Beaufort District Collection Focuses on Archives, Archaeology, and Genealogy in October

September was a whirlwind of visitors, lectures, events, discussion groups, and performances for the Beaufort District Collection. We have reached almost 4 times the usual and customary volume of BDC customers with the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History's “Civil War 150” exhibit and supplemental programs during September. Traditionally, October is quite busy as we highlight three annual commemorations in the special collections and archives unit of the Library system: Archives Month; Archaeology Month; and Family History Month.

Although the centerpiece of our efforts, the “Civil War 150: Exploring the War and Its Meaning through the Words of Those Who Lived It” traveling exhibit has moved along to its next destination (South Hamilton, MA), the Library system and its partners have plenty more Civil War related activities scheduled through the end of October. Details are available on our website: www.beaufortcountylibrary.org/civilwar.

The BDC has one final contribution to the “One County Reads the Civil War” project: the 4th annual Behind-the-Scenes Tour to celebrate Archives Month. Each year the tour features a different theme. Fittingly, staff will highlight significant Civil War items within our collection this year on Sat., Oct. 12th at 2 pm. The tour will last about 1 hour 30 minutes. 30 lucky people will learn how we care for the materials within the special collections and archives unit, how we share some of those materials in the Research Room and through the online “Virtual BDC,” and will have the opportunity to get up-close and personal with some of our Civil War related treasures.

Although we do group tours (5 – 15 persons being the ideal) by prior arrangement throughout the year, this will be the only tour offered to individual members of the general public in 2013. There is no charge to attend. There are only a few slots left for those individuals over age 12 who are interested in learning about what we have, what we do, and how we share what we have with the community – and indeed, in some cases, the world! Contact cseabrook@bcgov.net or call 255-6468 to register.

The Beaufort County Planning Department and Beaufort County Library have co-sponsored Archaeology Month programs during October for almost a decade now. This year we are very pleased to be collaborating with the Hilton Head Chapter of the Archaeology Society of South Carolina. Two of the Archaeology Month events are being held in the Beaufort District Collection. On Tues., Oct. 15th, archaeologist Helena Ferguson will talk about efforts to raise public awareness about the value of archaeology. A few days later, on Saturday, Oct. 19th, Dr. Jon Leader and Dr. Eric Poplin will identify objects for the public during the “What the Heck Is It?” session from Noon to 4 pm.

We have copies of the 2013 Archaeology Month poster, “Public Archaeology in South Carolina” in the BDC Research Room to give away. Drop by during our regular hours of operation, Mondays through Fridays, 10 am – 5 pm to pick up one.

The inaugural Arkhaois Cultural and Archaeology Film Festival gets underway at the Coligny Theatre on Hilton Head Island, Oct. 24 – Oct. 26. The South Carolina Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology, Coastal Discovery Museum, the Humanities Council of South Carolina, and the Arts Commission of South Carolina hope to turn this into an annual event on Hilton Head Island. More than 30 films are set for screening.

All of these Archaeology Month events are free and open to the general public.

October is also Family History Month. Approximately 35 – 40% of our Research Room and e-mail customers are interested in exploring their roots. This can be rather challenging as so many of our government records were lost in 1865.

The Library system provides access to Ancestry Library Edition year-round to support genealogical research. Although the BDC concentrates on genealogical materials relating to our immediate area, we try to guide anyone interested in pursuing this avocation to appropriate sources of additional information. To facilitate researchers, we offer occasional genealogy workshops, one-on-one research appointments, and telephone reference interviews by prior arrangement throughout the year. Because time and staff are in short supply, we will focus on Family History Month primarily through the BDC’s social media this year. Since 2008 we have made almost 100 posts about family history and genealogical matters to our blog, www.beaufortdistrictcollectionconnections.blogspot.com. On our Facebook page, www.facebook.com/BDC.BCL (case-sensitive), expect to see a genealogy hint or tip every weekday during October.

We hope that you will continue to support the efforts and programs of the Library system as we note Archives Month, Archaeology Month, Family History Month, and conclude the “One County Reads the Civil War” project.

About the Author

Grace Cordial has been responsible for the day-to-day operation of the Beaufort District Collection at the Beaufort County Library since 1999.  The Beaufort District Collection exists to acquire, preserve, maintain and make accessible a research collection of permanent value which records the history, culture, and environment of our part of the South Carolina lowcountry.  Besides the research room, Cordial manages the “Virtual BDC:” the BDC web pages, the Online Obituary Index, two digital collections, a new BDC.BCL Facebook page, and the Connections blog.  
 
Among her duties is to coordinate or present programs about local history, Gullah culture, and our coastal environment, including occasional instructional sessions about how to perform historical and/or genealogical research.