The ebb and flow of history has washed over the shores of Beaufort County for more than 400 years. Spanish, British, French, Scot, Confederate and United States flags have all flown over these islands. Port Royal and St. Helena Sounds have been important in maritime trade since colonial times. Military fortifications dot our landscape. Today the Sea Islands are known internationally as the home of Gullah culture and as wonderful places to retire. This special collection was created in 1992 to record this rich heritage. We call this unique collection the “Beaufort District Collection” to emphasize its core focus.
"All American history begins in Beaufort." -- Larry Rowland, Ph.D.
The purpose of the Beaufort District Collection is to acquire, preserve, maintain and make accessible a research collection of permanent value which records the history of the area of lowcountry South Carolina known as the old historic Beaufort District. Our goal is to be excellent stewards of the materials entrusted to our care. Therefore, the Research Room is intended to be used by customers over age 12 who perform their own research. Younger children have access to the components of our "Virtual BDC" and resources in other parts of the Beaufort County Library. Our philosophy of service is to offer as many free services as possible to those who are interested in learning more about the history, culture, and environment of Beaufort County.
The Beaufort District Collection is designed to support the needs of customers over age 12 who perform their own research inside our research room. Nevertheless, we accommodate those customers who are unable to visit our facility or who choose not to visit our facility by offering two fee-based services. Fees are set by Library Board of Trustees policy.
Beaufort District Collection, originally called the South Carolina Room, was created in 1992 to
record the rich historical, cultural, and environmental heritage of the former Beaufort District. Beaufort District once covered all or parts of present day Beaufort County, Hampton County, Jasper County, and Allendale County. We re-named this unique collection the “Beaufort District Collection” to emphasize its core focus.
The Beaufort District Collection Research Room is for reference purposes only. Items may not be removed from the BDC Research Room.
Please note: Duplicate copies of some titles are available for check-out in the "Local History" sections at Beaufort County Library branches. Ask for assistance locating these "Local History" sections at your Branch Library. You might be pleasantly surprised by how much information we share through the "Local History" sections.
The focus of the BDC is on Beaufort District history, culture, and environment. At one point in the past, Beaufort District included all or parts of current Beaufort, Jasper, Hampton, and Allendale counties. We share duplicate copies of some BDC materials through the Local History sections of our five Branch Libraries.
Catalog Update (5/22/2013) .We strive to be excellent stewards of the materials entrusted to our care. One of the major tasks in special collection management is making certain that we have all the materials we own listed in the SCLENDS catalog and that SCLENDS shows all the materials we own. Such a thorough accounting of our assets is in keeping with national standards for management of a cultural heritage collection. We are making progress but many items and most of the archival collections remain uncataloged. Feel free to ask us about our holdings.
BDC Genealogy Workshops: "Digging Up Your Civil War Ancestors"
Coming in Summer 2013! (Ages 12 - up)
Get ready for our “One County Reads The Civil War” project coming this Fall. Identify your Civil War ancestors – whether they wore the Blue or the Gray! Information relating to the United States Colored Troops will be included as well. Grace Cordial, Beaufort District Collection Manager, is the presenter. Free. Basic computer skills helpful. Space is limited.
Read Connections and Facebook for Family History tips!
Local Newspapers and Magazines
The only print magazine subscriptions that the BDC currently receives are the South Carolina Historical Magazine, Carologue, and the Bluffton Breeze. We have a number of defunct magazine backfiles. Contact us for further information.
BDC Map Collection
The BDC currently houses more than 500 maps of the local area. As of this writing most are listed in the SC LENDS catalog.
Collection of 19th Century Illustrated Newspaper Prints
The BDC currently houses about 150 sheets from Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper and Harper's Weekly. Most of the images date from 1861 - 1900. As of this writing approximately 100 are listed in the SC LENDS catalog.
The largest collection of microfilms within the Beaufort County Library is located in the Beaufort District Collection Research Room. In addition to local newspaper, some local records and census microfilm, we provide access to 18 series of South Carolina Archives microfilm of primary documents. Click here for a guide to our holdings on microfilm of state records. For a description of the individual series of state records click here.
For a draft inventory of all the microfilm within the Library system click here.
Beaufort District Collection, Beaufort Branch, and Hilton Head Branch libraries have microfilm reader/printers. The BDC has one microfilm reader/printer in its quarters on the 2nd floor of the 311 Scott Street building. Access is on a "first come, first served" basis. Photocopies made from microfilm reader/printers cost .25 per page.
The Library's holdings on microfilm and microfiche are listed in our online catalog.
Please call Beaufort Branch Reference staff at 843-255-6458 or Hilton Head Branch Reference staff at 843-255-6525 for information regarding access to their microfilm holdings.
We have more than 1200 vertical files of newspaper and
magazine articles, pamphlets,
and other ephemera about topics of local interest. The list of subject headings used in the BDC vertical file drawers is available in the SCLENDS online catalog.
Obituary Files and Local Newspaper Files
A file of obituary notices drawn from Beaufort area newspapers is maintained in the Beaufort District Collection. The file is not complete and work continues. Current coverage is 1862-1984, 2007 for some local newspapers. To see the list of newspapers indexed for our obituary files, click here. The Online Obituary Index is found at http://beaufortcountylibrary.org/obituary-files/public/deadpeople_list.php?a=showall.
The Beaufort District Collection has the largest collection of local newspaper microfilm in the system. Beaufort Branch and Hilton Head Branch offer some newspapers at their respective locations. There are no microfilm services offered at Bluffton Branch, Lobeco Branch or St. Helena Branch Libraries.
Researchers can access the obituary card files in the Beaufort District Collection Research Room. Photocopies made by customers inside the BDC cost .10 per page. For customers who find it inconvenient to visit our facility to perform this work for themselves, Beaufort County Library provides copies of obituaries on a fee-for-service basis. For details, see How to Order Obituaries.
Interested in obituaries in other parts of South Carolina? Visit the "South Carolina Obituary Resources" page!
Beaufort County Historical Society Papers
The Beaufort District Collection houses over 60 papers presented at meetings of the Beaufort County Historical Society. These provide information on many topics of interest: family histories, towns, historic sites, houses, and major events. In addition, some of these papers are available on microfilm at Beaufort and Hilton Head Branch Libraries. Only a few are listed in the SCLENDS online catalog. This is a cataloging project yet to be done. Please call Beaufort Branch Reference staff at 843-255-6458 or Hilton Head Branch Reference staff at 843-255-6525 for information regarding accessibility to the Beaufort County Historical Society Papers on microfilm at their respective branch.
BDC@ The Branches Local History Programs
Throughout the year, the Beaufort District Collection brings in authors and speakers on a variety of topics meeting our mission to share information about the history, culture, and environment of our area. Please check the Beaufort District Collection Connections blog , our Facebook Page, and/or the Library Event Calendar for details about upcoming programs.
BDC@ The Branches Local History Program Series - Summer 2013
Customers from any part of Beaufort County are welcomed to attend BDC@ The Branches programs. Programs are free, but please note that some require pre-registration. Most of our offerings are designed to be of interest for those aged 12 and above.
We make presentations and conduct group guided tours, too!
The staff of the Beaufort District Collection welcomes opportunities to make presentations to middle school and high school students, community groups, and church groups about the "Wonders of the Beaufort District Collection," our services and programs. We can even design a presentation just for your group - with sufficient notice. Please contact us to discuss your needs.
Upcoming Outreach & Public Relations Activities
Research Group, Historic Beaufort Foundation - May 10th; Computer Session - June 11th
Gen. Richard H. Anderson Chapter, Sons of Confederate Veterans - August 5th
Group tours of our special collections storage and work area can be arranged with sufficient notice. National standards for special collections restricts public access to archival storage areas. We can accommodate groups of 5 to 25 members, with 15 adults being the ideal size. Please contact us to arrange a "Behind-the-Scenes" tour as guided tours must be booked in advance. Call 843-255-6468 to discuss arrangements.
The online index does not include the actual text of the obituary notices. It lists only dates and newspapers in which the notices appear. We limit our obituary service to providing a photocopy of an obituary notice for a deceased individual as found in our local newspaper microfilm. This is a fee based service. We do not search obituary files of other newspapers.
Our obituary reference service fee structure has two levels based upon the degree of staff time necessary to fulfill your request:
Please check our Online Obituary Index for the individual's name.
Sometimes, there is no published obituary notice for a deceased individual within our local newspaper microfilm. In this case, a customer will receive a report listing the names of those deceased persons as given in the seven subsequent issues of the local newspapers starting with the date of death provided by the customer.
A customer must pay for the search whether or not a published obituary is found during the staff time devoted to reading the newspaper microfilm.
The charge for the obituary service for a person not listed in our Online Obituary Index is ten dollars in US currency ($10.00 US). Fees must be paid in US currency.
The $10.00 research fee must be received before the research is done.
Submit orders by e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Beaufort District Collection
Checks and money orders are to be made out to
"Beaufort County Library."
Telephone requests can be submitted by leaving a voicemail message at (843) 255-6468. Please speak clearly and slowly, carefully spelling out the surname of the deceased person. Leave your telephone number so that staff can return your call to verify your name, the name of the deceased, and your mailing address.
Each question is considered separately.
Fees are to be paid by return mail as soon as you receive a formal reply in writing from staff at the Beaufort County Library.
Fees must be submitted in US currency. Residency is determined by the address to which the document packet is sent via USPS mail.