
  • Date of Last Update July 21, 2016