17 December 2012

State Documents Lead to Bar-Room Trivia

In this new world of electronic delivery and digitization of materials, many people are not aware of  the role that state libraries and state archives play in keeping our citizenry informed and our government accountable.  If nothing else, the recent saga of the Georgia Archives serves as a cautionary tale.

In our state, we have the South Carolina State Library and a separate archives, the South Carolina Department of Archives and History.  Their agency roles, while distinct, are often complementary.  Both play roles in keeping us informed about what our government is doing today as well as what what our government did in the past. 

The State Library maintains the South Carolina Documents Depository Program, which keeps copies of all publications by South Carolina agencies and state-supported academic institutions. Items in the State Documents Depository include both print publications and “born digital” documents often originally published on agency websites. (There are also some depository libraries who house and share documents created in certain periods by certain agencies.  Beaufort County Library is not a state depository library). 

In 2005 the State Library began harvesting agency publications that had been published in electronic format. In 2011 it began making both "born digital" and historical publications accessible through their online Digital Collections. Documents are saved in PDF format to library servers so that they will be permanently accessible.  Anyone, anywhere can discover and explore unique and important South Carolina publications via the internet.

You can also find these documents  in SC LENDS, the library catalog for the State Library, Beaufort County Library and other member libraries around the state that have agreed to share resources and circulating materials.

I used the SC LENDS catalog extensively while researching "Child Labor in Beaufort District." I read through a lot of annual State of the State Addresses looking for statistics regarding the state of child labor in South Carolina and particularly here in Beaufort County, 1870 - 1920.  It was during that research process that the subject of Prohibition and Tillman's solution, the State Dispensary, reared its head - and how I came across this fun fact to share with you. 
Governor Ben Tillman's State of the State Address for 1892 (page 23) indicates that Beaufort County had 38 Bar rooms. Beaufort County got $9000 in licensing fees and taxes while Beaufort, the town,  got $2662 in licensing fees and taxes.  The argument Gov. Tillman made revolved around how necessary the funding from alcohol sales was for town and county governments.  Has a contemporary sound, doesn't it?  

The State of the State Addresses have loads of other interesting historical tidbits.  You can do a Subject Search of the State Library's digital collections of state agency documents and discover a whole treasure trove. Go forth. Have a little research fun.  Discover some interesting historical tidbits of your own in the State Library's digital collections.

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