19 November 2014

Thanksgiving Holiday Schedule

The holiday season is upon us.  The Beaufort County Library observes the holiday schedule set up by Beaufort County.
Turkeys and chickens - BCL's Donner Collection

The Beaufort District Collection will be open Monday - Wednesday, Nov. 24 - 26 our customary hours of 10 am to 5 pm; closed Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 27th and Black Friday, Nov. 28th; and  will resume regular hours on Mon., Dec. 1st.

The schedule of the branch libraries are a little more complicated.
  • The branch libraries normally open past 5 pm on Wednesdays will close at 5 pm, Wed., Nov. 26th. 
  • All units of the Library system are closed all day Thurs., Nov. 27th and Fri., Nov. 28th. 
  • The Branch libraries will be open their regular hours on Sat., Nov. 29th.  
We wish you and yours a safe and happy holiday.

16 November 2014

National Day of Listening: Nov. 28th

On Friday, November 28th, the day after Thanksgiving, StoryCorps asks all Americans to take an hour to record an interview with a loved one, using recording equipment that is readily available in most homes, such as computers, SmartPhones or tape recorders. Tens of thousands of Americans have participated in the National Day of Listening since 2008 and educators and community organizations have incorporated StoryCorps' interviewing techniques into their programs.  There is a handy-dandy free guide full of great questions to bring out great stories from the people you care about.  Talking together helps humans connect and understand our family members, our friends, and our community. Learn more

If you just have to go Black Friday shopping, then share the conversation questions during your  Thanksgiving Day meal. You're sure to learn something you didn't know - because you never thought to ask or share. 

Schedule reminder: The Beaufort County Library closes at 6 pm on Wed., Nov. 26th. All locations are closed Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 27th and on the National Day of Listening, Nov. 28th.  The branch libraries resume regular hours on Saturday, Nov. 29th.  The Beaufort District Collection will be closed on Wed., Nov. 26th at our regular time of 5 pm. The Research Room re-opens for business Mon., Dec. 1st at 10 am. (Where has the year gone?)

10 November 2014

Henry Buncomb, American Doughboy

The Beaufort County Library is closed Tuesday, November 11th to commemorate Armistice Day. Regular hours resume on Wednesday.  

On the 11th day of the 11th month at 11:00 am in 1918, by agreement, the guns of the nations at war since 1914 fell silent.  At its conclusion, the total military dead was 8.5 million. Estimates of civilian casualties range from 6 to 13 million. The Beaufort District Collection has materials and provides access to databases that can help you learn more about individual American Doughboys who served during the Great War, the War to End All Wars. 

This image is from the Beaufort Gazette newspaper, June 22, 1917, pp.4 and 8. This is a "Complete Official Draft Registration List of Beaufort County," including these precincts: Barrel Landing (left); No. 1 or "A"; No. 2 or "B"; Bengie Point; Bluffton; Brick Church; Hardeeville; Hilton Head; Ladies Island; Port Royal; and, Tomotley. Over 1200 men are listed. (To see the entire list on microfilm, visit the BDC or the Beaufort Branch Library). 

For point of illustration, I chose to investigate "Henry Buncomb" of Barrel Landing.  What can I find out about him from Library resources?  

The official roster of South Carolina soldiers, sailors and marines in the World War, 1917-1918 is in the BDC Research Room for family historians to find a synopsis of an ancestor's WWI service record. Volume 1 lists the white folks; Volume 2 lists the "Colored" folks. 

Q: Can I tell Henry Buncomb's race from the newspaper list? 
A: No. There does not appear to be any separation by race in the newspaper list, so it is prudent to check both volumes. Arrangement is alphabetical by surname. Volume 1 does not include the name "Buncomb, Henry." Volume 2 (for Black men) has this entry on p. 1233: 

BUNCOMBE, HENRY. 4134177 Res Bluffton SC NA Beaufort SC Aug 12/18. Br Bluffton SC May 10/95. 156 Dep Brig to Sept 18/18; Co A 431 Res Lab Bn to disch. Pvt. Hon disch Dec 21/18

Translating the abbreviations into regular English: "Buncombe, Henry. Service registration number 4134177, resided in Bluffton SC, joined the National Army in Beaufort SC on August 12, 1918.  He was born in Bluffton on May 10, 1895. He was attached to the 156th Depot Brigade to September 18, 1918.  I think that he was part of Company A, 431st Reserve Labor Battalion until his honorable discharge three months later on December 21, 1918.  His rank was Private.

His Army Service number may allow me to secure his service record from the National Archives.  

Beaufort County Library provides access to Ancestry Library Edition (ALE) inside our facilities. One of the databases inside ALE is the World War I Draft Registration Cards database. This record series is particularly important because in 1917 and 1918, approximately 24 million men living in the United States completed a World War I draft registration card. These registration cards represent approximately 98% of the men under the age of 46. The total U.S. population in 1917-1918 was about 100 million individuals. In other words, close to 25% of the total population is represented in these records. 

From the description of the WWI Draft Registration Cards database I learn that: On 6 April 1917, the United States declared war on Germany and officially entered the Great War. Six weeks later, on 18 May 1917, the Selective Service Act was passed authorizing the President to increase the military.  As a result, every male, ages 18 to 45, living in the United States was required to register for the draft. Because the "Complete List" was published in June 1917, we know that the men listed there were part of the First Registration of men aged 21 to 31 years old.

The card used for the first registration (sometimes called the "Twelve-Question card") includes name, age, address, date and place of birth, citizenship status, employer's name and address, dependent information, marital status, race, prior military service, and physical appearance.

From Henry Buncomb's WWI Draft Registration card I learn:
Henry Buncomb is 22 years old.  He was born at Okatee on May 10, 1895. He is a self-employed farmer. He is married but the couple has no children.  His race is listed as "African." He asks to be exempted from the draft because of his "dependent wife." The registrar describes Henry's physical features: Medium height, medium build, black eyes, and black hair.  He is not bald.  Henry has at least one eye from which to see, both hands, both feet, both legs, and both arms.  He cannot be exempted from the service due to physical disability.  Henry registered June 5, 1917. 

Not bad for about 20 minutes worth of research is it?  
  • We also maintain an obituary file which includes notices of local men killed during the War.  Unfortunately, we do not have an obituary for Henry Buncombe in our obituary files.
  • We have a vertical file headed History--World War, 1914-1918.
  • The BDC postcard collection contains a number of contemporary postcards about the training of Marines on Parris Island during the period. 
To learn more about the types of records compiled about World War I, read the Prologue article, They Answered the Call: Military Service in the United States Army During World War I, 1917-1919 by Mitchell Yockelson which is available on line at http://www.archives.gov/publications/prologue/1998/fall/military-service-in-world-war-one.html. 

Reminder: "The Shaping of South Carolina" traveling exhibit from the South Carolina Historical Society is on display during our regular hours of operation. 

02 November 2014

Exhibit & Lecture: November 6th

The BDC is delighted to offer the second lecture in the tripartite series to supplement "The Shaping of South Carolina" traveling exhibit on loan from the South Carolina Historical Society just outside our Research Room door. Representatives of the SCHS will be here to introduce the speakers and share information about the state's oldest and largest private repository of books, letters, journals, maps, drawings, and photographs documenting the history of the state of South Carolina as well as to answer any questions you have about the content of their exhibit. 

Just for November 6th, we're extending viewing hours for the exhibit to 6 pm, rather than our usual closing time of 5 pm. Visit the exhibit 10 am to 6 pm on Thursday and then enjoy the lecture by Alan-Jon Zupan and David Ballard of the SC Geologic Survey to learn more about our state’s boundary squabbles that began over 400 years ago. The lecture begins at 6 pm. Both the exhibit and lecture are free and open to the general public. 

We do so hope to see you.