Wednesday, July 26, 2017

South Carolina church and cemetery surveys

Sometimes you have to dust, just a bit, to rediscover a vase for fresh Trader Joe flowers or a cool bottle that would be perfect to hold loose pens. In our case you might find some little used microfiche that would make a fine new-to-you resource. Yes, I said microfiche as only a geeky genealogist would.  Microfiche, as it turns out, is an excellent resource for long-term preservation of archival materials.  Similar to reels of microfilm it is flat and about 4 x 5, not a reel. We have several collections on fiche in our collection.

As we were packing, and then unpacking, our print collection for our new digs at Richland Library. We came across a collection of SC cemetery surveys and South Carolina Church surveys.  Both collections, created by the WPA in the 1930’s, are available on microfiche. If you never heard of them don’t feel alone, they get very little use. They didn’t even have a catalog record so we dusted them off and added records. Then we explored them a bit and considered how to make them more accessible.

First, it turns out that the church inventory is digitized and available through University of South Carolina. Here is a bit of information about the inventory from the homepage:

“The Inventory of Church Archives survey sheets are available for forty-two of South Carolina’s forty-six counties. Surveys for Chester, Edgefield, Fairfield, and Georgetown are not extant. The questionnaires provided the means by which information was systematically gathered on African-American and white churches in both rural and urban areas, including address, date organized, building description, construction date, and, of primary importance, listings of any known church records.
An index to churches included in the Inventory of Church Archives is available in Richard N. Côté’s Local and Family History in South Carolina: A Bibliography (1981).”

Next, many of the cemeteries in the WPA cemetery surveys are likely available in other publications; however, these surveys are special because they were completed in the 1930’s. Many of the tombstone transcriptions are not available today through either damage or weather. For example, several WPA transcriptions for Columbia’s St. Peter’s Cemetery do not exist today. The only indication we have that they existed is through the WPA cemetery surveys. 

Here is description of the surveys from the South Carolina Department of Archive and History:

In the late 1930s, the Works Progress Administration (WPA) recorded names, birth dates, and death dates from gravestones in some cemeteries across the state. The volumes containing the transcriptions are at the South Caroliniana Library at the University of South Carolina. In 1981, these inscriptions were transcribed, organized by last name, and microfilmed by the South Carolina Historical Society in cooperation with the South Carolina Genealogical Society.”

Have a look for yourself! Below are links to our catalog record. Here you will find the link to the digitized Inventory of Church Archives and a digital list of cemeteries found in the WPA survey.

Inventory of Church Archives

W.P.A. transcripts of tombstone inscriptions in South Carolina

The cemetery survey is organized by last name not by cemetery (although the cemetery is listed on the record).  The way the material was filmed it will be difficult for the computer to read, or OCR, the records so there would be limited cross-referencing.  Would you still find it valuable as a digitized resource if we digitized the collection?  Let me know.  We are considering the possibility of digitizing the collection.


Saturday, July 1, 2017

South Carolina WWI research: a selection of new and old resources.

As the world honors the sacrifices of World War I Richland Library has recently finished indexing a new World War I resource so this is a good time to look at other valuable WWI resources for SC research. 

1. The 19th regiment was an all-black unit formed on July 28, 1918 at Camp Jackson in Columbia, SC. The unit disbanded December 3, 1918 following the Armistice.  History of the 19th regiment Field Artillery Replacement Depot Camp Jackson, S.C. by its officers and men, 1918, includes a roster of about 3000 men and officers.  The roster includes name, rank and hometown of most of the enlistees.  Some of the enlistees do not have their hometown listed and some do not have their rank listed. It’s kind of potluck! Most of the enlistees who do have a hometown listed are from the southeast including Alabama, Mississippi and South Carolina but there were some from as far away as Indiana.  We were not able to digitize the complete history as the only copy is in a library in Fort Sill, OK.  The Fort Sill librarian was not willing to loan the book to us for digitization. However, thanks to the Fort Jackson Basic Training Museum we were able to obtain a photocopy that we used to transcribe the names of the men who served in the 19th regiment. It is located in our Indexes of Local History and Genealogy collection.

2. Another important resource for researching South Carolina World War I soldiers is The official roster of South Carolina soldiers, sailors and marines in the World War,1917-18. This resource provides an alphabetical listing of South Carolinians who served in WWI. Volume 1 covers white soldiers and volume 2 documents black soldiers. The published information includes birthdate, hometown, enlistment date, discharge date and rank. Even better, this resource is now available online.  Don’t count on the search field for hits just go directly into the resource and search with your eyes!   

3. Because the service records of WWI soldiers were destroyed in a 1973 fire the Final Payment Vouchers record group has become an important tool for reconstructing those lost files. While researching a southern WWI black serviceman I requested his final statement voucher from the St. Louis regional archive. The file provided me the information that led me to the 19th regiment, info above. It also included the soldiers rank and his hometown, in this case, Florida. This record group is not indexed or digitized but it was a well spent $25.00 for the information I received. 

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

More digital content: Palmetto Leader newspaper

In 2008 I wrote a post about the Palmetto Leader, Columbia’s African American newspaper. At the time we were just starting to index the published obituaries.  Not only is that project completed but we have also indexed all the marriages and births in the Palmetto Leader.

Just as we completed that project the University of South Carolina digitized the entire run of the newspaper.  Our index, however, is still a valuable tool.  It will identify if a marriage, birth or death record exists.  With the exact citation, a researcher can then go to the digital content and find the record without viewing multiple articles.

We are excited that the Palmetto Leader is digitized and searchable because of the valuable historic information it published about Columbia’s black community.  Let the discovery begin!

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Richland County indexes and more

We are currently undergoing renovations at Richland Library-Main and the Walker Local and Family History Center has been without a home for over a year.  While 90% of our print collection is in storage we have been focusing all our librarian energies on indexing, transcribing and digitizing new resources.

Some of our efforts are now available for your research.  In addition to our previous collections these new collections are available on the Richland Library digital collection homepage and include:

1. Yearbooks from Richland County High Schools (50 years old or older).

2. Books and Pamphlets:  these are items not digitized at other institutions including the store ledger for Eastover's S.W. McKenzie. The collection also includes our list of Richland County public domain books and pamphlets available at Internet Archive, Hathitrust, SC State Library, etc. with links.

3. Indexes-local history and genealogy: Includes the State Hospital cemetery survey, the complete Randolph cemetery listing with images and the 1868 voter registration index for Richland County.  Keep checking because more indexing is coming up!




Sunday, September 4, 2016

New links


  • Republished from April 15, 2016 & updated Sept 4, 2016


Hi all,
Thanks to Jane and Carol for passing on information about these new links.

The Lexington Public Library obituary index is back online. Here is what they say it includes: 

The Lexington Dispatch was founded on September 17, 1870 by Godfrey M. Harman, who served as editor for its entire history. On March 7, 1917, it merged with The Lexington News (which was published from May 26, 1915 to February 28, 1917) to form the Lexington Dispatch-News. The newspaper facility burned on April 25, 1894 and again on March 27, 1916. In October, 1992, The Lexington County Chronicle was published October 7, 1992 to March 29, 2001. The Lexington County Chronicle and the Lexington Dispatch News combined into one publication on April 5, 2001.
Much of the first two decades of the paper no longer exists or was in poor condition when microfilmed. Between 1914 and 1917, records for both Lexington Dispatch and the Lexington News are again sketchy with many issues/months missing.

Also, there is a new site that is attempting to get all the SC probate and marriages in one site called South Carolina Probate.  It does not include Richland or Lexington County so you will still have to check here for those links. Update: I used the site for a Beaufort County 1923 probate.  The site only provided a file number. I called the number listed on the bottom of the page, Icon Software, and asked why there wasn't more info.  They said that Beaufort Probate didn't allow more info and I would have to call them.  They kindly gave me a contact number and I ordered the probate directly.  Unfortunately Beaufort County does not give their historic records to the SC State Archive. Neither do they preserve them. They just sit off site and rot away.


I am toying with the idea of having a separate "SC Court Records" section so maybe look for that soon.


The links to the Lexington Library obit index and South Carolina Probate are listed thataway --->.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Freedmen Bureau records with SC indexing

Last week FamilySearch released an interesting collections update for the week of August 15, 2016. The update included several Freedmen Bureau record groups that have updated indexing for South Carolina.  As many of you know FamilySearch houses digitized Freedmen Bureau records that are only browsable but, recently, they have undertaken a crowdsourcing project to index the records and make them keyword searchable.

As a reminder, the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands (often called the Freedmen’s Bureau) was created in 1865 at the end of the Civil War to supervise relief efforts and to assist the newly freed slaves in building new communities. The aid effort included: education, medical facilities, jobs and work contracts. The record groups that include SC indexing so far include: complaints, ration records and records from the Superintendent of Education.

In previous posts about this record group I’ve reiterated that this record group is not just for African American research. It is an important record for anyone doing SC local and family history research. For example, while experimenting with the records I found the complaint of Clara Ann Adams, a white woman from Anderson County. Clara had recently given birth. Unable to find a job she was looking for assistance. The child’s father was a black man, Wayne Donald, who worked on the nearby David Donald plantation. Before he was free he worked (i.e.: was a slave) on the plantation of Clara’s uncle. Clara lived with her uncle because her mother died when she was young. Whoa! There is a hot mess of genealogical information in that letter.

Not all the record groups, including the powerful labor contracts, have SC indexing available, yet. Use the above updated records to experiment with searching techniques to squeeze as much as you can out of the documents. There is more information to be revealed in upcoming releases. 

Friday, May 23, 2014

Scanbot

Last night, May 22, I read an article about a nifty app called Scanbot.  The iphone app scans good quality images, easy and fast then uploads them to your cloud. In my case that is Google Drive.  For a limited time it is available for free. It will be so handy when I head up to the National Archive this summer.  Jump on this!