18 July 2018

Research Room Schedule Adjustments in August 2018

The Beaufort District Collection Research Room is usually open Mondays - Fridays, 9 am to 5 pm -- except when we're not. The next "when we're not-s" that we can anticipate are Wednesday, August 1st and  Monday, August 6th. As frequent readers know, this department consists of a staff of 2.5 people - and sometimes it's just not possible to cover the 40 hours a week with that small a staff.  

Amanda will assist customers 9 AM to Noon and again from 1 PM to 5 PM on Wed., August 1st and Kristy will assist customers 9 AM to Noon and again from 1 PM to 5 PM on Mon., August 6th. Assistants have mandated lunch period from Noon to 1 PM and most of the time I can cover those times but not on August 1 and August 6.  Please schedule your research time with the lunchtime closure on these two dates in mind.

15 July 2018

State Documents in the BDC and on the Web

As promised in the introductory post, today's topic is State of South Carolina Records in the Research Room and the major portals to South Carolina government documents on the internet. [I apologize for the inconsistency in appearance. Spacing, format, and font coding seems to be cattywampus today.]

There are two major agencies in South Carolina that provide access to the rich heritage of state government documents: the State Library and the South Carolina Department of Archives and History. Each agency has its own mission and collection focus which I will try to adequately describe below.

South Carolina State Library 
According to the State Library's Sheila Dorsey writing in the More e-newsletter dated 6 April 2018:
For the purpose of the State Library, documents are defined, in short, as publications in print or electronic format produced by state agencies or officials which are intended for public use or general distribution. State government documents include annual reports, agency newsletters, maps, research papers, books, public university catalogs, pamphlets, and many other items.
Our role is directed by South Carolina Code of Laws 60-2-10. This role includes the responsibility to collect, organize, and retain these publications for state government employees, agencies, legislators, and the public. We are the official state depository of all state publications, but also provide eleven depository system libraries across the state, and the Library of Congress, with copies of selected materials.
You may note that the State Library uses that word "publication" often. The term publication has its root in the Latin verb publicare meaning to "make public". The Vocabulary.com Dictionary defines publication as a product designed to communicate with the public, usually printed on paper but alternatively or simultaneously communicated via electronic means, as in the case of an online publication placed on the Internet. Thus, the State Library collects both physical and digital state documents to help citizens understand the actions of governmental bodies and their officials both in the present time as well as in the past. The State Library has an ongoing digitization effort to make historical paper records and current "born-digital" state documents available online through the South Carolina State Documents Depository.

The main access points to the state documents that the South Carolina State Library provides are the SCLENDS catalog for the physical printed publications and the South Carolina State Documents Depository which provides access to publications produced by state agencies and state-supported academic institutions including those “born digital” documents often originally published on agency websites.

You may recognize the SCLENDS search screen because this is the same catalog that Beaufort County Library and the other member Libraries use.

Sometimes the documents found in SCLENDS are linked out to display the electronic version of that particular document. Sometimes the State Library will loan out a state document. For example, one can borrow a printed copy of the "Report of the South Carolina State Election Commission" from the State Library with a valid Beaufort County Library card number. Click the "Place Hold" icon on the far right and enter your library card number and password into the next screen and follow the directions to request delivery of the item to your favorite branch library for you to pick up  OR simply click on the URL under "Electronic resources" and get the publication delivered to your screen electronically. 

Finding state documents can be quite confusing so the State Library has created a South Carolina State Documents Depository subject guide for citizens and residents to use. 

South Carolina Department of Archives and History (a.k.a. the State Archives) 
The South Carolina Department of Archives and History (SCDAH)  is an independent state agency whose mission is to preserve and promote the documentary and cultural heritage of the Palmetto State. Its ruling legislation is the Public Records Act (Code of Laws of South Carolina 1976, as amended, Sectons 30-1-10 through 30-1-170). Until the State Legislature tapped the Historical Commission of the State of South Carolina to be the official body to take care of its records in 1905, individual South Carolina public officials safeguarded government records, usually with great zeal and sometimes with great courage and only after personal sacrifice. For many years of its existence, the State Archives has been undermanned and underfunded, often relying on a very small number of employees. (See The Palmetto State's Memory: A History of the South Carolina Department of Archives and History, 1905-1960 by Charles H. Lesser, 2009 to learn more).

The department houses approximately 11,421 record series, a total of 30,615 cubic feet of paper records and 24,533 microfilm reels of non-current state, county, and municipal records, as well as copies of records relating to South Carolina government and history from other governments and private sources. The collections at SCDAH are one of the most comprehensive state archival collections in the United States, spanning more than 325 years of South Carolina history.

*The earliest surviving South Carolina state document is a record book begun in 1671 by the first Secretary of the Province, Joseph Dalton.  (For fun, check out the "Collection Curiosities at the SC Archives" website.)*  

A primary function of SCDAH is to work in partnership with state agency and local government officials in the proper management of their records and to identify and preserve for public access those of historical/archival value (a subject for the July 22nd and July 29th posts). 

The main access points to the state documents that the South Carolina Department of Archives and History protects and provides are: SCArchCat (the SCDAH's online catalog), the Summary Guide to Holdings, the South Carolina Electronic Records Archive, and the Records Online Index.  The State Archives has an Online Resources landing page that includes access to the State Historic Properties Records, State Historic Preservation Office's ArchSite and South Carolina State Government Website Archives. 

The SCArchCat is the State Archives's online catalog. It provides summary level information on all series, full descriptions of over half of the series, and lists of containers and folders of many of the series.

 In addition to keyword searches, you can: 

  1. Advanced Search - Type in subject, name, agency, place, or other search term to search specific fields, and get lists and description of records relating to your search.
  2. Browse Subject Terms - View alphabetical lists of subject terms, names and other index terms available for searching.
  3. Browse Holdings - View lists of holdings arranged alphabetically by series title or creator, or numerically by series number.
For example, I did a Keyword Search on "Beaufort County" and got 30 hits including the ones shown in this screen shot:

The South Carolina Archives Summary Guide to Holdings has seven separate guides: Summary Guide to State Records; Summary Guide to Local Records; Summary Guide to Federal Records; Summary Guide to British Records; Summary Guide to Records of the Confederate States of America; Summary Guide to Government Records of Other States and Nations; and a Summary Guide to Private Records. Taken together, the seven guides constitute basic information about every record series housed in the State Archives - and thus are a critical reference for helping a researcher decide what record series might be the most useful for the question at hand.

The South Carolina Electronic Records Archive (SCERA) holds electronic records of permanent value that have been transferred to the SCDAH by state and local governments. It also includes some digital versions of physical records held at the Archives. Searching is by keyword/full-text or browsing. The Archives staff suggest that if you do use a keyword search, you should also browse nearby records to see related materials. (You may also want to read the Connections post I wrote about SCERA when it went live in February 2016. It provides greater details on how to use this resource.

At present SCERA contains 6 main collections: 

You can download individual files directly from SCERA.  

Let's say that you are looking for a birth certificate for Elizabeth Green. 
And as luck would have it, there is one in the birth certificates for children born in 1916. And if you're really lucky, she is just the "Elizabeth Green" you seek!

This Elizabeth Green is the daughter of a Beaufort County Jericho Plantation farmer, John Green and his wife, Josephine Goodwine Green also of Jericho Plantation. Elizabeth was born on April 29, 1916 and delivered by a midwife, Kizzie Moultrie (?).  

Please note: Only birth certificates from 1915 and 1916 are currently available as South Carolina law requires a 100 year delay in the release of birth records to the general public. The Vital Records Office of the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control contains information about how to secure birth certificates. I haven't heard if or when the 1917 birth certificates will be posted in SCERA.

Articles of Agreement (SCDAH)
Be sure to explore the six categories. For example, under the Constitutional and Organic Documents webpage, you can find the Articles of the Agreement of the Lords Proprietors from 1674. (Lord William Berkeley wasn't allowed to sign. Read why in the Encoded Archival Description in the left hand column of the cataloging data).

The Records Online Index provides access to only about 308,500 items cared for by the State Archives but it is the index to State records that I use the most often because it provides an item-level index to selected colonial, state, and county record series. The Records Online Index covers 55 record series and provides details descriptions of 308, 580 records. Some series indexed by the Records Online Index include online images; some series are available on microfilm at both the SCDAH and here in the BDC Research Room; and some record series are only available in the State Archives building in Columbia. Ask us when you're in doubt.  

To facilitate research, the BDC makes 23 series of SCDAH microfilm available to customers in order to help compensate for the scarcity of pre-1865 Beaufort County courthouse records. All BDC microfilm, including the state record series outlined below, are listed in the SCLENDS catalog.  The SCDAH website Microfilm services page has descriptions of the series. The series are arranged here in chronological order based on the earliest date:

Records in the British Public Records Office Relating to South Carolina, 1663-1782

South Carolina Commons House of Assembly Journals, vol. 1: 1692-1701; vol. 3 - 6, 1706-1724

SC Court of Common Pleas, 1703-1790

Records of the South Carolina Court of Admiralty, 1716-1732 

SC Court of Common Pleas, Renunciations of Dower, 1726-1775

Memorials of Seventeenth-and Eighteenth-Century South Carolina Land Titles, 1731-1775

South Carolina Court of General Sessions, 1769-1776 

Records of the South Carolina Treasury, 1775-1780

Petitions to the General Assembly 1776-1883 

Accounts Audited of Claims Growing Out of the Revolution in South Carolina, 1779-1793

South Carolina Will Transcripts, 1782-1868  

South Carolina Treasury Ledgers and Journals, 1783-1791

South Carolina Tax Returns, 1783-1899 

Duties on Trade at Charleston, 1784-1789

South Carolina State Plats, 1784-1868

South Carolina Treasury Ledgers and Journals, 1791-1865 

South Carolina Tax Returns, 1783-1899

Duties on Trade at Charleston, 1784-1789
South Carolina State Plats, 1784-1868
South Carolina Treasury Ledgers and Journals, 1791-1865
Free Negro Capitation Tax Books, Charleston, South Carolina, ca. 1811-1860
Records of the Confederate Historian, 1862-1905
South Carolina Reports and Resolutions, 1868-1900

Though the original John M. McCrady plats, ca. 1680-1929 belong to Charleston County government where there is an online search screen, the State Archives has the plats indexed in the Records Online Index and provides access to the records on microfilm in the SCDAH Research Room. We bought the series on microfilm long before the Charleston County Register of Deeds office began digitizing the McCrady series.   
Let's say that I am interested in land owned by William Osborne. I enter his name into the Records Online Index search screen and choose "Plat" as the document type. 

I get two hits: One from Series L10005 which is a McCrady plat and one from Series 213184, Colonial Plat books. 

Series: L 10005 
Reel: 0002
Plat: 01421

which means that  that the record for William Osborne's land here in Beaufort County (Beaufort County was originally Granville County - but that's a topic for another post) is found in the McCrady Plats on microfilm reel 2, plat number 1421. 

The other plat is found in the Colonial Plat books, volume 3 on page 315 where you can find a digital image:  

Series: S213184
Volume: 0003
Page: 00315
Item: 00

OSBORNE, WILLIAM, PLAT FOR 500 ACRES IN GRANVILLE COUNTY. View all index terms 6/12/1735 Online images available

I believe that you are now getting a sense of the challenges faced when trying to identify and locate accessible copies of State Records and why BDC staff cannot always give a researcher an immediate answer to his/her questions.

Be sure to search the SCLENDS catalog for cataloged State documents in our holdings. This can be a bit tricky since South Carolina has had 57 governors and at least 215 named government offices  through time. We expect to add more state documents on account of the transfer of the contents of the former compact shelving area in Beaufort Branch to the BDC last year. Amanda has created a spreadsheet of what came upstairs to the BDC to be evaluated for permanent retention or discard. If there is a permanent digital copy in the SC State Library Document Depository or the State Library Digital Collection, we will discard the paper copy to preserve precious shelf space for growth of the BDC into the future. We will definitely keep those documents for which there does not appear to be a digital copy provided by a preservation-responsible institution to facilitate our Research Room customers. The timeline for completion of this project is December 2018.

The Ancestry Library Edition database available on library computers inside our buildings includes some government records, including some for the State of South Carolina - but that's a topic for another series. For now, you may just want to check out the series listed on the "South Carolina Family History Research" webpage.

Next week, I will discuss "Beaufort County Records in the BDC and the Web" saving "Municipal
Records in the BDC and the Web" for the final Sunday in July.
As always, please contact us if you have any questions about what the Beaufort District Collection has or does to facilitate learning about the deep and broad history of Beaufort, Hampton and Jasper Counties in the lowcountry of South Carolina. The Research Room is usually open Mondays through Fridays, 9 am to 5 pm: 843-255-6468 or bdc@bcgov.net.