18 August 2017

Local Solar Eclipses

The upcoming (mostly total) solar eclipse that is coming on Monday afternoon has almost everyone enthralled. Though the estimate of the totality here in Beaufort County is between 90 - 97% depending on the source, interest in this eclipse has eclipsed all expectations.

Our Library, like many public libraries along the eclipse path, has "sold out" of free glasses. Most libraries  distributed free protective glasses to those attending our programs about the eclipse. BCL staff has turned away hundreds, perhaps several thousands, of people over the past weeks - thousands of people who may not have visited any of our facilities or used any of our services. And that contact is a good thing. At least they could find our buildings and they thought that we could help - and if we had any glasses left we would be giving them away. We've even had direct contact from folks who never contact us through personal numbers and addresses to see if Library staff may have a hidden stash of solar eclipse glasses hoarded for our friends, neighbors, or acquaintances. The answer is "No, we do not."  Library staff have no glasses left to give to anyone nor do we have any to sell on the black market. As our web page states: "Due to overwhelming demand, the Beaufort County Library system no longer has any eclipse glasses remaining for distribution."

We do not have glasses but we do, however, have plenty of free information to offer about the upcoming eclipse. We have a web page devoted to the topic with access to Rob Hendrick's slideshow from an eclipse program he did at Beaufort Branch in July, an In Biblio Novitas podcast with Library staff about eclipse programs and materials, and suggested resources from the American Astronomical Society. The South Carolina State Library prepared a nifty LibGuide  with lots of links to reliable sources on the topic.

All the local newspapers are carrying information, too: Island News; Island Packet. I particularly like Margaret Evans's Rants and Raves column reflecting on our collective "Total Eclipse of the Heart" in the Lowcountry Weekly, even if she does delve over into astrology about the destined role of the eclipse baby who happens to be President at this portentous moment in United States history. Her closing sentence is masterful. 


Interestingly, the path of the August 21, 2017 total solar eclipse has been crossed by the tracks of 15 previous eclipses over the continental United States between 1503 and 1970 according to NASA. Some of the tracks crossed into South Carolina territory: October 23, 1623; June 24, 1778; and May 28, 1900.

As all our readers know, the Beaufort District Collection concentrates on Beaufort's past - and 47 years ago, Beaufort experienced a total solar eclipse on March 7, 1970. The March 7 total solar eclipse in South Carolina was the last total solar eclipse to be viewed in the continental United States until now. In 1970 the only newspapers around were the weekly Beaufort Gazette and the bi-weekly Sea Islander. (The Island Packet began publication in July 1970).

Beaufort Gazette, 12 March 1970, p. 8.

As you can surmise from the image above, photographs published in newspapers that were later microfilmed for preservation purposes are usually hard to reproduce. Ned Brown captured a completely dark downtown Beaufort at 1:30 in the afternoon. (Back in 1970, the Beaufort Gazette was still a weekly newspaper publishing on Thursday afternoons.)  

Be safe enjoying the eclipse. 

Heads up: The Library will be closed on Labor Day, Mon., Sept. 4th.

17 August 2017

Come Check Out Our New Look

The Beaufort District Collection Research Room has a brand new look!

It was very difficult to move around the room when we had more than one researcher at a time. As anyone who's been in knows, our public area is long but narrow. Having 4 tables and chairs for individual researchers allows BDC staff to sashay among the tables to more easily share materials and research advice. It also puts us in compliance with ACRL/RBMS Guidelines

The big desk has been replaced with a much smaller work station for Melissa and Amanda to help and monitor Research Room customers.

Team Kathy Mitchell, Melissa Jacobs, Amanda Forbes, Jan O'Rourke and Ileana Herrick worked wonders on re-arrangement, shifting, and going through "stuff" to make the room more comfortable for researchers and staff alike. We thank Facilities staff for doing the heavy lifting.

We are hopeful that arranging the public computer, the photocopier, the microfilm reader/printer and regular printer along the same concave wall opens the floor space as well as better accommodates the activities that actually go on in the public space of the Research Room.   

In case you're wondering what happened to our previous furnishings, "Waste not, want not" is our standard rule of thumb. The big reference station desk originally donated by the Beaufort County Historical Society when the South Carolina Room was completed in 1992 is in process of finding a new home with another local cultural heritage institution. The large tables, also donated in 1992 by the BCHS, have been re-purposed as workroom tables for docents and staff to process collections. The club chairs are now being used in other parts of the Library system.

Visit Amanda, Melissa and me in the Research Room to see for yourself. We're ready to guide you to wonderful books, articles, files, videos, etc. about Beaufort District's long and storied history.

Please note: The Library system will be closed Mon., Sept. 4th in honor of Labor Day. (Does anyone else appreciate the irony in this holiday?)

09 August 2017

Dr. Marcoux Returns August 15, 2017

In May 2016 we were privileged to have Dr. Jon B. Marcoux present a wonderful program about his upcoming archaeological search for the Sadkeche Fight. He returns to Beaufort County Library on Wednesday, August 15th at 2:00 pm  to give us an update about progress made thus far in identifying and interpreting this forgotten military engagement in a largely forgotten colonial conflict called the Yamasee War.

Please join us in the Beaufort Branch Meeting Room, 1st floor, 311 Scott Street for another illuminating local history program co-sponsored by the Beaufort District Collection and the Beaufort Chapter, Archaeological Society of South Carolina. The program is free. We'll have room to seat up to 85 guests.

Jon B. Marcoux, Ph.D.
Dr.  Marcoux graduated from Vanderbilt University in 1997. He earned his Master's degree from University of Alabama in 2000. He completed his Ph.D. at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2008.  He is an archaeologist who specializes in cultural and historic preservation and the study of late prehistoric and early historic Native American Indian societies (ca. A.D. 1000-1800). He has over 15 years of professional preservation experience, having directed archaeological survey and excavation projects across the southeastern U.S. and New England.  His recently published research explores the ways Cherokee communities negotiated the social and political turmoil caused by European colonialism. The search for the Sadkeche Fight is part of his long-term research project  to study cultural interaction among late seventeenth-century Native American Indian communities, enslaved Africans, and European settlers in lowcountry South Carolina. 

Dr. Marcoux's archaeological field work is funded with a grant from the National Park Service American Battlefield Protection Program.

30 July 2017

Are You Interested in Joining a Local History Book Club?

We had unexpected and tremendous success with the Beaufort History Museum / Beaufort County Library local history pilot series. So much so that we're hosting a Season 2 and while the lecture series is obviously going well and is highly popular, some folks want to dig deeper into local history topics. Several people have suggested the idea of a BDC book club as a way to encourage long term residents and newcomers alike to explore the depth and scope of Beaufort District's long and storied history.

Now that the BDC has a staff of 2.5 people, it is within the realm of do-ability to begin a local history book club provided that there is sufficient interest to justify the staff time necessary to make it a successful venture.

Lots of public libraries host book clubs and some of my colleagues here have been conducting book clubs for years. Occasionally they include a non-fiction local history title or two and they've even asked me to go to their club with special collection materials on their topic of the day. Sometimes a community group has asked for information about a particular local history book. In these ways, I've got packages for Tombee: Portrait of a Cotton Planter edited by Theodore Rosengarten, Correct Mispronunciations of Some South Carolina Names by Claude and Irene Neuffer, The Great Sea Island Hurricane by Bill and Fran Marscher and Sea Island Lady by Francis Griswold (which is a historical novel rather than straight history).

Through the years, I've had plenty of authors come talk about their work. Here are just some of the titles and authors that have been highlighted in a BDC@ The Branches program within the past 7 - 10 years are:

  • Battle of Port Royal by Mike Coker
  • Be Free or Die by Cate Lineberry
  • Bridging the Sea Islands's Past and Present by Larry Rowland & Stephen Wise
  • Coffin Point by Baynard Woods
  • Court-Martial at Parris Island by John Stevens
  • I Walked in Santa's Boots by Jack  Gannon
  • Jackpot by Jason Ryan
  • Last Ferry to Beaufort by Charles Wersler 
  • Lowcountry Voodoo A to Z by Carole Longmeyer
  • Northern Money, Southern Land edited by Stephen Hoffius and Robert Cuthbert
  • The Other Mother by Teresa Bruce
  • A Place Called Home by Sonny Bishop
  • Rebellion, Reconstruction and Redemption by Larry Rowland & Stephen Wise
  • Stinking Stones and Rocks of Gold by Shep McKinley
  • Yankee Scholar edited by James Hester
Any of these titles would make for an interesting topic of discussion. The range is from drug running to phosphate mining, to voodoo after all. Of course, we would not be limited to just the above titles. There are certainly plenty of potential local history related titles to discuss. There are sufficient biographies, recipe books, personal memoirs, etc. All one need do is stroll by the Local History section in any of our Branch Libraries to get ideas for fruitful reading and thoughtful examination. In fact, if you'd like to suggest a title or two, send the titles to bdc@bcgov.net.

I think that once a month or perhaps even once every other month might work best for a group discussion. There's nothing to say that we'd even have to hold the Book Club outside the BDC Research Room on the 2nd floor of the Library building in Beaufort - or even that we couldn't go all out and do a live session on this Facebook page. If there's enough interest, perhaps we could hold a session at other library locations. There's no reason for anyone - BDC staff or book club participants -- to knock ourselves out and get all stressed. This supposed to be an educational - but fun - program series.  

Before I get too deep into learning how to start a book club since I've never led one, I'd like to know if there are 6 to 12 people in Beaufort County, SC who would be interested in joining a local history book club to start in September. Please send me an e-mail to bdc@bcgov.net if you'd like to be involved.  

24 July 2017

Sadkeche Fight Program Coming Soon

South Carolina has seen more than its share of military engagements through time. As the South Carolina Battlefield Preservation Trust (SCBPT) website states "Since the Province of Carolina was chartered in 1663, hundreds of battles representing nearly every regional and national conflict have been fought on South Carolina soil." At present the SCBPT is undertaking an archaeological inventory and some site investigations of colonial and Revolutionary War battlefields. You have the opportunity in August to learn a bit more about a forgotten colonial war in a free lecture co-sponsored by the Beaufort District Collection and the Beaufort Chapter, Archaeological Society.

Historian William Ramsey states that the little remembered Yamasee War (1715-1717) “easily ranks with King Philip’s War and Pontiac’s Rebellion” as a key colonial conflict.Yet compared to these other wars, it remains woefully understudied. “The Sadkeche Fight,” as it has been called, occurred in April 1715, just days after the Yamasee War began. It was a pivotal engagement within the war, marking the first major battle between the Yamasees and the South Carolina militia. In this battle, the militia, numbering 240, defeated a force of Yamasee Indians roughly twice its size. A number of Yamasee leaders were also killed in the fighting, which halted their advance toward Charleston. 

On Wednesday, August 15th at 2:00 pm Dr. Jon Marcoux of Salve Regina University will give us an update about the search for the Battle of Sadkeche. He is an archaeologist who specializes in cultural and historic preservation and the study of late prehistoric and early historic Native American Indian societies (ca. A.D. 1000-1800). Dr. Marcoux is particularly interested in studying cultural interaction among late 17th-century Native American Indian communities, enslaved Africans and European settlers.

We’ll set up 85 seats in the Beaufort Branch Meeting Room - which should be more than plenty given that we are now in the dog days of Summer and so many of our area residents are away in cooler climes. But if you’re nervous about not getting a seat, please arrive early. We will have staff on hand beginning at 1 pm to start giving out free tickets.

Please note: The archaeological field work and lecture is funded with a grant from the National Park Service American Battlefield Protection Program.