02 April 2014

Now Open: “Harriet Tubman and the Combahee River Raid” Exhibit

Balancing present needs for infrastructure with environmental and cultural heritage preservation is always difficult. A decades long vigorous discussion about widening US Highway 17 centered on concerns about the environmental impact on the waterways and historic landscapes within the ACE Basin. Preliminary investigation near the Combahee River crossing indicated a rich and multi-tiered archaeological site awaiting below the surface.  Maps of the colonial era showed that the Combahee Ferry was an integral part of South Carolina’s early transportation network including the town of Radnor and a tavern. Nearby were rice fields and plantations where remnants of mid-19th century African American life were left to explore. But most significantly, the Combahee Ferry site was critical to the abolitionist movement. The exhibit highlights the fascinating story of Harriet Tubman and the Combahee River Raid, one of the largest emancipation events in American history. The June 1863 raid resulted in widespread destruction of rice plantations along the Combahee River in South Carolina and the freedom of more than 700 enslaved people who left aboard the Federal gunboats.

The Beaufort District Collection is hosting the History Workshop’s exhibit about the Combahee Ferry Historic District and Harriet Tubman in the second floor lobby of the Library building at 311 Scott Street in Beaufort through June 27, 2014. The exhibit is a collaboration of Brockington & Associates, SC Department of Transportation, US Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration, Beaufort County Engineering & Infrastructure, Beaufort County Planning Department and the Beaufort County Library. The Beaufort District Collection is open Mondays through Fridays, 10 am – 5 pm. (Please note: The Library will be closed Wednesday, April 23, 2014 for Staff Training and on Monday, May 26, 2014 for Memorial Day.)

We've added a table of supplemental information about Harriet Tubman and our area's Civil War history from the Beaufort District Collection's holdings. We'd love to get your reactions to the exhibit in our register.  We'll be available in the Research Room during our customary hours of operation to answer your questions and/or to suggest additional sources of information about early transportation networks, economic history, records of the Combahee River Raid, etc. If you have a question, we will do our best to help you uncover the answer. 

Heads up:  Dr. Eric Poplin, lead archaeologist at Brockington & Associates and for this project, will speak about the archaeology of the Combahee River Historic District on Monday, June 9th in a program co-sponsored by the Beaufort District Collection and the Beaufort Chapter, Archaeological Society of South Carolina.  Dr. Poplin will lecture in the Children's Programming Room, Beaufort Branch Library, 311 Scott Street at 6 pm.  

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