20 September 2015

Books about Beaufort County, SC: A Highly Selective List

There are so many good non-fiction books about Beaufort County, SC that it is hard to choose just a few of the best books to recommend. I always try to match the reader/researcher with the best source for their topic of interest. With such a broad and deep history, though, it can be hard to narrow down to the one best source. What follows is a highly selective list of my recommendations to newcomers and old-timers.

Most Authoritative:  I can state without reservation that the most complete history will be the three volume A History of Beaufort County, South Carolina by Lawrence Rowland, Alex Moore, Gerhard Spieler, and Stephen Wise.

  • Volume 1, published in 1996, covers the period 1514-1861.      
  •  Volume 2, entitled Rebellion, Reconstruction, and Redemption, covers the period 1861 – 1893.
  • Volume 3, entitled Bridging the Sea Islands’ Past and Present, 1893 – 2006 will be released on 30 October 2015.

I ordered a dozen copies to distribute through the Local History sections at the Branch Libraries. Look in the Local History sections for call number 975.799 ROW vol. 1, 975.799 ROW vol. 2, and soon 975.799 ROW vol. 3. And of course, you are invited to attend one of the Rowland & Wise Author Book Talks and Signings co-sponsored by the USC-B Libraries, the BDC, and our partners being held this Fall. (You just missed the BDC@ Beaufort Branch presentation on volume 2.)
Please note: There will be a grand presentation for volume 3 at the USC-B Performing Arts Center on Sunday, November 8th at 3 pm co-sponsored by USC-B, USC-B Libraries, the Beaufort County Historical Society, the Parris Island Historical and Museum Society, and the Beaufort District Collection, Beaufort County Library. It's free!

The Best Short History: Historic Beaufort County: An Illustrated History by Michael C. Taylor, 2003, gives a broad outline of the key issues and eras from the Native Americans to the early 21st century. Look in the Local History sections for call number 975.799 TAY. (I use this book as the go-to initial introduction to the sweep of Beaufort District history. For example, Ashley is  going chapter by chapter and then identifying items in our holdings that illuminate the topics presented in each chapter to reinforce the narrative. When the book is completed and all the identifying relevant materials about each chapter done, she will have "touched" about 75% of our collection.) 
The Best Civil War/Reconstruction era history is Rehearsal for Reconstruction: The Port Royal Experiment by Willie Lee Rose, 1964. In many ways, Beaufort County SC was Ground Zero for Reconstruction. This well researched book thoroughly explains why St. Helena Island and by extension Beaufort District was so important to that effort. Some local history sections use call number 975.704 ROS while others use call number 306.3621 ROS.

The Best History of the role of the US Military in the Area is Parris Island: Once a Recruit, Always a Marine by Eugene Alvarez, 2007. Heat, sand gnats, and rigorous training turn a few patriotic boys and girls into fighting men and women willing to defend the United States Constitution against all enemies foreign or domestic. The Navy and its subdivision, the Marine Corps, saved Beaufort County economically speaking in the early days of the 20th century.  Look in the Local History sections for call number 359.9657 ALV.

The Best Modern Era history is Profits and Politics in Paradise: The Development of Hilton Head Island by Michael N. Danielson, 1995. Danielson tackles the impact of planned gated communities on Beaufort County socio-economic and political life. Look in the Local History sections for call number 333.7 DAN.

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