All I know is what I read in the papers

South Carolina Digital Newspapers Poster

SCDNP poster created to promote program. Funded by a SC Humanities Council mini grant in 2012.

After 6 years of working with the National Digital Newspaper Program our 3rd and final grant is coming to an end. It has been a wonderful project to be a part of and I want to share some of what we have been able to accomplish through our participation in this worthwhile endeavor. I also want to thank the many wonderful individuals who made the project a success. You would be forgiven for thinking this project was solely about how many newspaper titles we digitized and how many pages were made available in Chronicling America. However, this project was also about the many fantastic people with whom we have worked as well as those with whom we have collaborated and met through outreach over the years. USC Libraries’ and South Carolina’s participation with this project was only possible through generous funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities who awarded USC Libraries almost $1M over the course of 3 grants!

Kate Boyd and Craig Keeney who served as co-Principal Investigators for the SCDNP from 2009-2015

Kate Boyd and Craig Keeney who served as SCDNP co-Principal Investigators from 2009 to 2015

Thanks to USC Libraries for supporting us in all of our efforts to do the best work we could do and in allowing us to develop an outreach program to get the word out across the state. Thanks Kate Boyd and Craig Keeney for serving as co-PI’s throughout and for your enthusiastic support of the project, for your guidance, and for so willingly travelling the state with us on so many occasions. Also, Craig, you put in many, many hours to update catalog records and to research and compose the 46 newspaper title essays included in the US Newspaper Directory covering all 110 newspapers we digitized in the NDNP-a huge feat! And for cleaning up all of the South Carolina newspaper title CONSER records while you were at it. Thank you for taking on such a tremendous amount of work! Thanks Santi Thompson for your excellent leadership, attention to detail, and good humor on the project as project manager from 2009-2012 and Ashley Knox for serving as an enthusiastic and fun colleague as metadata specialist from 2009-2010. We were happy for Santi when he left the project in 2012 to go to the University of Houston (he is now the Head of Digital Repository Services) and for Ashley when she transitioned to a position at USC Libraries as the Digital Projects Librarian.

Laura Blair shipping a batch of microfilm to our vendor in 2015.

Laura Blair shipping a batch of microfilm to our vendor in 2015.

Thank you Laura Blair for serving as metadata and outreach specialist from 2012-2015, and for your dedication, for making work so much fun each day, and for always giving 100% to everything you did for this project. As the end of the project drew near, the SCDNP team and I were so excited when all of Laura’s hard work paid off and she left us to become the Manuscripts Archivist at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville. Thank you advisory board members for sharing your extensive expertise in history, libraries, and newspapers to guide the project and for your enthusiasm and interest over the entire six years. We couldn’t have done it without you. It has been a pleasure to work with each and everyone of you and I will treasure all the great memories of our working together. We were also very lucky to get to work with so many wonderful folks at Library of Congress. The entire NDNP Digital Conversion team Deb, Tonijala, Robin, Nathan, Henry, and Chris, as well as catalogers Vanessa and Ralph, who are all very talented and outstanding people who were ever helpful and always provided the most excellent guidance to us on the project. It has been great fun to see you each year at our annual meetings in D.C.  Tonijala, I want to thank you specifically for helping me so very much in every way. You are the best! Thank you all for teaching me and the rest of the team so much and for being a joy to work with while we worked together to add South Carolina newspapers to Chronicling America. Also, thank you Helen and Leah our NEH Senior Program Officers for helping us in so many ways during the NDNP grant program! It has been a real treat to meet and make the acquaintances of other state awardee representatives all across the U.S. as participants of NDNP-to see how you executed your projects and to learn about your creative ideas for outreach and the value added resources you created for Chronicling America users. Best of luck to all of you in the future with your newspaper digitization endeavors and beyond.

Also, I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge Dr. Allen Stokes who spearheaded the South Caroliniana Library’s participation in the NEH funded U.S. Newspaper Program (USNP) which funded states to microfilm their vast newspaper collections in the 1980s to the 2000s. USC Libraries and SCL microfilmed about one million pages of historical S.C. newspapers during that time and all of this prodigious work done by Dr. Stokes and SCL colleagues made our participation in the National Digital Newspaper Program (NDNP) possible. Thanks Allen!

websitepic

Visit our website to learn more about the project and to access resources we created for researchers.

Since 2009, our SC Digital Newspaper Program (SCDNP) has been able to digitize 110 historical S.C. newspapers and more than 300,000 pages of newspapers. (USC Libraries has the potential for continuing on and digitizing the remaining 700,000 pages that were microfilmed by the USNP. And I hope that can and will happen as we graduate out of the NDNP program and look for new sources of funding and creative ways to keep the momentum going.) We digitized newspapers from 32 communities across South Carolina including Abbeville, Anderson, Bamberg, Batesburg, Beaufort, Bennettsville, Camden, Charleston, Cheraw, Columbia, Dillon, Easley, Edgefield, Fort Mill, Georgetown, Greenville, Kingstree, Lancaster, Laurens, Lexington, manning, Newberry, Orangeburg, Pageland, Pickens, Rock Hill, Spartanburg, Sumter, Union, Walhalla, Winnsboro, and York. We were also able to digitize 10 African American newspapers published in South Carolina between 1865 and 1922 for which we have received a great deal of interest from researchers. We worked closely with our vendor, Apex CoVantage throughout, who performed the digital conversion of our newspapers, and we couldn’t have accomplished anything without you guys. Thank you Joel Mills and Ravi Thota for providing so much of your digital conversion expertise and for being such congenial partners with us on this project. I will miss our weekly meetings and the opportunity to collaborate with you both. Thank you for all the hard work you put into our project. We truly couldn’t have accomplished anything without all of your expertise and technical skills!

Visit our SC subject guide full of interesting articles on SC history that we found while digitizing papers.

Visit our SC subject guide full of interesting articles on SC history that we found while digitizing papers.

In 2012, we started a successful outreach program and spoke to 81 groups from more than 20 communities in South Carolina and met so many wonderfully, enthusiastic people who love history and Chronicling America! We appreciate your coming and hearing us speak and I hope that you learned some useful research skills to help you perform research at peak efficiency in Chronicling America! We kept a tally and think we spoke directly to 1,800 South Carolinians in our presentations. Thank you to everyone who invited us to come speak to your genealogical chapter, or public library, K-12 educators, or to your students! All of our outreach efforts pointed folks to S.C. newspapers in Chronicling America and we think at least part of our efforts helped get researchers to use the resources and now more than 2.6 million people have visited SC content in Chronicling America. We have also had, to date, more than 85,000 visitors to our SCDNP resources since we began collecting statistics (website, blog, and subject guide)! If you are interested in S.C. history, you can read more than 40 articles we posted on our blog about interesting bits of history we came across as we digitized. Or see what we found in the newspapers we thought worth highlighting and sharing with you in our SC Newspapers LibGuide.

I feel very thankful and fortunate to have been a part of this project at USC Libraries these past six years. It is truly one of the most interesting jobs I have ever gotten to do. As I begin an exciting new position at Francis Marion University, and look forward to new challenges and a different aspect of working in an academic library, I will fondly remember all of the fun work we accomplished together and all of the great friendships I have made along the way. Thank you all.

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Women’s History Month

March is Women’s History Month, and what better way to celebrate it than to use the historical newspapers of Chronicling America to look back at integral characters and moments in women’s history? Covering 1836 to 1922, Chronicling America’s newspapers document a pivotal time in women’s history, including the decades-long fight for women’s suffrage culminating with the passing of the 19th amendment in 1920. Additionally, the newspapers are great resources to learn more about progressive and dynamic females in our nation’s history such as Sissieretta Jones, African-American opera singer, and Emma Goldman, political activist and speaker, to name only a couple.

Check out the blog of our fellow NDNP partner, Vermont, where they pulled together several topics covered in the newspapers related to women’s history. Another great resource is the article, “From the Local to the Global: America’s Newspapers Chronicle the Struggle for Women’s Rights,” by the Division of Preservation and Access at the National Endowment for the Humanities.

 Meeting of the national council of the woman's party

A meeting of the national council of the woman’s party, including South Carolinian Anita Pollitzer, back row, second from left. Evening Star (Washington, D.C.), February 2, 1922.

Here on the SCDNP blog, we have covered a few topics related to women’s history in South Carolina:

What are some of your favorite events or people related to women’s history? Can you find anything about them in Chronicling America? Leave us a comment and let us know!

Andrews Book Club

“Andrews Book Club,” Andrews Old Town Hall Museum Collection, Georgetown County Digital Library.

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New S.C. Titles in Chronicling America

The newspapers just keep on coming! More content from historical South Carolina newspapers has recently been added to Chronicling America. The newest material includes more from Lexington, published from 1919 through 1922; more Bamberg content from 1899 to 1906; and a long run of the Yorkville Enquirer from 1855 to 1922. We’ve included detailed information below about the new content with links taking you straight to the papers:

Lexington titles:
Lexington dispatch-news, 1919
The dispatch-news, 1919-1922
(These titles build upon previous ones from Lexington that cover 1873-1918.)

Bamberg title:
Bamberg herald, 1899-1901, 1904-1906
(This content fills in gaps in the longer run of digitized content from the Bamberg herald which cover 1899 to 1922.)

Yorkville title:
Yorkville enquirer, 1855-1922

YorkvilleEnquirer

A front page from the Yorkville Enquirer (Yorkville, S.C.).

Go here to see a full list of all 82 historical newspaper titles from South Carolina that are available in Chronicling America. And keep an eye out as more S.C. content continues to be added!

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New Additions from S.C. to Chronicling America

We are excited to announce that more historical South Carolina newspapers have been added to Chronicling America! The newest titles include The Bamberg Herald from 1901 to 1922; several titles from Camden covering the time period 1836 to 1891; and two titles from Lexington spanning 1873 to 1918. See below for more detailed information about the titles as well as a link to each paper in Chronicling America.

Camden Titles:

Bamberg Title:

Lexington Titles:

You can see a full list of all S.C. newspapers in Chronicling America here. Stay tuned over the next several months as more and more S.C. papers will be going online!

 

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We Need YOU!

Do you love using Chronicling AmericaHas the work of the South Carolina Digital Newspaper Program (SCDNP) affected your research? Has the digitization and free online availability of historical South Carolina newspapers impacted your own work?  If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, then we want to hear from you!

Here at SCDNP, we are preparing to apply for a 4th round of project funding and support from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Library of Congress to continue on with our great work of digitizing historical S.C. newspapers as a part of the National Digital Newspaper Program, and we need your help! As a part of our application, we would like to include letters of support from you: the people who use and benefit from Chronicling America and the South Carolina Digital Newspaper Program.

Some facts about our program:

  • By the end of our current grant cycle next summer, we will have digitized more than 300,000 pages from over 100 historical South Carolina newspaper titles dating between 1836 and 1922.
  • We have spoken to 75 audiences about our participation in the National Digital Newspaper Program, our contributions to Chronicling America, and ways to use digital newspapers to enhance research and learning.
  • 38 states and territories have participated in the National Digital Newspaper Program since its inception in 2005 and more are added each year.
  • Chronicling America currently has over 8 million pages of historical newspapers from around the country and is growing every day.

Supporters have written us over the years, saying how glad they are “to have more ways to research” thanks to the online availability of historical newspapers and how nice it is to do research “in the comforts of home.” One Chronicling America user said, “It is a most exciting time to be able to look back into history through newspapers to glimpse the world of our ancestors.” We would love to hear more about how the work of SCDNP has impacted you!

If you are interested in helping us by writing a letter of support for use in our application, please contact us (Virginia and/or Laura) so that we can talk with you further.

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Chronicling America, Digitized South Carolina Newspapers, and Common Core

Olde English Consortium Library Media Specialists Professional Development Conference

John Quirk of the South Carolina Digital Library

and Virginia Pierce of the South Carolina Digital Newspaper Program

SCDNP map

Map of Newspapers Digitized by the South Carolina Digital Newspaper Program

SCDNP has digitized or is in the process of digitizing newspapers from 80 newspaper titles covering more than 20 upstate and midlands communities that can be utilized by educators in the Olde English Consortium: including, Abbeville, Anderson, Batesburg, Camden, Cheraw, Chesterfield, Columbia, Dillon, Easley, Edgefield, Fort Mill, Greenville, Lancaster, Laurens, Lexington, Newberry, Pickens, Spartanburg, Union, Walhalla, Winnsboro, and York. Visit the SCDNP website for an up to date list.

To view the full list of digitized newspapers, visit the SCDNP website and look for the drop down lists seen below, titled Digitized Historic SC Newspapers Now Available in Chronicling America and Selected Newspaper Titles for Digitization, 2013-2015.tablelistscdnp

      

Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers is an excellent resource for educators and library media specialists seeking to use a free, authoritative online resource in the classroom and to find primary sources for their lessons. Chronicling America will also be an excellent source for finding primary sources following Common Core State Standards in Literacy in History, Social Studies, Science, Reading, and the English Language Arts.

Using digitized historical newspapers in the classroom will help students:

  • analyze text.
  • assess and evaluate point of view.
  • integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse formats and media.
  • read and comprehend complex literary and information texts independently.
  • determine central ideas in primary sources and learn how to accurately summarize the theme.
  • distinguish among fact, opinion, and reasoned judgment in a text.
  • compare and contrast treatments of the same topic in several primary and secondary sources.
  • integrate information from diverse sources into a coherent understanding of a topic.
  • gather relevant information from multiple authoritative sources, including digital sources, using advanced searching effectively, assessing the usefulness of each source in answering a research question, and using citations properly.
  • and use technology and digital media strategically and effectively.

SC State Standards in which educators and library media specialists can utilize primary resources of digitized South Carolina newspapers and national content in Chronicling America:

The student will demonstrate an understanding….

Standard 3-4:  …of life in the antebellum period, the causes and effects of the Civil War, and the impact of Reconstruction in South Carolina.

Standard 3-5: …of the major developments in South Carolina in the late 19th and the 20th century.

Standard 4-5: …of westward expansion of the U.S. and its impact on the institution of slavery.

Standard 4-6: …of the causes, the course, and the effects of the American Civil War.

Standard 5-1: … of Reconstruction and its impact on the U.S.

Standard 5-2: … of the continued westward expansion of the U.S.

Standard 5-3: … of major domestic and foreign developments that contributed to the U.S. becoming a world power.

Standard 5-4: … of American economic challenges in the 1920s and 1930s and world conflict in the 1940s.

Standard 7-4: …of the causes and effects of world conflict in the first half of the 20th century.

Standard 8-4: … of the multiple events that led to the Civil War.

Standard 8-5: …of the impact of Reconstruction, industrialization, and Progressivism on society and politics in South Carolina in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Standard 8-6: … of the role of South Carolina in the nation in the early 20th century.

Standard USHC-3: … of how regional and ideological differences led to the Civil War and an understanding of the impact of the Civil War and Reconstruction on democracy in America.

Below are a sample of the many topics addressed in these state standards can be researched by students in the classroom, or by teachers and library media specialists who want to share resources with students.

abolition, annexation of Texas, antebellum South Carolina, assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, assassination of Lincoln, the Alamo, black codes, boll weevil, John Brown, James F. Byrnes, Camp Jackson, child labor, civil war, C.S.S Hunley, cotton gin, Dred Scott, Frederick Douglas, W.E.B. Dubois, Freedmen’s Bureau, electricity and introduction of modern conveniences, Emancipation Proclamation,  Fort Sumter, free persons of color, fugitive slave laws, William Lloyd Garrison, Gettysburg, Homestead Act, influenza epidemic, Jim Crow laws, Kansas-Nebraska Act, labor laws, League of Nations, 1860 Election of Lincoln, President Lincoln, Mexican Cession, Missouri Compromise, Native Americans, Oregon Treaty, Panama Canal, phosphate industry, Plessy vs. Ferguson, prohibition, race, Radical Republicans, railroads, Reconstruction, Robert Smalls, sharecropping, slavery, Secession Convention, Sherman, slave codes, Spanish American War, States’ Rights, Harriet Beecher Stowe, temperance, textile mills, Ben Tillman, Sojourner Truth, Treaty of Versailles, Union blockade of Charleston, Booker T. Washington, Ida B. Wells, The West, women’s suffrage, The Great War (World War I), 13th Amendment, 14th Amendment, 15th Amendment, and the 19th amendment.

And there are so many other topics that can be researched. Really anything dating from the battle of the Alamo in 1836 to the circa 1920 passage of women’s suffrage and prohibition.

 

For tips on how to search Chronicling America…see our blog posts on

Helpful Tips on Using Chronicling America

Podcast Series on How to Use Chronicling America

 

Other resources helpful in utilizing Chronicling America content…

Find topics pages on American History in Library of Congress' Topics in Chronicling America

Find topics pages on American History in Library of Congress’ Topics in Chronicling America

 

NEH's Edsitement provides ideas on using digitized historical newspapers in lesson plans.

NEH’s Edsitement provides ideas on using digitized historical newspapers in lesson plans.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Check out NEH's Edsitement Chronicling America portal which provides info on how to conduct research in Chronicling America.

Check out NEH’s Edsitement Chronicling America portal which provides info on how to conduct research in Chronicling America.

South Carolina Digital Library Resources

University of South Carolina Digital Collections homepage

University of South Carolina Digital Collections homepage

USC Digital Collections are housed in Hollings Special Collections Building at the University of South Carolina. USC works with curators from special collections libraries and faculty at USC to digitize the university’s holdings of photos, maps, rare books, letters, diaries, scrapbooks and more. Their mission is to increase access to holdings, enhance scholarship, support teaching, and to promote learning.

South Carolina Digital Library webpage

South Carolina Digital Library webpage

The South Carolina Digital Library is a statewide collaborative effort which brings together 200,000 items from more than 48 institutions across SC. Items are fully searchable and are organized by object type, geography, time period, holding institution.

The SC Digital Academy has free lessons plans that have used historical South Carolina online resources.

The SC Digital Academy has free lessons plans that have used historical South Carolina online resources.

 The SC Digital Academy is an initiative to help teachers incorporate digitized materials into their lessons based on state standards. Teachers can access these resources by grade level and by lesson plan as well as find numerous other helpful resources compiled here.

The K-12 Primary Sources Pilot Project was a collaboration between USC Digital Collections and a group of teachers.

The K-12 Primary Sources Pilot Project was a collaboration between USC Libraries and a group of teachers.

 The K-12 Primary Sources (Pilot Project) was also a collaboration between a group of South Carolina teachers and USC Libraries. It was an experimental, early effort which is searchable by standards indicators.

Additional Resources Available are:

•USC Moving Image Research Collection:  http://mirc.sc.edu/

•Library of Congress Teacher Resources:   http://www.loc.gov/teachers/

•Digital Public Library of America:  http://dp.la/

•Internet Archive:  http://archive.org

•Lowcountry Digital Library lesson plans:  http://lcdl.library.cofc.edu/lesson-plans

 

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A Mysterious Epidemic: Pellagra in South Carolina

Pellagra is almost unknown to the average South Carolinian today, but the disease was a major health crisis for South Carolina in the early twentieth century. The symptoms of pellagra include red and peeling skin, diarrhea and other stomach ailments, and progressive mental difficulties including dementia. Pellagra first appeared in the United States in 1902 and had existed in southern Europe for hundreds of years.

The disturbing and highly visible symptoms of pellagra led to panic about the disease, termed “pellagra-phobia” as reported in The Abbeville Press and Banner in 1912. Newspapers in South Carolina frequently reported on the devastating effects of pellagra in the state and were a valuable source of information about the disease.

awfuldisease

Headline in The Times and Democrat (Orangeburg, S.C.) from 16 Sept. 1909.

Although pellagra has very distinctive symptoms, the cause of the disease was mysterious to doctors.  Leading experts suspected that spoiled corn or corn liquor was to blame, while others theorized that it was spread by insects or contaminated water. These conflicting newspaper reports show the level of confusion and concern surrounding the nature of pellagra.

Pellagra was especially prevalent among the mill operatives and poor farmers of South Carolina. In 1915 The Pickens Sentinel reported on the high mortality rate of pellagra and noted the number of deaths in each county in South Carolina.  Due to the large number of affected citizens, pellagra experts from around the world arrived in South Carolina to discuss the disease and investigate a cure. The first pellagra conference occurred in 1909. The Spartanburg Pellagra Hospital, the nation’s first such institution, was established in 1914 to research the disease and treat citizens of the Upstate suffering from pellagra.

pellagraconvention

Headline in The Times and Democrat (Orangeburg, S.C.), 02 Nov. 1909

Dr. Joseph Goldberger solved the mystery of pellagra and established that it was a dietary disease. The U.S. Public Health Service sent Dr. Goldberger to South Carolina to study pellagra in 1914.  He examined places where pellagra was rampant like asylums and prisons.  Dr. Goldberger made the key observation that while many inmates of these places suffered from pellagra the nurses and guards rarely did. This fact convinced him that pellagra was not infectious or contagious and had to be caused by the poor grain-based diet fed to institutionalized people. Impoverished farmers and mill workers in South Carolina ate a similarly poor and unvaried diet.

Newcure

Headline from The Manning times (Manning, Clarendon County, S.C.), 17 Nov. 1915.

Dr. Joseph Goldberger demonstrated in a series of famous experiments that pellagra was related to poor diet.  Children at Epworth Orphanage in Columbia and patients at the Spartanburg Pellagra Hospital were given a special diet under Goldberger’s direction focused around fresh milk, eggs, meat and vegetables to prevent pellagra at these institutions.

ownacow

Article from the Abbeville Press and Banner (Abbeville, S.C.), 25 Aug. 1915.

Some leaders in South Carolina were resistant to this breakthrough because they were reluctant to admit that many South Carolinians suffered from a poor diet. The New-York Tribune noted Representative James F. Byrnes’ displeasure about national reports of famine and disease in the state in 1921. Despite these views, dietary treatment for pellagra was highly successful and the Spartanburg Pellagra Hospital closed in 1921. Unfortunately, pellagra continued to affect the many citizens of South Carolina that were unable to afford the balanced diet necessary to prevent the disease.

Dr. Joseph Goldberger died in 1929.  In 1937 the b-vitamin niacin was discovered to be the specific nutrient that prevented pellagra. The relative prosperity brought on by the Second World War and the introduction of enriched flour containing niacin eliminated pellagra in the South by 1945.

Note for further research: Pellagra can also be spelled “pellegra,” “pelagra” or “pelegra” in various South Carolina newspapers.

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A Royal Assassination

Ferdinand

Pictures of the Archduke and his wife in the Washington Herald (Washington, D.C.), June 29, 1914.

100 years ago this weekend, on June 28, 1914, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, and his wife, Sophie, were assassinated in Sarajevo by Gavrilo Princip, a Serbian nationalist. This act not only sparked immediate shock throughout all of Europe, it also triggered a rapid series of domino-like events leading to the outbreak of the First World War.

Word of the assassination quickly reached the United States as newspapers began picking up the story. For weeks, headlines were dedicated to the timeline of the fatal event; the life and legacy of Ferdinand; the culprits and their motives; and what it all meant for the future of European diplomacy.

The South Carolina newspapers were no exception; on July 1, just three days after the incident, the Watchman and Southron included a story on the “royal assassination” (although it didn’t appear until the last page of the issue). The same day, the Keowee Courier printed a similar story on its front page. By July 3, the Anderson Daily Intelligencer ran a front-page story with more details on the assassins as well as the funeral arrangements of the royal couple. Over the following months, the newspapers closely followed and reported on the turmoil in Europe and the eventual declarations of war.

Headline in the Watchman and Southron (Sumter, S.C.), July 1, 1914

Although the United States would not formally go to war for a few more years, the tales and events of the war were heavily documented by newspapers around the country. Coming into the centennial anniversary of World War I, Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers can be an invaluable resource for finding contemporary, first-hand accounts of the war. Our topics guide on WWI provides some starting points such as key terms, important dates, and search strategies for getting the most out of historical newspapers. Also on this topics guide are some selected articles from South Carolina newspapers to help give a sense of how South Carolinians experienced the war.

Some other great resources for learning about the nationwide experience during the war would be the topics guide put together by the Serials and Government Publications Division of the Library Congress, “Topics in Chronicling America: The Assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand.” as well as the blog post from EDISTEment, “The 100th Anniversary of the Great War.”

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Tips for Researching Your Upstate South Carolina Roots

Aull couple pic 61st anniversary

Jacob Luther Aull and Julia Ann Haltiwanger Aull celebrate their 61st wedding anniversary in Newberry county, S.C. in 1917.

The Reunion of Upcountry Families is happening this week in Easley, S.C. and, in honor of the conference, we want to share some resources that might help you hard working genealogists who are researching your family history in upstate South Carolina.

The SCDNP has digitized many historic newspapers from the western counties of SC including newspapers published in Abbeville, Anderson, Easley, Laurens, Newberry, Pickens, Walhalla, and Winnsboro. To see the full list of SC papers that are available for searching and browsing in Chronicling America, visit this link.

manholdingbaby

Mr. R. G. Smith of Dry Creek Dairy Farm in Newberry, S.C. holding his son, circa 1915.

There is a wealth of genealogical data in the newspapers ranging from wedding anniversary announcements, obits, birth announcements, marriage notices, community snapshots, veteran bios, local happenings columns, family reunions, and much more. You might be surprised to find gems of family history in the biographical pieces of more than 125 local townsmen of Anderson county in the 1896 Souvenir edition of the Anderson Intelligencer. Or find a male ancestor who was featured in a 1910 Memorial Day edition in the Fairfield news and herald (Winnsboro, S.C.) titled Living Fairfield Veterans, Brief Sketches of their Lives Together with Many Incidents of the War as Told by Themselves, Containing Much History Never Published Before.

elamtempletonhenry

Private Elam Templeton Henry who was wounded at 1st Manassas in the Civil War. One of more than 100 bios of Fairfield County, S.C. veterans featured in a 1910 memorial edition.

In this fascinating edition, more than 100 veterans’ lives and experiences of the Civil War (I know…War Between the States) are captured. Could one of them be your ancestor? Some kinsmen moved north and west from South Carolina and can be found in newspapers in other states who contribute content to Chronicling America. For example, native South Carolinian Kelly Miller of Fairfield county, a contemporary of W.E.B. Dubois and Booker T. Washington, is covered in many newspapers across the nation but very few in SC newspapers of the time. Other citizens who left South Carolina like the famed Manse Jolly of Anderson county who moved to Texas and died shortly after the war. Manse Jolly’s obit is a good reminder of close family connections that were kept between relatives who stayed in South Carolina and those who moved elsewhere. Less notorious citizens might be discovered in the pages of other state’s newspapers.

All of this content is both keyword searchable (advanced searching available) and browseable (ability to read whole issues cover to cover). For tips on how to search Chronicling America, read one of our previous posts on Using Historic Newspapers for Genealogical Research.

We are continuing to add content from the upstate for this latest round of NEH funding. We will be adding digitized newspaper content from upstate communities like Greenville, Union, Spartanburg, and York. To see a full list of the titles we will be adding in 2014 and 2015, visit our SCDNP website at http://library.sc.edu/digital/newspaper.

Good luck diving into this rich, free resource. Let us know if you find a fascinating new lead on your family history!

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Fighting for Equal Rights: Anita Pollitzer

Anita Pollitzer in Woman’s Enterprise (Baton Rouge, LA), March 10, 1922

The youngest of three sisters, Anita Pollitzer was born on October 31, 1894 in Charleston, South Carolina. After graduating from Charleston’s Memminger Normal School in 1913, she attended Columbia University, graduating with her bachelor’s degree in fine arts in 1916. (She would also later earn her master’s degree in international relations from Columbia in 1933.) Often noted for her work as a photographer and her close friendship with fellow artist Georgia O’Keeffe (whom she had met during college), it was during her time as an undergraduate student that Pollitzer become involved in the suffrage movement. Pollitzer joined the National Woman’s Party (NWP) after graduating from college and went on to hold several offices within the party throughout her lifetime. She quickly became a strong voice for the movement, lobbying across the nation for suffrage and equal rights for women.

During her college years, Pollitzer worked alongside her two older sisters, Carrie and Mabel, promoting women’s suffrage at the local level. Joining the NWP only fueled Anita’s fire further, providing her with additional support as she traveled throughout her home state. Unlike other women’s rights organizations, the NWP not only encouraged equality for women, but also focused on obtaining the passage of a constitutional amendment that ensured suffrage for women. In her early party membership, Pollitzer worked closely with fellow members of the party’s South Carolina branch to spread their message. While traveling all around the state, their sessions at times drew so many people that the crowds had to be split in two and NWP members would present concurrent speeches to attendees both inside the original meeting space and outside on the street.

Anita’s involvement with the NWP continued to expand over time. She began traveling across the country to speak to fellow party members, participate in protests, and lobby for the ratification of a suffrage amendment. Pollitzer spent time working in Washington, D.C. for the headquarters of the party directly underneath one of its founders, Alice Paul. By 1920, Pollitzer was dedicating much of her time to meeting with representatives in different states, urging them to vote for the ratification of the 19th amendment which would guarantee women the right to vote. In early 1920, the Washington Herald included a small blurb about a meeting with an Oklahoma Senator who promptly wrote a telegram “urging ratification of the suffrage movement” following his time with Pollitzer. One of Anita’s most impressive efforts took place a few months later in Tennessee where, after talking with her, the state’s representatives voted to endorse the amendment, making it the 36th state to do so, which was the final vote needed to add the amendment onto the Constitution. An article in the Washington Herald from August 1920 talks about the efforts of Pollitzer and her fellow activists and the influential role they played in getting the 19th amendment ratified.

Pollitzer’s work in Connecticut is noted in the Edgefield Advertiser (Edgefield, S.C.), October 20, 1920

Even as suffrage was achieved for women in 1920, Pollitzer continued her mission for equal rights for many more years. In 1921, she served in her first official position for the NWP as a member of the Executive Council. The next year, Anita made the headlines of the Laurens Advertiser for her work in Illinois trying to establish a statewide chapter of the NWP. Continuing to work her way up in the party, Pollitzer became the party’s National Chairman in 1945, succeeding only Alice Paul. Pollitzer spent the remainder of her life advocating for women’s issues. She worked with Paul to organize the World Women’s Party, fighting for recognition of women’s equality with the United Nations. Pollitzer also played influential roles in advocating for the Equal Rights Amendment and the National Fair Labor Standards Act.

Related Resources:

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Chronicling America Workshop

Last week, the SCDNP team traveled to Winnsboro, South Carolina to host a workshop for the Fairfield County Genealogical Society. Laptops in hand, the excited attendees used the hour to learn more about our digital newspaper program and to get hands-on experience navigating and searching Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers, a database of over 7 million historical newspaper pages.

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Virginia Pierce, SCDNP Project Manager, and Craig Keeney, SCDNP Co-Principal Investigator, lead a hands-on demonstration of Chronicling America. (Photo courtesy Laura Blair)

The SCDNP team focused the workshop on showing attendees some useful tips and tricks for searching the database, especially while doing genealogical research. The team also highlighted some of the newest South Carolina titles added into Chronicling America, including several newspapers from Fairfield County.

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The front page of the News and Herald’s 1910 Memorial Edition issue.

Fairfield County newspapers are chock full of interesting contemporary stories as well as rich histories of the county’s communities and people. Virginia Pierce, SCDNP Project Manager, found some great examples to show off at the workshop including the 1866 “Historical Sketches of Fairfield District”“Personal Reminiscences: Prominent Men of Western Fairfield, Who Lived Long Ago,” an article from 1880; a letter to the editor of the Fairfield News and Herald in 1899 entitled, “Old Brick Church”; and a 24-page Memorial Edition of the News and Herald in 1910.

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Pierce and Keeney answer individual questions. (Photo courtesy Laura Blair)

During the last part of the workshop, the SCDNP team provided individual assistance while attendees practiced their own searches. As the genealogists searched their family names and communities, the team offered guidance and answered questions. A great time was had by all!

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Finding Solomon Northup in Chronicling America

Thanks to the Academy Award-winning film 12 Years a Slave, the story of Solomon Northup, a free African American who was kidnapped and sold into slavery in the mid-1800’s, has been receiving lots of attention lately. But is this the first time Northup’s tale has made headlines? It doesn’t appear so!

Our colleagues at the Vermont Digital Newspaper Project recently wrote a blog about finding Solomon Northup and his story in the historical newspapers made available through Chronicling America: “Vermont papers printed articles about Northup’s rescue and also covered the subsequent arrests and trials of his kidnappers and the man who sold him into slavery.” Check out their post, “Vermont Papers Tell the Story of Solomon Northup,” to learn more.

Vermont watchman and State journal (Montpelier, Vt.), February 10, 1853

The folks from EDSITEment at the National Endowment for the Humanities have also written about using Chronicling America to locate stories about Northup’s life and his memoir, which was first published in 1853. Read their post to see what they found in the newspapers and some of the useful searching tips they used.

What can you find about Solomon Northup in the newspapers? Leave us a comment and let us know!

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Hot Off the Press: More S.C. Newspapers Added to Chronicling America

We’re happy to announce that more historical South Carolina newspapers have been added to Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers! With new content from Newberry and several new titles from Abbeville, there are now 65 newspaper titles published in South Carolina between 1836 and 1922 that are freely available and full-text searchable on Chronicling America.

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Front page of The Herald and News (Newberry, S.C.) from May 5, 1916.

Here are the newest South Carolina newspapers in Chronicling America:

The herald and news (Newberry, S.C.), 1916-1922
This adds on to the 1903-1915 run of this title that has already been on the site.

The banner (Abbeville, S.C.), 1846-1847

The Abbeville banner (Abbeville, S.C.), 1847-1869

The independent press (Abbeville C.H., S.C.), 1854-1860

Abbeville press (Abbeville, S.C.), 1860-1869

The Abbeville bulletin (Abbeville, S.C.), 1865

The Abbeville press and banner (Abbeville, S.C.), 1869-1922

The Abbeville messenger (Abbeville, S.C.), 1884-1887

In addition to these new S.C. papers, titles from several other states have also been added to the site including the first content from the most recent states to join the National Digital Newspaper Program: Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, and North Carolina. Chronicling America is continually adding more newspaper pages so be sure to spend some time browsing the titles as the site reaches over 7 million pages!

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An Air of Festivity: Planning Your Thanksgiving

As Thanksgiving dinner approaches, last-minute questions always arise: What should be on the menu? What about the table decorations? How does one actually cook a turkey? What are the appropriate place settings? A quick Google search for the answers to these questions (and others) may be the most tempting approach, but this holiday season, why not try more “tried and true” solutions to your food queries and turn to South Carolina’s historic newspapers instead? These papers are chock full of recipes, menus, and even party-planning and decorating advice for the holidays! We found a few examples to get you started:

“A Thanksgiving dinner should have an air of festivity, but at the same time it should not be too heavy or involve too much work in its preparation.” Some pretty sound advice from an article in the Manning Times printed in November 1921. Even the article’s headline offers helpful guidance for the meal: “A Thanksgiving Turkey Has No Real Substitute.” And if these words of wisdom aren’t enough, this article goes on to include “a simple thanksgiving menu,” a recipe for stuffing, detailed directions on baking a turkey, and the proper way to prepare giblet gravy.

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Thanksgiving Proclamation cartoon in a Davis, Roper and Company advertisement in the Laurens Advertiser.

While still in the planning mode, take a look at this 1916 issue of the Laurens Advertiser which offers four possible Thanksgiving menus, all starting with an appetizer and ending with an after-dinner coffee. Also try this “Hints for Housewives” section of the Edgefield Advertiser which provides an article on delivering “A Simple, Satisfactory Dinner” for Thanksgiving. Included in this feature from 1900 are a menu, suggestions for table arrangements, and recipes for cranberry pie, pumpkin pie, salted nuts, Thanksgiving pudding, and ribbon jelly. As you get closer to the holiday, check out “The Holiday Housewife’s Plans” in this issue of the Edgefield Advertiser from 1897 that details how to break up the cooking and baking across several days in preparation for the meal.

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See four potential dinner menus for a Thanksgiving meal in this feature by the Laurens Advertiser.

The turkey is, of course, typically the star of the show at Thanksgiving. When you’re ready to tackle the main event, this 1897 article in the Edgefield Advertiser shows readers just as its title suggests: “Various Ways of Cooking a Turkey.” But what to do with all that turkey left in the aftermath of a holiday meal? The Anderson Intelligencer answers this question in an article featuring several recipes in which leftover turkey can be incorporated.

If turkey isn’t your thing, never fear! Orangeburg’s Times and Democrat was one step ahead of you with their 1908 article, “Hog Killing Time.” Full of “good old Southern recipes,” this write-up provides several recipes to “make all sorts of good things” from a hog including pork chops, hog feet, liver mush and more.

Want more Thanksgiving recipes and ideas from newspapers around the country? Check out the Vermont Digital Newspaper Project’s Flickr page as well as these great blogs posts: “Holiday Foodways” from the National Endowment Humanities and “Across Texas, Across Time: Newspaper Recipes for Your Thanksgiving Table” by the Texas Digital Newspaper Program. Also try searching or browsing on your own through the papers in Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers for more great advice and recipes for the holidays.

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Extending Our Reach

As many of you know, we were recently awarded a third grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to continue our great work with the National Digital Newspaper Program for two more years (you can read more about this here). From now through 2015, we will be working to digitize another 100,000 pages of historic South Carolina newspapers and make them available in Chronicling America.

Starting a new grant cycle means the selection of a new round of newspaper titles to work with during these next two years. While not an easy process, it was the goal of our team and our Advisory Board to choose titles that would extend our work geographically and temporally. We are very excited to announce the titles that have been selected! Drum roll, please…

2013-2015 Newspaper Titles to Be Digitized

The Bamberg herald (Bamberg County)
The Beaufort Republican and sea island chronicle and related titles (Beaufort County)
Cheraw gazette and related titles (Chesterfield County)
The Dillon herald (Dillon County)
Greenville enterprise and The southern enterprise (Greenville County)
The Camden journal and related titles (Kershaw County)
The Batesburg advocate (Lexington County)
The Lexington dispatch (Lexington County)
The Spartan and The Carolina Spartan (Spartanburg County)
The weekly Union times and related titles (Union County)
The county record (Williamsburg County)
Yorkville enquirer (York County)

Click on our map to get more information regarding specific titles and dates as well as to see how our new titles will help us represent even more areas of South Carolina. (Blue markers indicate newspaper titles we have already digitized since 2009; yellow markers indicate the new titles for this upcoming cycle.)

Also, check us out in a recent podcast from the University of South Carolina’s Division of Information Technology. We give some insight into what we do as well as what we love about our job (which was hard to narrow down into just 5 minutes!). You can listen to the podcast here.

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SCDNP Spotlight, Part 2

Here at SCDNP, we are proud to be a member of the National Digital Newspaper Program, a nationwide project that currently supports 36 states and territories digitizing historic newspapers and enhancing the way we see our nation’s history. Like us, many of these statewide projects not only contribute digitized newspaper images to Chronicling America, they also spend time creating added value resources such as LibGuides, podcasts, instructional videos, and blogs (just to name a few!). Over the next several weeks, we thought we would take some time to put the spotlight on some of these great resources from our fellow NDNP partners around the country.

Hawai’i Digital Newspaper Project

Since 2008, the University of Hawai’i at Manoa has been digitizing their state’s historic newspapers as part of NDNP. In addition, they have developed several resources highlighting the content in Hawaii’s newspapers. A few of these resources include a blog where they highlight unique articles and advertisements as well as post program updates; an excellent subject guide with tips for searching newspapers and topic guides; and a Flickr page with some fun and interesting images from Hawaii’s newspapers.

See this ad for walrus teeth and many more fun newspaper clippings on HDNP’s Flickr.

Texas Digital Newspaper Project

Hosted by the University of North Texas Libraries, this state project began working as an NDNP member in 2007. Since that time, they have built upon the NDNP foundation and have worked with institutions across Texas to create their own digital newspaper repository representing the entirety of the state. Through The Portal to Texas History, TDNP makes their newspapers freely available, and in February 2013, they reached the awe-inspiring milestone of digitizing over 1 million newspaper pages! Check out their blog to learn more about their project and view all of their newspapers in the Portal.

Tennessee Newspaper Digitization Project

The Tennessee Newspaper Digitization Project is a joint effort between the Tennessee State Library and Archives and the University of Tennessee and has been a part of NDNP since 2010. Tennessee keeps up a great blog that not only highlights content such as articles and ads, but also looks at all things newspaper-related such as these recent posts about newsies and typesetting. Check out their whole blog to read these and other great posts!

Stay tuned over the next few weeks as we continue to highlight some of the great work happening across the country by member institutions of the National Digital Newspaper Program. Read Part 1 of this series here.

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SCDNP Spotlight

Here at SCDNP, we are proud to be a member of the National Digital Newspaper Program, a nationwide project that currently supports 36 states and territories digitizing historic newspapers and enhancing the way we see our nation’s history. Like us, many of these statewide projects not only contribute digitized newspaper images to Chronicling America, they also spend time creating added value resources such as LibGuides, podcasts, instructional videos, and blogs (just to name a few!). Over the next several weeks, we thought we would take some time to put the spotlight on some of these great resources from our fellow NDNP partners around the country.

Indiana Historic Newspaper Digitization Project

Hosted by the Indiana State Library, this state project is dedicated to using its digitized historic newspapers to bring history to the “Hoosier masses.” Among other resources, the Indiana project maintains a blog that highlights interesting newspaper articles and stories. One of their more recent blog posts tells about the history of the Indianapolis Leader, the city’s first African-American newspaper which started in 1879. Follow this link to read the blog post about the paper and check out their whole blog to see what all is happening in Indiana.

Vermont Digital Newspaper Project

In 2010, the University of Vermont Libraries began working with several other institutions around their state to make historic newspapers freely accessible as part of NDNP. They, too, keep an active blog that showcases interesting articles and stories from VT newspapers as well as updates on the project and fun things their staff are doing. They recently wrote a great blog post about a popular opera house in Bennington, VT which resulted in this fantastic poster!

NDNP in Ohio

 The Ohio Historical Society has been working since 2008 to contribute content to Chroncling America as part of NDNP. They have created several great resources to help users delve into historic newspapers. One great resource is their list of several subject guides which provide important information and dates as well as suggested search terms for topics widely covered by Ohio newspapers. Additionally, they developed an 11-part video series that covers the basics of how to use Chronicling America as well as advanced tips for getting more out of your searches. You can view the first video, a brief introduction to the series, below: 

Stay tuned over the next few weeks as we continue to highlight some of the great work happening across the country by member institutions of the National Digital Newspaper Program.

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The Heart of the Grand Strand: Myrtle Beach

The summer is in full swing and many are making plans to stick their toes in the sand with the sound of crashing waves in the background (or at least dreaming of it).  Hitting the beach is a common getaway during the summer months and many know that one of the most popular tourist destinations along the East Coast for beach-goers is right here in South Carolina: Myrtle Beach.  Seeing several million visitors each year, Myrtle Beach sits at the heart of the Grand Strand and boasts an array of tourist attractions in addition to its sandy beaches.

In our lifetime it seems Myrtle Beach has always been the epitome of a beach destination; however, for all its popularity and success, Myrtle Beach has a relatively short history that dates back to right before the turn of the 20th century.

An aerial view of Myrtle Beach circa 1940. (via WPA Photograph Collection, South Caroliniana Library)

Situated in Horry County, the Myrtle Beach area remained uninhabited and unchanged for most of its early life. Due to its remote location, few Europeans attempted to colonize the area. It wasn’t until the 1880’s that the location began to see some settlement activity when the Burroughs & Collins Company out of Conway decided to buy land in the area for timber and set up a logging camp. Employees at the camp headed to the nearby beach on their days off. Additionally, the company built a railroad from Conway to the coastline in order to extract the timber. Once the railroad was in place and word spread of access to the coast, development in the area quickly picked up.

Initially the location didn’t have a formal name, and locals simply referred to the new train stop as New Town (perhaps in contrast to nearby Conway’s nickname of Old Town). A contest was eventually held for people to originate a name.  The winning contestant drew inspiration from the popular plant in the area, the wax myrtle, and the name Myrtle Beach was born.

The “Personal” section of the Marlboro Democrat (Bennettsville, S.C.) mentions a family vacationing at the beach in 1903.

Aside from the business potential, the Burroughs & Collins Company realized the possible tourist potential in this new area. In 1901 they built the area’s first hotel, the Seaside Inn.  A bathhouse and pavilion shortly followed. The company also began selling beachfront properties for twenty-five dollars. Throughout the summer months of the early 1900’s, the mention of Myrtle Beach in local newspapers quickly rose as families began traveling there for recreation and relaxation. The area soon became a popular destination spot, especially for those living in nearby South Carolina towns who could easily travel to the beach on a short train ride.  As early as 1902, the Watchman and Southron (Sumter, S.C.) included Myrtle Beach (via Conway) under their “Week-End Rates From Sumter to Popular Summer Resorts.” Advertisements for hotels also begin to appear in papers around the state, enticing tourists to come and stay on the “Finest Strand on the Atlantic Seaboard.”

By the 1920’s, other developers saw the opportunity in the growing seaside town and began to further develop the area with hotels and golf courses, all aimed at vacationers. Myrtle Beach became a popular spot, seeing even conventions and conferences come to town such as ones for the South Carolina Press Association and the [South Carolina] State Dental Association.

An article in the Watchman and Southron (Sumter, S.C.) draws attention to the upcoming South Carolina Press Association convention in Myrtle Beach in 1922.

A crowd enjoys the shoreline at Myrtle Beach. (via WPA Photograph Collection, South Caroliniana Library)

Although F. G. Burroughs (of Burroughs and Collins Company) had been the first to see the business potential in the area, it had also been his dream to see a resort town on the East Coast halfway between Miami and New York. After his death in 1897, his sons carried out his plan, developing the area and turning Myrtle Beach into one of the most popular seaside destinations in the country.

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New News for the Newspapers!

We are very excited to let you know about several new developments with our program!

  • First off, we are thrilled to announce that we have been awarded additional funding from the National Endowment for Humanities to continue as a partner in the National Digital Newspaper Program for a third grant cycle. This means that over the next two years, we will be bringing you even more South Carolina titles and newspaper pages! We cannot thank NEH enough for allowing us to continue this great work we love doing, and we are so happy to keep working with them, the Library of Congress, and our fellow NDNP partners across the country. We are also pleased that Connecticut, Florida, Idaho, and Mississippi will be joining the program and will start contributing content over the next year. To learn more about the recent awards granted by NEH, read their recent press release here: http://ow.ly/nzVm2
  • Secondly, we have sent off our last batch of newspaper pages to the Library of Congress for this second grant cycle. Over the last two years, we have digitized 100, 323 pages. While most of these are already available in Chronicling America, the entirety will be available by the end of the year once this last batch is processed by LC.

    Laura, Metadata and Outreach Specialist, places the last batch of digitized newspaper pages in the mail to the Library of Congress.

  • Thirdly, the Library of Congress updated Chronicling America this week and the site now boasts over 6.6 million newspapers pages and over 1,000 titles from across the country.  Several new South Carolina titles were added including ones from the Newberry, Pickens, and Winnsboro areas among others. View this list to see all 58 titles from S. C. now available for viewing: http://ow.ly/nzVbd
  • Lastly, as we look to the future, we hope to find new sources of funding outside of NEH to continue digitizing historic newspapers from around the state. Our partnership with NEH and LC has built a fantastic foundation for making these invaluable newspapers more widely available to the public, but our work thus far has only accounted for a small percentage of the numerous South Carolina newspaper titles. For only $1 a page, we can continue digitizing newspapers and making them freely available. If you have titles you would like to see, please consider helping us find additional funding avenues. Feel free to contact our team by email or phone if you have any questions or would like more information.

Contact Info:
Virginia Pierce, Project Manager, piercev@mailbox.sc.edu
Laura Blair, Metadata & Outreach Specialist, blairla@mailbox.sc.edu
(803)777-0735 

We thank everyone who plays a part in this great program from those who fund us to those who listen to our presentations to those who surf the pages in Chronicling America (and all those in between!). We are excited to keep moving forward!

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Last Man Standing: The Search for the Oldest Revolutionary Veteran

By the mid-1800s, the reality began to set in that the number of Revolutionary War survivors was quickly diminishing. As people began inquiring about the remaining veterans still living across the country, many newspapers took to the task of finding out exactly who was left of those who had bravely fought in the country’s war for independence. Throughout the next few decades, newspaper writers used several means to gather information on the surviving veterans including researching pension records, printing inquiries in papers, and simple word of mouth. Although none of these methods were error-proof, they did shine some light on the fast-fading era of revolutionary heroes.

The Daily Phoenix (Columbia, S.C.) reported in July 1865 on what was believed to be the only four remaining veterans of the Revolutionary War.

In 1843, a list circulated in newspapers throughout the country of over 100 surviving Revolutionary War veterans. A little over twenty years later, in July 1865, the Daily Phoenix out of Columbia, S.C. printed a small paragraph stating that according to pension records, only four soldiers from the Revolutionary War remained alive. The write-up included the soldiers’ names, dates of birth, and potential whereabouts. Just over a year later, in October 1866, the Daily Phoenix printed the death notice of a man (not mentioned in the previous article) who had fought in the war. And by December 1866, the paper had received word that another soldier who had not been previously listed was also still alive. However, by February of 1867, the death notice written for Samuel Downing presumed that with his passing no other veterans “who actually bore arms” in the war survived. In 1869, the Daily Phoenix printed a conclusive article stating that there were no longer any soldiers on the pension list (there were, however, many widows and children still recorded).

A photograph of Samuel Downing who was thought to be the last Revolutionary War veteran at the time of his death in 1867. (via americanrevolution.org)

Over the next couple of years, newspapers reported that more veterans were still living who had not been previously recorded on the pension rolls.  In 1870, the Anderson Intelligencer wrote about John Kitts, a Revolutionary soldier who had recently been received by the President and members of Congress in recognition of his service to the country. In 1871, the Daily Phoenix included a brief paragraph stating that two more soldiers were alive, but only one, D. F. Bateman, was on the pension list.

In 1871, the Daily Phoenix (Columbia, S.C.) prints that another two veterans remain alive.

Around this same time, a newspaper reporter from Birmingham inquired with the London Times to see if any British veterans remained. In June 1869, the Anderson Intelligencer published the reporter’s findings which stated that a veteran who had served as a drummer boy in the war was still alive.

As the numbers dwindled of those who actively fought, focus turned toward others who had some sort of connection to or memory of the war.  In 1868, the Anderson Intelligencer reported on an African-American man known as Old Father Robinson living in Detroit. Robinson had been born on the plantation of a Colonel in 1753 in Maryland. When the Colonel went to serve in the Revolutionary War, Robinson served alongside him as his bodyguard and was present for Cornwallis’ surrender at Yorktown which ended the war.

The Anderson Intelligencer (Anderson Court House, S.C.) reports in 1884 on the surviving widows.

There were also many widows and children of soldiers still living and wives of soldiers could continue collecting their husbands’ pensions from the government even after their passing. In 1884, the Anderson Intelligencer reported that 82 widows remained on the pension lists. In 1890, the Keowee Courier stated that only 25 were still alive. And by 1899, only 5 widows from the pension list were known to still be alive. As pointed out in the article, over 115 years had passed since the end of the war but since many older veterans had married younger women, the government was still paying pensions even a century later.

Using the newspapers alone, it becomes clear that conclusively finding the “last man standing” from the Revolutionary War is not as easy as it may seem. The topic is still contested today of just who was the last surviving veteran of the war. Try searching Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers to locate more articles about survivors of the Revolutionary War. Use a combination of words such as “revolution,” “veteran,” “pension,” or “widow” to locate different results.  Let us know in the comments below if you locate anything of interest!

 

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