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

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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Using Historic Newspapers for Genealogical Research

Historic newspapers are valuable resources for genealogical research.  Rich with all types of information, newspapers can be useful in locating material regarding families and ancestors.  19th and 20th century newspapers devoted a lot of their print space to local and state events.  Social occasions, business advertisements, marriage announcements, real estate transfers, and death notices are a few examples of the many types of information that can be found within historic newspapers.

Many newspapers included a “Local and Personal” section like this one from the Keowee Courier (Pickens Court House, S.C.). Among other things, these sections detailed social events, meetings, and travel for the local community.

Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers has made researching newspapers much easier.  Long gone are the days of indexing names in newspapers on microfilm; with Chronicling America, not only can research be conducted at the convenience of a personal computer (and for free!), these digitized newspaper images are full-text searchable as well as downloadable.

Before diving in to the over 6 million newspaper pages made available on the site, here are a few things to keep in mind when conducting genealogical research with historic newspapers:

1. Try searching variations of names.

Oftentimes, full names are not printed in historic newspapers in the same way they are today.  Men’s first names are sometimes shortened (i.e., William is printed as Wm.) or only initials are used (i.e., William Jonathan Taylor is printed as W.J. Taylor).  In some cases, married women are listed under their husband’s name (i.e., Mrs. William Taylor).  Additionally, the spelling of many family surnames has changed over time.  With these in mind, do not be afraid to search variations of first and last names to see what kind of results turn up.

This listing of candidacy announcements in the Edgefield Advertiser (Edgefield, S.C.) shows the different ways names can be listed as well as the possibility for misspellings.

This article in the Watchman and Southron (Sumter, S.C.) illustrates how surnames can be spelled in different ways even within the same article.

2. Be aware of historic terminology.

Language changes over time, so it is important to understand that some terms considered commonplace today were not used when these newspapers were printed.  In the same respect, many terms used then have now become obsolete.  For example, searching for a marriage announcement may not produce many results if using the terms “marriage” or “wedding” as these words were not always used; try including older words such as “nuptials” or “hymeneal” in conjunction with a family name for possible results.  When you do locate results, take note of the terms used for use in later searches.

3. Limit the date range to narrow the results.

When searching for a specific event or person, try altering the date range by using the “Advanced Search” tab.  Dates can be limited to a range of years or to a set of specific dates.  The database of newspapers in Chronicling America covers 87 years, so even if the exact date is unknown, narrowing the search to a five-year, ten-year, or even twenty-year period will narrow the results.

4. Be patient.

Research takes time.  While Chronicling America makes historic newspapers much more accessible than ever before, the research process still requires time and patience.  Although every newspaper page is run through OCR (Optical Character Recognition) technology to enable keyword searching, this process is not 100% accurate meaning errors will occur.  Additionally, the Chronicling America database is continually growing and evolving; new pages and titles are added on a regular basis along with new states contributing content.  A search that produces limited or no results may generate more once new content is added.

5. Keep up with what you find.

When doing any type of research, it is important to document relevant findings and results.  Within Chronicling America, there are several ways to keep up with pages or articles of interest.

  • Persistent link: each newspaper page has a persistent link listed underneath the viewer; copy and save this link in order to return to that exact page.
  • Clip image: when viewing a newspaper page, an icon in the upper right-hand corner of the toolbar features a pair of scissors. This will “clip” the page as currently seen in the viewer. This is helpful to capture headlines, short articles, images, and advertisements. A great feature with clipping images is that it also keeps the persistent link and other citation information with it.
  • PDF: along the toolbar of the page viewer is a “PDF” icon; clicking this opens up the entire current newspaper page in PDF format.  Right-clicking on this PDF image allows for saving the whole page to a desktop or flash drive.

Have you used Chronicling America for genealogical research? What kind of results did you find? What other tips would you give researchers for using this database?

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From Socialization to Social Change: Women’s Clubs of South Carolina

Throughout the 1800s, women in the United States began to push the societal boundaries placed upon them by moving outside of the home.  Women started to become more outspoken and organized, thus making them more visible.  Even before the Civil War, women began campaigning for the right to vote and advocating for the antislavery movement.  The Civil War brought further progression as women took on various types of war work, further expanding their roles.  In the aftermath of the war, organized clubs quickly became an outlet for many women in South Carolina.

An announcement in the Keowee Courier on November 11, 1920 for an upcoming meeting of the Once-a-Week Club, a women’s club in Seneca.

Initially, many women’s clubs were channels for socialization; it was a time for women to be out of the home and among other women who shared similar thoughts and experiences.  Women also used the time for intellectual improvement, dedicating much of their meetings to continued education.  Focusing on literature, history, and arts, many of these women met under the title of literary clubs.  Through the socialization and study aspects, their main purpose was self-improvement.

While studying was originally thought to be simply a method of self-improvement, it also helped connect club women to the larger world around them.  They quickly saw their potential, recognizing that their organizations could not only be a means of improving their own lives, but could also affect the lives of those around them.  Clubs gradually moved from just reading and discussing social issues to actively participating in the communities around them.  From social events to philanthropic activities, organized women’s clubs became an avenue for women to enact change and reform.

In South Carolina, several small women’s clubs met on a regular basis in communities all across the state by the end of the 19th century.  In 1898, many of the local clubs joined together to form the South Carolina Federation of Women’s Clubs (SCFWC) as a part of the national movement known as the General Federation of Women’s Clubs.  Responding to the call of Mrs. J. H. Adams, president of the Once-a-Week Club out of Seneca, representatives from nineteen organizations met in June to create the SCFWC, a federation that was “to bring together the several women’s clubs of the State for mutual benefit.”  Following the first meeting, the Anderson Intelligencer printed a detailed account of the event.

A call from Mrs. J. H. Adams appeared in the Anderson Intelligencer on March 3, 1898. The proposed club federation would “uplift women socially and intellectually.”

Through the federation, women’s clubs could participate in statewide activities, bringing events to their local communities.  One such event was the traveling library.  Members from each participating club donated books to create a library that would travel between clubs across the state.  Modeled after the efforts of women’s clubs in other states, the traveling library, although administered by the club women, was open to the public of each town that hosted it.  In 1899, the Keowee Courier printed a letter from Mrs. Coleman, president of the SCFWC, about the idea of the traveling library.

The New-York Tribune highlights the philanthropic efforts of the SCFWC in August 1902.

Other philanthropic activities the members of SCFWC took on included providing scholarships for young women to attend college and a traveling exhibit of handmade arts and crafts.  Each local club continued to meet on a regular basis, and the SCFWC met annually in different cities around the state, an event that was often written about in the state’s papers.  By the 1920s, they were holding annual conventions that lasted two to three days.  Through their local organizations, and with the support of the statewide federation, women advocated within their communities for many issues from healthcare for children to education for young women.  As the clubs gained traction in the early 20th century, many women began using their club participation as a platform to fight for social reform on larger scale, advocating for equality through the passage of a suffrage amendment among many other issues.

An article about the annual convention of the SCFWC appears in an Arizona newspaper, the Weekly Journal-Miner, in 1911.

While individual clubs were often made up of women from similar backgrounds and social statuses, diverse populations of women were represented in clubs throughout the country.  An influential group in South Carolina, black women formed their own clubs and eventually followed in similar footsteps to the SCFWC by creating an umbrella organization of African American women’s clubs.  Forming the South Carolina Federation for Colored Women’s Clubs (SCFCWC) in 1909, these women advocated for gender equality as well as civil rights and racial equality.  In addition to supporting the fight for women’s suffrage, they also campaigned for issues relevant to the black population of the state such as better education, integration of schools, and ending racially-motivated violence.

Cayton’s Weekly, a newspaper out of Seattle, Washington, highlights the efforts and activities of the SCFCWC in their September 21, 1918 issue.

One particular cause the SCFCWC fought for in South Carolina was better health and sanitation for the state’s African American community. In 1915, the Manning Times printed an article describing a speech given at a meeting on the importance of promoting health knowledge.  The SCFCWC also held annual conventions when delegates from member clubs would meet and discuss important topics and decide on possible activities for the upcoming year.

A headline in the Southern Indicator, an African American paper out of Columbia, about the 1915 annual convention of the SCFCWC.  Click the picture to read the entire article.

Included in the “Local News” section of the Southern Indicator is a mention of some of the delegates who attended the 1915 convention.

Despite success in social reform, membership and enthusiasm for women’s clubs slowly fell off in the latter portion of the 20th century.  However, the dedication of club women in South Carolina truly provided much needed assistance and advancements to the population of the state.  Through the work of their clubs, these women were able to ensure a powerful place in the landscape of their communities, states, and the nation.

The historic newspapers in Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers are a wealth of information about women’s clubs in South Carolina.  Try narrowing the search to include only papers from South Carolina and search for individual club names such as the Once-a-Week Club, the Tuesday Afternoon Club, or any others.  Also using variations of the terms “state federation of women’s clubs” or “South Carolina federation of women’s clubs” when searching through “all states” will bring up results showing how the federation’s news spread across the country.

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5 Tips for Undergraduate Research in Chronicling America

The South Carolina Digital Newspaper Program (SCDNP) here at USC makes historic newspapers in South Carolina freely accessible and full-text searchable through a partnership with the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the Library of Congress (LC). We are part of the National Digital Newspaper Program, in which we contribute digitized newspaper content to a free, online database, Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers.

What can you expect to find in Chronicling America?

  • žLocal historical events, žSouth Carolina History, žUnited States History, and some international history.
  • Researching the Civil War, Reconstruction, World War One, Women’s History, African-American History? Read contemporary articles that were published as events happened.
  • Find articles on your topic in other newspapers published in 31 other states and D.C., and in over 6 million newspaper pages all in one full text searchable database.
  • Think there’s just history in Chronicling America? Not so. The types of information you might find in Chronicling America is expansive. Majors in disciplines such as Journalism, English, Political Science, Business, Education, History, Theater, Art, Cinema, Anthropology, and others can find great primary source information on their topics in Chronicling America.


Here are a few tips to get you started using the Library of Congress’ Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers and historic SC newspapers in the South Carolina Digital Newspaper Program.

 5 Tips for Research in Chronicling America

1. You can find the South Carolina Digital Newspaper Program and Chronicling America online a few different ways.

  • Look for Chronicling America: Historic America Newspapers in Article Databases. Find it alphabetically or by looking at databases under the categories for History or Newspapers.
  • Of course, just googling “chronicling america” or “south carolina digital newspapers” will also work.


Not sure where to begin?

Use these program resources to help you get started with your research.

SCDNP LibGuide is a great place to get started if you want to research SC history. There are SC History Topic Guides on the Civil War, African-American History, Reconstruction and more; an updated list of digitized newspaper titles, Helpful Tips for Searching Chronicling America, and a historic timeline of newspaper articles to give you an idea of what you might find in the newspapers.


Topics in Chronicling America, which covers American history topics, is another great place to get started. You can peruse topics guides on particular subjects and read historic newspaper articles on almost 100 topics: like Butch Cassidy and the Hole in the Wall Gang, Early Cinema, the Chicago Black Sox Scandal, the Emancipation Proclamation, Yosemite National Park to name just a few.


2.  Developing Good Search Skills to Use Chronicling America


3. Organizing content you find in ChronAm as you perform research.

  • Create a folder on your Desktop, and save articles to that folder.
  • Make a word document and copy and save the persistent links to be used in citations when you are writing your paper.
  • You can download an entire page as a pdf and save it for later reading.
  • Use the Clip Image feature when you want to zoom in on a particular image or article on a page. You can then download it to your folder.


4. How to properly cite content used in Chronicling America.

Newspaper content in Chronicling America is copyright-free because content pre-dates the 1923 copyright law. However, although all newspaper content included in Chronicling America is copyright-free, don’t forget that you still need to cite sources you use in your research. Here are two examples, using Chicago/Turabian and MLA citation styles, that you might follow when citing an article you have found in Chronicling America. Persistent links are provided on each newspaper page that will always take you back to the content, if you save it while doing your research.


Chicago/Turabian citation example

“The Duties of the Hour.” South Carolina Leader, October 7, 1865. From the Library of Congress website Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers,


MLA citation example

“The Duties of the Hour.” South Carolina Leader 7 Oct. 1865. From the Library of Congress website Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers, 26 Mar. 2013.


5. Evaluating Chronicling America as a good source for information.

  • Although newspapers are quality primary sources, keep in mind that the content is not always objective, but can be biased and subjective based on the writer’s point of view, the newspaper’s political views at the time, and the historical context in which an article is written.
  • Don’t just take our word for it. Ask yourself the same questions you would for any other online resource: who is the organization that makes Chronicling America available? is the site updated regularly? Why does the Library of Congress makes this info available? Are there any pop-ups and advertisements on the site? Is the information on the site free? Does Chronicling America check out as a quality source for information to you?

Need more help? Contact us and we would be glad to give you some more pointers and guidance on researching the newspapers. You can find our contact information on our SCDNP webpage under Contacts,

You can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter (@UofSCDigColl) and find out the latest in digitized collections at the university.

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Extra! Extra! Chronicling America Reaches Six Million Pages!

As of Monday, March 18, 2013, the team at the Library of Congress has made some enormous improvements to Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers.  Adding over 800,000 new pages to the database, the site now holds over 6 million pages of freely available and full-text searchable historic newspapers from 1836-1922!  This update includes new content from states already represented on the site, papers from new states (Indiana and North Dakota), and newspapers in French and Spanish from Louisiana, Arizona, and New Mexico.  The update contains around 33,000 new pages from South Carolina, including some additions to titles already on the site as well as some brand new titles.  It also includes the first content from South Carolina to predate 1860.

Front page of the June 14, 1922 issue of The Manning Times, a new South Carolina title added to Chronicling America.


Here are the most recent additions to South Carolina newspapers:

Edgefield Advertiser (Edgefield, S.C.), 1836-1863
This expands upon the run of the Edgefield Advertiser that was already available on Chronicling America from 1863 to 1922.

The Laurens Advertiser (Laurens, S.C.), 1913-1922
This expands upon the run of The Laurens Advertiser that was already available on Chronicling America from 1885 to 1913.

The Manning Times (Manning, Clarendon County, S.C.), 1885-1922

The Pickens Sentinel (Pickens, S.C.), 1913-1922

The Sumter Banner (Sumterville, S.C.), 1846-1855

The Fairfield Herald (Winnsboro, S.C.), 1866-1876

The News and Herald (Winnsboro, S.C.), weekly edition, 1876-1881

The News and Herald (Winnsboro, S.C.), triweekly edition, 1877-1900

The upgrade to Chronicling America also brings about some enhancements to the layout and functions of the website.  Two noticeable changes can be seen when looking at a single newspaper page.  The viewer now includes a thumbnail of the newspaper page in the upper right hand corner; when zooming in and out on a page, this thumbnail image helps provide further navigation.  Beneath the image, a full citation for that particular page is listed, including the page’s persistent link.

This screenshot shows some of the enhancements added to Chronicling America including a thumbnail viewer and full citation.

Many other changes were put into place including additional support for viewing the site on iPhones and iPads as well as lots of upgrades behind the scenes.  Be sure to head over to Chronicling America and see all the new improvements for yourself! Which of these new South Carolina titles are you most excited about? Do you think some of these additions will help you when using the site? Let us know in the comments section!


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Matilda Evans

In honor of Black History Month, SCDNP looks at influential people and events in the African American community of South Carolina throughout the month of February.

At a time when both women and African Americans were prohibited from doing many things, Matilda Evans never let these two obstacles stop her from accomplishing her goals. Born and raised in 1872 in Aiken, South Carolina, Evans attended Schofield Normal and Industrial School (a school dedicated to the education of black students) as a child. Encouraged by the school’s founder, Martha Schofield, Evans went on to study at Oberlin College in Ohio. Developing a strong interest in medicine, Evans left Oberlin prior to graduating and spent time teaching in order to save money to attend medical school. She soon enrolled in the Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania at Philadelphia where she received her Medical Degree in 1897.

Dr. Matilda Evans

The house where Dr. Evans opened her first private practice, located on Taylor Street in Columbia.

Although her original intention had been to practice medicine as a foreign missionary, her time in school helped her to understand the grossly inadequate health care available to the black population of her home state. Upon graduating, Evans moved to Columbia and began her own practice, becoming the first licensed African American female physician in the state. Evans’ achievements overcame many obstacles. During this time, most medical schools did not allow African American students. The medical practice was also largely male dominated, but schools such as WMC, where Evans attended, were attempting to change this standard by educating only women. An article about Evans’ new practice in The Anderson Intelligencer from 1897 relayed the significance that “a woman doctor is somewhat a novelty in this city and a colored one is an unexpected innovation in the medical profession.”

Evans and her hospital is mentioned in the Omaha Daily Bee (Omaha, Neb.), December 13, 1908

Evans is listed under “Physicians” in the 1899 city directory of Columbia (via South Caroliniana Library)

Once in Columbia, Evans began a private practice out of her own home where she treated both white and black patients.  Although rare for the time, Evans’ reputation of professionalism attributed to her large, diverse clientele.  Helping many wealthy white patients, Evans often used the funds received from them to cover the cost of providing free care to poor black patients, especially women and children.  By 1901, Evans established Taylor Lane Hospital and Training School for Nurses, Columbia’s first black-owned hospital (the hospital’s name later changed to St. Luke’s Hospital and Training School for Nurses after the original one was destroyed by a fire in 1911).  Serving as the director until 1918, Evans focused heavily on training African American nurses at her hospital.  At the time, St. Luke’s was only the fourth hospital in the country to also operate as a school for nurses.

The Appeal (Saint Paul, Minn.) writes a brief paragraph about Evans on March 3, 1906

In addition to teaching nurses and treating patients at her hospital, Evans also worked to reach out to her community.  She focused much of her attention into the well-being of black children. Realizing how little health care they were receiving, Evans often paid for checkups out of her own pocket.  Evans took it upon herself to implement regular health examinations in schools and encouraged public schools to employ physicians.  She also strongly advocated preventative medicine, seeing the need to deliver medical information about sanitary habits and other safe health practices directly to the people.  When the Depression caused federal funds to cease for many types of health care, Evans continued to provide those services which included maternity and infant care.  By 1932, Evans opened up a walk-in clinic in Columbia.

Although she never moved from her home state, Evans’ impact reached far beyond the borders of South Carolina.  Newspapers from around the country printed articles about her and her accomplishments, including The San Mateo Item in Florida, The Colfax Gazette in Washington, and The Broad Ax, an African American paper out of Utah.  Her dedication and passion not only made proper health care available to many African Americans for the first time, Evans vastly improved health awareness among the black community.

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Emancipation Day

In honor of Black History Month, SCDNP looks at influential people and events in the African American community of South Carolina throughout the month of February.

On January 1, 1863, the dawn of the third year of a gruesome civil war, President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, declaring “all persons held as slaves” within any state of rebellion from the Union to be “thenceforward, and forever free.” Although this proclamation had many limitations and did not immediately free slaves within the Confederacy, its issuance shifted the goal of the Civil War to explicitly include the abolition of slavery in the United States to the war’s original objective of preserving the Union.

Many newspapers printed the full transcription of the Emancipation Proclamation such as the New-York Daily Tribune (New York, N.Y.), January 3, 1863.

For South Carolina – the first state to secede from the Union, the state upon whose ground the first shots of the war rang out, and the state whose black population was twice that of its white population by 1860 – the Proclamation had both immediate and lasting implications. Unlike other Union-controlled Confederate locations, South Carolina was in no way exempt from the provisions of the Proclamation (border states that never seceded as well as states already under the control of the Union army were not included).

Although it took years for slaves in South Carolina to see full freedom, the impact of the Proclamation started immediately. At Camp Saxton in Port Royal, South Carolina, thousands of African Americans gathered to celebrate Emancipation Day on the very day the Proclamation was issued by President Lincoln. Many traveled far distances to the plantation owned by John Joyner Smith to be a part of the day-long celebration that included speeches, singing, feasting, and above all, the reading of the Emancipation Proclamation. An article in the Cleveland Morning Leader details the events of the occasion. According to this account, the day began with an opening prayer and the performance of an original song composed for the celebration. The Proclamation was read aloud so that all attendees could hear of their new legal status. Many speeches were given and the day concluded with a barbecue of oxen. For many of the celebrators, this was, as the article claims, “the happiest New Year’s day that has ever dawned upon them.”

“Emancipation Day in South Carolina” depicts the first celebration in 1863 (via Library of Congress)

This occasion would start a trend throughout South Carolina and other states as Emancipation Day celebrations continued on through the remainder of the war and into the Reconstruction Era. While the types and sizes of celebrations varied from location to location, they each drew large crowds and gave African Americans the chance to publicly celebrate their freedom. In December 1865, the South Carolina Leader included an announcement regarding the upcoming Emancipation Day celebration in Charleston. A few weeks later, a more detailed account of the ensuing celebration was printed.  A year later, on January 13, 1866, the same newspaper published an article relaying the events of a recent Emancipation Day celebration in Boston, Massachusetts.

The headline of an article detailing Charleston’s upcoming celebration in the South Carolina Leader (Charleston, S.C.), December 23, 1865

An announcement on December 21, 1901 in The People’s Recorder (Columbia, S.C.) for an upcoming Emancipation Day celebration

In some places, Emancipation Day celebrations are still held to honor this day and its meaning. It remains a truly significant event in the history and culture of the African American community.

For further reading:

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Restaurant Week: Restaurants Across the State

One of South Carolina’s newer events is Restaurant Week: a state-wide event held over eleven days that showcases the distinct and exciting restaurant scenes found across the state. As participating restaurants offer special deals during this time, attendees have the opportunity to try new food spots and revisit old favorites. In celebration of Restaurant Week (January 10-20, 2013), SCDNP takes a look at the culinary scene of South Carolina’s past as seen through historic newspapers. In this final installment, SCDNP highlights restaurant advertisements from around the state.

As the trend of eating at restaurants began to take off, advertisements for dining establishments started appearing in newspapers all across the state of South Carolina during the 19th and early 20th centuries.

Charleston’s Old Southern Exchange restaurant advertises its re-opening in The Charleston Daily News (Charleston, S.C.), December 12, 1865

As some of these advertisements show, many restaurants operated in conjunction with other businesses.  Some popular spots, like the Wheeler House in Columbia, were found in hotels and served travelers as well as local residents.  Other restaurants were located under the same roof as groceries, markets, or bakeries.  This offered local customers the option to grab a bite to eat while they shopped for their own cooking ingredients.

This grocer’s advertisement includes a short line about its attached restaurant. Keowee Courier (Pickens Court House, S.C.), April 21, 1898

An advertisement for a restaurant located with a bakery and candy kitchen. Keowee Courier (Pickens Court House, S.C.), December 11, 1907

Early restaurants only provided meals during specific times of the day, but as their popularity grew, many began offering their menus for longer periods of times. Some started advertising that they served food “all day” or emphasized their hours of operation.

The Busy Bee Restaurant includes its hours of operation in The Laurens Advertiser (Laurens, S.C.), June 24, 1908

This restaurant advertises that it serves “meals at all hours” in The Marlboro Democrat (Bennettsville, S.C.), March 16, 1906

Search Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers for other restaurant advertisements in South Carolina newspapers as well as papers from across the country.  And don’t forget to check out Restaurant Week to see what local places are serving up in the event’s last days.

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Restaurant Week: Wheeler House

One of South Carolina’s newer events is Restaurant Week: a state-wide event held over eleven days that showcases the distinct and exciting restaurant scenes found across the state. As participating restaurants offer special deals during this time, attendees have the opportunity to try new food spots and revisit old favorites. In celebration of Restaurant Week (January 10-20, 2013), SCDNP takes a look at the culinary scene of South Carolina’s past as seen through historic newspapers. In this second installment, SCDNP takes an in-depth look at the Wheeler House, a popular hotel and restaurant in Columbia.

Browsing through one of Columbia’s historic papers, The Daily Phoenix, any researcher will be quick to notice the advertisement for the Wheeler House. This ad appears in every issue for one year between January 15, 1873 and January 15, 1874. Located in the heart of Columbia’s downtown on the corner of Main Street and Plain Street (now Hampton Street), the Wheeler House was both a hotel and a restaurant. It was not uncommon that a restaurant would be attached to another business at the time as the trend of stand-alone restaurants was still in the beginning stages (for more information on the history of restaurants, see the previous blog post). The restaurant at the Wheeler House accommodated several types of people including locals as well as traveling guests staying overnight in the hotel.

When the advertisement for the Wheeler House first appears in The Daily Phoenix, the proprietor of the business, T. M. Pollock, provides a brief description of services offered in conjunction with a sketch of the building. One year later, the advertisement is pared back to only include the sketch, a one-line description, and a price.

Advertisement for the Wheeler House in The Daily Phoenix (Columbia, S.C.), January 15, 1873

Advertisement for the Wheeler House in The Daily Phoenix (Columbia, S.C.), January 15, 1874

While the ad for the Wheeler House appears to stop in the beginning of 1874, its notoriety can still be seen in other advertisements. Several businesses located near the popular spot often use it as a point of reference to describe their whereabouts.  The Wheeler House’s central location in the capital city’s downtown was ideal to attract customers, both local and traveling.

The Grand Central advertises its location as “Under the Wheeler House.” The Daily Phoenix (Columbia, S.C.), March 06, 1874

As discussed in the previous post, many restaurants of this time utilized the availability of local ingredients to create their dishes. While some places would carry staple items each day (such as fresh oysters, shrimp, etc.), many crafted daily menus based off of the accessibility of fresh food items.  A dated menu from the Wheeler House illustrates this concept.

A page from the menu of the Wheeler House dated March 12, 1875. Click on the picture to see the full menu (via South Caroliniana Library and USC Digital Collections).

The Wheeler House continued in operation until 1880 when it became the Grand Central Hotel. Today, the Columbia Marriott Hotel stands on the corner where the Wheeler House once stood.

Stay tuned throughout the rest of the week as SCDNP explores the advertisements of restaurants in other parts of the state.  Restaurant Week continues through Sunday, January 20th, so be sure to check out the deals and visit some local places to eat. 

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Restaurant Week: The Rise of the Restaurant

One of South Carolina’s newer events is Restaurant Week: a state-wide event held over eleven days that showcases the distinct and exciting restaurant scenes found across the state.  As participating restaurants offer special deals during this time, attendees have the opportunity to try new food spots and revisit old favorites.  In celebration of Restaurant Week, SCDNP takes a look at the culinary scene of South Carolina’s past as seen through historic newspapers.  In the first installment, SCDNP explores the history of the restaurant and highlights some located in the state’s capital city.

Although the concept of a “restaurant” seems commonplace in today’s society, this idea originated not too long ago.  For most of history, the thought of eating at an establishment outside of one’s home was typically reserved for travelers; and even then, most people of any wealth often took servants with them to prepare food wherever they stopped, or they stayed and dined with friends and family along the way.  The establishments closest to resembling today’s restaurants originated in France in the mid-1700’s along with the actual term “restaurant.”  While these places appealed mostly to wealthy clientele in the beginning, they established many practices still seen today including a public dining room and a menu offering a choice of meals and beverages.

An advertisement for Congaree Restaurant in The Daily Phoenix (Columbia, S.C.), November 24, 1866

The trend of the restaurant quickly made its way to America with early prevalence in cities of high populations.  Throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, transportation became more accessible and customary thanks to steamships, railways, and eventually automobiles.  These advancements not only changed the way people traveled, but increased the need for dining establishments as eating away from home turned into an experience rather than a necessity. By the 19th century, the term “restaurant” had become a word in the average person’s vocabulary.

Our House Restaurant advertisement, The Daily Phoenix (Columbia, S.C.), November 10, 1868

Advertisement for Stork’s Restaurant, The Daily Phoenix (Columbia, S.C.), February 07, 1873

Columbia, South Carolina was certainly not immune to the rise of the restaurant. Newspaper advertisements for restaurants in the capital city pop up all throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries.  Some restaurants stood alone while many were attached to other businesses, such as markets and groceries.  Still others operated within the confines of a hotel, attracting both local eaters and traveling guests staying overnight.

One would typically find a restaurant’s menu to be no more than a page of dishes that varied on a daily basis because of the accessibility and use of primarily fresh, locally grown ingredients.  Some restaurants, such as the Pollock House, utilized Columbia’s daily newspaper, The Daily Phoenix, to advertise its menu for the day in each issue.  Many independently owned restaurants of today carry on this tradition, using local produce and meats to create daily menus.

The menu for Pollock House in The Daily Phoenix (Columbia, S.C.) on Tuesday, November 27, 1866

The menu for Pollock House in The Daily Phoenix (Columbia, S.C.) on Wednesday, November 28, 1866

Browse through newspapers from South Carolina and other states in Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers to find advertisements and daily menus of restaurants.

Stay tuned throughout the next week as SCDNP explores the advertisements of restaurants in other parts of the state as well as looks in-depth at the Wheeler House, a popular hotel and restaurant in downtown Columbia.  In the meantime, be sure to check out Restaurant Week.


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Schofield Normal and Industrial School

The end of the Civil War ushered in a time of restoration in the Southern part of the United States.  During this era, many people from the Northern part of the country felt the desire to move down South and lend a helping hand.  Martha Schofield was one of these people.

A native Pennsylvanian born into a staunchly abolitionist family, Martha Schofield had spent several years since graduating high school teaching in a Quaker school for African-American students in Philadelphia.  Following the war, she decided to move to the South to expand her teaching efforts and provide education to recently emancipated slaves.  Relocating to South Carolina in 1865, Schofield spent time in a few schools along the coast working with The Freedman’s Bureau.  After suffering from illness, she moved inland to Aiken in 1868; shortly after, Schofield purchased land and opened her own school.  Called the Schofield Normal and Industrial School, it quickly became known for its rigorous academic standards and training provided for African-American students.

“Training Colored Teachers,” a brief article in the Staunton Spectator (Staunton, VA), July 17, 1883

Like the school’s name suggests, its strict academic program offered the traditional “normal school” training to prepare students to become teachers and “industrial school” training that included teaching students occupational skills.  Schofield’s curriculum included basic reading and writing skills for all students; in addition, boys learned agricultural, carpentry, and blacksmith skills, and girls studied home economic skills such as sewing and cooking.  As the school grew in both size and status, it expanded to contain dormitories, a chapel, a library, and a farm among other amenities.  In March of 1922, the Keowee Courier reported on a disastrous fire in one of the boys’ dormitories which burned it to the ground; luckily no fatalities were suffered.

“Narrow Escape Pupils and Teachers” details the fire at the school in 1922. Keowee Courier (Pickens Court House, S.C.), March 08, 1922

A photo of Verlenden Hall, the girls’ dormitory, in 1909. The People’s Recorder (Columbia, S.C.), September 11, 1909

Schofield’s influence reached far beyond her school and even the borders of Aiken.  Schofield took it upon herself to write letters to newspapers around the country in hopes that her school and its efforts would gain attention.  A letter to the editor of the New-York Tribune penned by Schofield appears in its February 11, 1894 paper.  Schofield eventually began traveling to different parts of the country to speak about the success of her teaching.  In 1896, she is mentioned in the “City News in Brief” section of The San Francisco Call for speaking in town the prior day.  Her students also made an impact throughout the state and elsewhere.  One of the more famous Schofield graduates, Matilda Evans, gained recognition throughout the country for becoming South Carolina’s first female African-American physician.

The Schofield Normal and Industrial School continued to serve black students through the 1950’s even as it joined the Aiken school system in 1953 as a public high school.  With integration in the 1960’s, the school became a middle school for Aiken and has served in that capacity under Schofield’s name ever since.  The bell tower from the original school building still sits on the school’s property today.

Be sure to search Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers for more articles and references to both Martha Schofield and the Schofield Normal and Industrial School.  More can also be learned about the school by researching the Schofield Normal and Industrial School collection housed in the Manuscripts division at the South Caroliniana Library here at the University of South Carolina.


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The Eleventh Hour of the Eleventh Day of the Eleventh Month: Remembering Armistice Day

Although the United States had only been directly involved for a year and a half, World War I had been going on for over four years by the time Germany signed a final armistice ending the war on November 11, 1918.  The armistice notably went into effect at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month that year.  Newspapers in South Carolina as well as the rest of the country excitedly announced the close of the devastating global war with headlines covering their front pages.

Front page of The Watchman and Southron (Sumter, S.C.), November 13, 1918

Front page of The Ogden Standard (Ogden City, Utah), November 11, 1918

A year later, on November 11, 1919, President Woodrow Wilson declared that the day would be observed in remembrance and recognition of the significant event that took place only one year prior.  Known as Armistice Day, newspapers across the country printed Wilson’s remarks regarding the day and its meaning.

“Today is Armistice Day: Message of President Wilson,” The Mt. Sterling Advocate (Mt. Sterling, KY), November 11, 1919

Other newspapers at the time detailed events and celebrations taking place for Armistice Day, including parades, dances, and dinners for servicemen.  The Garden Island featured an article on its all-day celebration which included a parade, several races, and other sporting events to make up the “largest and best sporting event ever held on the island of Kauai.”  Service men were encouraged to wear their uniforms and participate in the events.

“Armistice Day to Be Observed Here,” The Times-Herald (Burns, Harney County, OR), November 08, 1919

“Armistice Day Programme,” Perrysburg Journal (Perrysburg, Wood Co., Ohio), November 06, 1919

In 1938, Congress passed legislation making Armistice Day a federal holiday to be observed on November 11.  By the end of World War II, the idea grew that this day should not only honor those who served in WWI, but all armed service veterans.  It was under this notion that in 1954 President Dwight Eisenhower signed a bill into law establishing that the holiday’s name would be changed to Veterans Day.

For more historic newspaper articles about Veterans Day and its origin, be sure to check out Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers.  We would love to hear about anything you find!


Related Articles in Chronicling America:
Germany Has Surrendered,” New York Tribune (New York, N.Y.), November 11, 1918.
German Surrender Unconditional,” Keowee Courier (Pickens Court House, S.C.), November 13, 1918.
Armistice Day Anniversary Celebrated,” El Paso Herald (El Paso, TX), November 11, 1919.
Armistice Day, Year of Peace, Observed Here,” The Washington Herald (Washington, D.C.), November 12, 1919.
Pullman Observes Armistice Day,” The Pullman Herald (Pullman, WA), November 14, 1919.
Armistice Day Celebration Here To-Morrow,” The Bourbon News (Paris, KY), November 10, 1922.



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The Election of 1912

100 years ago this week, people were hitting the polls in what some historians consider one of the most influential and memorable presidential elections of United States history.

Unlike what we are used to today, the 1912 election boasted not two but four candidates representing four different political parties: Republican nominee William H. Taft, Democratic nominee Woodrow Wilson, Progressive nominee Theodore Roosevelt, and Socialist nominee Eugene V. Debs.

Incumbent President William H. Taft had spent his previous four years in the White House gaining the trust and eventual leadership of the conservative wing of the Republican Party by advocating for business leaders over labor unions, high tariffs on imported goods, and the appointment of federal and state judges.  At the same time, former President Theodore Roosevelt was also expanding his leadership role within the Republican Party over the progressive wing, who favored labor unions and the popular election of federal and state judges.  The growing rift between the two wings came to a head during June of 1912 at the Republican National Convention in Chicago when Taft took the party’s presidential nomination.  Upset by this, Roosevelt asked his supporters to not only leave the convention, but the party as well.  The June 22 issue of The Watchman and Southron aptly portrayed the recent events, running two articles side by side declaring Taft’s nomination and Roosevelt’s split.  Similar articles appeared next to each other on the front page of the Laurens Advertiser the next week.

“Teddy Roosevelt Quits” and “Second Round for Taft,” articles in The watchman and southron (Sumter, S.C.), June 26, 1912

The progressive Republicans who walked out on the convention decided to form their own national political party, the Progressive Party (often referred to as the “Bull Moose Party”).  Roosevelt, of course, would serve as the party’s nominee in the presidential election.

Less than a month later, the Democratic National Convention took place in Baltimore and proved to be a tight race among the party’s leaders.  An article in the Keowee Courier detailed the tough race which included “a fist fight, numerous heated altercations between delegates and rough play.”  Although the Speaker of the House, Champ Clark, seemed to be the front-runner, it was with the last minute support of William Jennings Bryan that New Jersey Governor Woodrow Wilson eventually pulled ahead to take the party’s nomination.  Articles ran in the Edgefield Advertiser as well as The Watchman and Southron declaring Wilson the Democratic candidate.

In his fourth presidential race, Eugene V. Debs represented the Socialist Party of America.  A small party mainly representing ethnic communities and industrial cities, Debs’ presidential campaign was largely a symbolic gesture with hopes to garner more support for the party and encourage action of its members at the local level.

After campaigning vigorously, the moment of truth for the candidates came on November 5.  With the split in the Republican Party, their divided strength allowed Wilson to surpass Taft and Roosevelt as well as Debs.  Wilson won the election with 41.8% of the popular vote and 435 electoral votes.  Roosevelt came in second, making this the only election in which a third-party candidate received more electoral and popular votes than a major-party candidate.  Taft polled closely behind Roosevelt, and Debs came in fourth, still garnering almost 1,000,000 popular votes.  Both the Keowee Courier and the Laurens Advertiser proclaimed the victory of Wilson, who would use his administration to push progressive legislative reforms such as the Clayton Antitrust Act and the Federal Trade Commission among many others.

“Big Victory for Wilson!” an article in the Keowee courier (Pickens Court House, S.C.), November 6, 1912

With digitized newspapers spanning 1836 – 1922, content in Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers covers not only the election of 1912, but 21 other presidential elections.  The Library of Congress has already put together subject guides for the presidential elections of 1892, 1896, 1900, 1904, 1908, and 1912.  These guides include important dates, suggested search terms, and even highlight some interesting articles about each election from across the country.  Which historic presidential elections do you consider to be memorable or influential?  Can you find any articles about them in Chronicling America?  Let us know!

“Victory!” in the Laurens advertiser (Laurens, S.C.), November 6, 1912


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Forget Your Troubles and Come to the Fair

October is here and for many South Carolinians, it’s the best time of year: the air starts to feel just a touch cooler, football season is well underway, and one of the state’s biggest events takes place.  That’s right, the South Carolina State Fair.  While many are familiar with the fair’s blue ribbon pies, exciting rides, and deep-fried, well, everything, most may not realize the rich history behind the fair, which was organized over 140 years ago.

An advertisement for the fair appears in the Keowee Courier (Pickens Court House, S.C.), October 18, 1905.

In 1869, the State Agricultural and Mechanical Society of South Carolina organized a statewide fair as the City of Columbia began rebuilding the society’s convention buildings.  Although the buildings had previously been used for smaller fairs and conventions by the society, the structures took quite a hit during the Civil War when they were occupied by Confederate troops, used to manufacture munitions of war, and finally destroyed during General Sherman’s march through the city.  In the late 1860s, in the aftermath of the war, new fair buildings rose from the ground and so did the spirits of the South Carolinians, especially in regards to the state fair.  By the fall of 1869, articles appeared in papers across the state urging readers to attend the upcoming fair, which would now represent the entire state of South Carolina and its people.

“The Fair of the South Carolina Agricultural and Mechanical Society,” an article in the Daily Phoenix (Columbia, S.C.), November 9, 1869.

The excitement of the statewide fair spread quickly, and it eventually outgrew its original home, relocating in 1904 to its current location on Bluff Road.  Papers from around the state ran articles highlighting the brand new fairgrounds in the capital city.  The Watchman and Southron from Sumter went into great detail about the new location and buildings, claiming there was now “room for everything and everybody.”  Another article published in The Watchman and Southron described the modern improvements fair-goers would experience as well as the exciting events that would take place.  This same article was later distributed throughout the state and published for readers of The Anderson Intelligencer, the Keowee Courier, and The Laurens Advertiser.

As the fair grew in popularity, more and more people from all corners of the state came to Columbia to take part in the festivities.  Papers advertised special travel rates and arrangements in order to accommodate the fair attendees from various South Carolina cities and towns.  Railroad lines expanded their run time, added stops, and offered reduced prices for passengers heading to and from the fair.  In 1911, the Edgefield Advertiser offered the option of an airplane flight that ran twice a day to the capital city for fair goers.

An advertisement in the Edgefield Advertiser (Edgefield, S.C.), October 18, 1911.

Much more information about the early years of the famous South Carolina State Fair can be found in the historic newspapers on Chronicling America.  Try searching on your own with variations of the terms “South Carolina State Fair” and “State Agricultural and Mechanical Society of South Carolina,” limit your search to South Carolina newspapers and try “state fair,” or try your own search terms.  If you locate something interesting about the fair, post us a link to the article and tell us what you found!

Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers,
History of the Fair, South Carolina State Fair,

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Kudzu: The Vine that Ate the South

Wow this miracle plant grows 3 feet a day! Where can I get one? An article from The Ocala banner (Ocala, Fla.), 1909

It is hard to imagine driving down a highway in the south and not seeing swaths of kudzu carpeting eroded gullies and forests. Although one would think it a permanent feature of the southern landscape, the kudzu vine was not introduced in the United States until the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia. Japan showcased the kudzu plant in an elaborate garden exhibit in which it was promoted as an aromatic ornamental.

Let me call you sweetheart under the old kudzu vine, an article in the Fair Play (St. Genevieve, MO), 1919

Kudzu appears in numerous articles after 1876 recommended as a shade vine to grow on arbors and porches. By 1901, sophisticated city gardeners were contemplating adding kudzu to their gardens in places like Washington, D.C. An advertisement was found in The suburban gardener (Washington, D.C.).

Cows and Horses Can't Get Enough of It: an article in The Pensacola journal (Pensacola, Fla.), circa 1908.

Kudzu really seems to take off in the early 20th century when it became a favorite legume recommended to farmers as cattle fodder and as a nitrogen-rich crop cover for depleted land. Farmers marveled at its rapid growth which was seen as its biggest virtue.

Wheel Deep in June! An article in the Fair Play (St. Genevieve, MO), 1919

This circa 1919 article states that “this remarkable vine is destined to become one of the leading sources of wealth in certain sections of the U.S.”  Despite dim forebodings in this article when one man concluded “so rapid was its growth” it was a complete nuisance as an ornamental shade cover, he instead discovered kudzu to be highly desirable edible fodder for his livestock. This same kudzu enthusiast pined in another article in The Ocala Evening Star, that passing numerous eroded and washed out lands while riding through the south,  he “could see in [his] mind’s eye, kudzu climbing over those hilly, rocky places” and hoped that one day kudzu would cover all of them.

Kudzu’s popularity continued into the 1950s when it finally fell out of favor with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Today, kudzu covers an estimated 7 million acres across the southern United States and is considered to be the most wide-spread invasive species costing hundreds of millions of dollars in eradication, control, and financial loss to crops and forests. Yet, even so, it has become inextricably identified with the southern landscape.

Try searching for more articles on your own. Go to Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers and search “kudzu.” You can also try variations in spelling such as cudzoo, or nicknames such as the “Jack in the Beanstalk vine.”

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All Things Newspaper: Exciting projects associated with the National Digital Newspaper Program

Over the last two years, we have brought you information and updates on the South Carolina Digital Newspaper Program. SCDNP is part of the larger National Digital Newspaper Program (NDNP), along with 27 other states and the District of Columbia, that contributes digitized newspaper content to the Library of Congress’ Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Each participating state has developed creative and innovative ways to present and interpret historical newspaper content. Here are some exciting projects that have been developed so far, along with some others created by folks not directly affiliated with NDNP.

Stanford developed this map of the US demonstrating growth of newspapers along with the expansion of the American West.

Stanford University created an interactive map of the United States, Data Visualization: Journalism’s Voyage West, to demonstrate the growth of newspapers in tandem with the expansion of the American West. This project used data from Chronicling America to plot 140,000 newspapers published from 1690 to the present. Stanford and the Texas Digital Newspaper Program have also partnered on the Mapping Texts project, in which they are “experimenting with new methods for finding and analyzing meaningful patterns embedded in massive collections of digital newspapers.”

A member of the public created this cool Flickr collection using many photos found in Chronicling America.

One cool project contributed to Flickr titled Old Washington includes 250 images of mid 19th to early 20th century Washington, D.C. many of which are found in digitized newspapers from Chronicling America.

The Ohio Historical Society developed the Using Chronicling America Podcast Series.

The Ohio Historical Society recently made available a fantastic resource, the Using Chronicling America Podcast Series, to walk researchers through the search process in Chronicling America.

The Oregon NDNP blog never fails to entertain.

Many NDNP staff have presented some really interesting blog posts hi-lighting articles and historical themes of interest. The Oregon Digital Newspaper Program blog never fails to enlighten and entertain on historical content that they have discovered in their newspapers. Other states that maintain awesome blogs hi-lighting historical newspapers include Fit to Print: Dispatches from the Virginia Newspaper Project, and blogs from Digital Newspaper Projects at Kentucky, Vermont,and Indiana.

The California Digital Newspaper Program employs a User Text Correction feature to improve OCR in their newspaper content.

The California Digital Newspaper Program has created a crowdsourcing project which invited members of the public to help correct the OCR (Optical Character Recognition) of newspaper articles. The CDNP explains that “newspaper copy is generated into searchable text using Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software [which] computers often have a hard time reading. The User Text Correction (UTC) feature in the CDNC allows users to correct text that the computer could not properly identify.” This worthwhile endeavor invites registered users to assist in a project too large and expensive for the CDNP to undertake themselves at this time. To get involved, go to CDNP Help Page and scroll down to the Correcting Text section. CDNP reported that many retirees have enjoyed donating their valuable time to this project, and one individual in their “Hall of Fame” has edited and corrected 154,000 lines of newspaper data!

The Texas Digitization Program developed Resource 4 Educators: Texas Portal to History.

For K-12 teachers, the Texas Digital Newspaper Program created Newspaper Narratives, as part of their Resource 4 Educators: Portals into Texas History resource. The Montana Historical Society composed an extensive guide for K-12 teachers titled Thinking Like a Historian: Using Digital Newspapers in the Classroom and the Digitizing Louisiana Newspaper Project (DLNP) has developed K-12 Curriculum Packets for teachers that meet Louisiana’s Curriculum Standards.

The Library of Congress continues to compose top-notch Topics in Chronicling America. The list continues to grow but there are over 120 topics that showcase the rich history that readers will find in historical newspapers in Chronicling America. Some states like us at SCDNP have created Subject Guides to help users explore historical newspapers and to show the breadth and variety of content researchers might find themselves. Here is a link to our SCDNP LibGuide, as well as Hawaii’s NDNP LibGuide. Marist College has incorporated African-American newspaper titles, made available in Chronicling America, into a LibGuide they created on African American Newspapers Available Online.

NDNP has listed the many projects that have developed out of Chronicling America content and the NDNP. To learn more visit, Extra! Extra! NDNP Extras! And if you have come across any similar resources associated with Chronicling America, we would love to hear about it.

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New Podcast Series Assists Researchers on How to Use Chronicling America

National Digital Newspaper Program staff at the Ohio Historical Society recently launched an 11 Part Podcast Series, Using Chronicling America Podcast Series, that will be most helpful to researchers who wish to improve how they use Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers.

Each podcast will instruct users on the basics of how to use this great resource as well as tips on improving their search inquiries in order to access the rich historical content to be found in Chronicling America.

Podcasts are available on YouTube and can be accessed below.

To access the videos on YouTube, click on the “View” buttons.

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Voices in the Wilderness: Southerners who Opposed Secession

James L. Petigru (1789-1863) argued for decades for the preservation of the Union.

Each April on the anniversary of the first shots of the Civil War, many romanticize the Confederacy and the Lost Cause. Given the extensive coverage of famous battles, generals, and the devastating loss of life, we might be forgiven for ignoring many interesting subtleties that contribute to the larger picture of the Civil War. For instance, we rarely hear about those southerners who opposed secession and were pro-Union in the Civil War. Many assume that, in 1861, every southerner was crowing for States Rights and eager to sever ties with her mother country. Exploring lesser known details, like the Southern Unionist movement, can contribute to a better understanding of our complex past.

One brilliant legal mind, South Carolinian James L. Petigru (1789-1863) argued for decades for the preservation of the Union. He was politically active in the 1830s in opposition to Nullification and throughout the decades leading to Secession in the 1860s. In 1847, when Senator Daniel Webster of Massachusetts visited Charleston, it seems Petigru was involved in Webster’s visit to reaffirm good will between Massachusetts and South Carolina after sectional rifts resulted during the Nullification crisis.

Petigru obituary in the Nashville daily union, March 28, 1863.

In 1861, Petigru argued a case questioning the constitutionality of the Sequestration Act and the Confederate Government when he was served with a writ of garnishment instructing him to turn over his property to the newly formed Confederate Government. Despite the fact that it seems J. L. Petrigru spent his career as a political minority, an epitaph in the Nashville Daily Union, March 28, 1863 remembered the great man as “Faithful Among the Faithless…in the [Nullification crisis] of 1830-33 and in the secession movement of 1860-61, Mr. Petigru held fast to his loyalty to the Union [at] the sacrifice of popularity.” He might have gotten the last laugh when he surmised that secession was a “Lost Cause” prior to the war, remarking that “South Carolina is too small to be a republic, and too large to be an insane asylum.”

To read more articles about James L. Petigru, perform a search yourself in Chronicling America. Search All States, narrow the Date Range to 1836-1865, and enter Petigru in the Search box.

Governor Sam Houston (1793-1863) was removed from office when he refused to take the Confederate oath.

In March 1861, Sam Houston was asked to step down as Governor of Texas when the state legislature seceded from the Union and he refused to take the oath of the Confederacy. In the White Cloud Kansas Chief paper on April 4, 1861 they note that “Old Sam Houston retains his patriotic streak longer than had been expected and will not aid in secession.” Another article in The Perrysburg Journal (Perrysburg, Ohio) on April 11, 1861 recounts Governor Houston’s protest upon being removed from office.

When asked about his opposition to secession, Gov. Houston prophetically told his fellow Texans their future. “Let me tell you what is coming. After the sacrifice of countless millions of treasure and hundreds of thousands of lives, you may win [but] I doubt it. I tell you that, while I believe with you in the doctrine of states rights, the North is determined to preserve this Union [and] when they begin to move in a given direction, they move with the steady momentum and perseverance of a mighty avalanche; and what I fear is, they will overwhelm the South” (

To find similar articles about Sam Houston in the Civil War era in Chronicling America, try searching All States, Narrow the Date Range to 1861 to 1865, and enter Sam Houston in the Simple Search box.

Elizabeth van Lew (1818-1900) served as a Union spy while residing in Richmond, Virginia.

Other less famous individuals maintained allegiances to the Union during the Civil War. One woman, Elizabeth van Lew (1818-1900), nicknamed Crazy Bet, acted as a Union spy in her hometown of Richmond, Virginia. She also operated a larger spy ring that infiltrated the Confederate Department of the Navy and the Confederate Department of War. A retrospective article in the Washington times (Washington, D.C.), June 29, 1902, describes in detail her various accomplishments as a spy. Her obituary explains further her involvement in the war, keeping in contact with General Grant himself whenever his movements brought him near to Richmond.

Other southerners who sided with the Union acted as spies, such as one Mrs. Thompson, whose husband joined the 1st Tennessee Union cavalry and served in the Union army. While living in east Tennessee, she acted as a spy on many occasions and working in concert with her husband she was able to assist in the recruitment of 900 men to the Union army.

To find similar articles like these, try searching in Chronicling America for All States, Narrow Date Range to 1861 to 1865, and search Union Spy in the simple search box. To include retrospective articles, you might expand the Date Range from 1861 to 1922.

Many other southerners publicly maintained their allegiance to the United States and followed the Union into the Civil War. General Winfield Scott, a Virginian, and Brigadier General Montgomery Meigs from Georgia, both career U.S. Army men, chose to stay with the Union Army at the outbreak of the war. Governor Francis Pierpont, a native Virginian, became the Civil War era governor of West Virginia when that entire section of Virginia broke away from the state of Virginia at the outbreak of war. He also served as the Reconstruction governor of all of Virginia after the Civil War. North Carolina Governor William Holden became an outspoken opponent of the war and a leader in the North Carolina Peace movement during the Civil War. And native Virginian, John Minor Botts, who was arrested in 1862 for “manifesting Union proclivities” remained neutral and chose not to fight against his home state of Virginia.

The 1866 Convention of Southern Unionists was held in Philadelphia.

There are countless examples of individuals who bravely chose the unpopular path of resistance to Secession and the Confederacy. Try some searches yourself and you will doubtless find more fascinating accounts like these! The following terms might be a good starting point for your own searching in Chronicling America: Anti-secessionist, Unionist Democrats, Southern Unionists, Southern Loyalists, Union Loyalists, Lincoln Loyalists. Let us know if you find an article you’ve just got to share!

1. Photo of James L. Petigru, Courtesy of University of South Carolina Digital Collections.

2. Obituary of James L. Petigru, Courtesy of Chronicling America,

3. Photo of Governor Sam Houston, Courtesy of ETV,

4. Photo of Elizabeth van Lew, Courtesy of Chronicling America,

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Watch Free Webinar on The Power of Digitization: Digitizing Historical SC Newspapers at the SCDNP


  • Have you heard about the SC Digital Newspaper Program (SCDNP) and would like to know more about what we do and which historical SC newspapers we are digitizing?
  • Would you like to learn more about how to search and use Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers?
  • Would you like to learn more about the history behind the history of SC newspapers digitized in this project?
  • Would you like to learn about program resources we have developed to help you get the most out of the digitized newspapers?

With the help of the SC State Library, we presented a free webinar last Friday which we recorded and is now accessible online. Just click on the link below or on the above image.

The Power of Digitization: The South Carolina Digital Newspaper Project

In this webinar, we discuss the SC Digital Newspaper Program, the newspapers we are digitizing which you can now access on Chronicling America, an overview of the background histories of the SC newspapers digitized in this project, and how to search and use Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. To learn more about our project, visit our website at

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Exploring the Progressive Era in Historical SC Newspapers: 1900-1920s

The Progressive Era

The Progressive Era began around 1900 and continued into the late 1920s and marked sweeping changes in social issues, technology, and government involvement in everyday people’s lives.

Social issues such as child labor, women’s suffrage, prohibition, the Great Migration; government programs that crafted new policies to improve education, health, agriculture, and infrastructure; technological advancements such as the telephone, cars, radios, and airplanes; conflicts like World War I; and large scale building projects like the Panama Canal are all hallmarks of the Progressive era.

In 1900, when the Progressive era began….

You might not recognize South Carolina compared to today.

Even though automobiles had been invented, many people still used horses, mules, and wagons to get where they needed to go.

Most of South Carolinians lived on farms and worked in mills. In 1900, children made up 1/4 of all people working in mills.

At turn of century, many people could still die of diseases like typhoid, yellow fever, pellagra, smallpox, and tuberculosis. Many South Carolinians had health problems like hookworm due to their poor living conditions. Improvements made during the Progressive Era were able to prevent disease and improve the lives of families.

Across the state, many schools were one room school cabins like this one. In 1880, 22% of white people and 78% of African-Americans could not read or write.


These articles are just a small sample of what you might discover in historical SC newspapers on the Progressive Era.

Child Labor

At the beginning of the 20th century, children were seen as a source of cheap labor. Children as young as 5 years old were doing some sort of work in mills alongside their older siblings and parents. Some children worked 6 days a week for 10 to 12 hours a day, and many children did not attend school because they worked. Over half of all mill children could neither read nor write.

Key Words: child labor, child labor bill, National Child Labor Committee, compulsory education

In 1903, a child labor bill finally became law, which prohibited any child under 10 years  to be employed in a factory, mine, or mill. In 1904, the age limit was 11, and in 1905 the age limit became 12.


Women’s Suffrage

The first attempts in SC for women’s rights right after the Civil War in 1870. 1872, the General Assembly endorsed a petition of the American Woman Suffrage Association, but little came of it. Earliest suffrage clubs in SC organized in the 1890s. Women began to champion social issues like prohibition along with promoting their right to vote. Became very active around 1895, but were only promoting the right to vote to include educated, upper class white women. Opponents said the women’s rights movement was “against Scripture, against nature, and against common sense.”

In the 1910s, clubs and leagues like the New Era Club, the SC Equal Suffrage League, and National Women’s Party spread around SC. (Read more about how women’s clubs helped bring about social change in this blog post.) The first suffrage parade was held at the SC State Fair in 1914. One proponent of the movement, Eulalie Salley once boxed in a prizefight to raise money for her cause and hung out of an airplane scattering pamphlets over Aiken.

Keywords: American Woman’s Suffrage Association, Anita Pollitzer, Virginia Durant Young, Women’s Christian Temperance Union, South Carolina Equal Rights Association (SCERA), National Women Suffrage Association, Equal Suffrage League, Laura Clay, Eulalie Chaffey Salley, Nineteenth Amendment, Suffrage



At the turn of the 20th century, South Carolina taught white children and African-American children in separate schools.

Keywords: Illiteracy, Compulsory Education, Governor Richard I. Manning, Miss Will Lou Gray, Write Your Name Campaign, Night School, High School

New schools were built all over the state of South Carolina.

In 1914, illiteracy was widespread.  25% of voters could only sign their name with an X. During the Progressive Era, many educational programs sought to help teach adults and children alike how to read and write.


Advances in Technology & Infrastructure

Consumer products such as electric vacuums, electric irons, washing machines, and gas stoves were labor-saving devices that made caring for one’s home easier for women. Other inventions like the telephone, automobile, and radio also changed people’s lives. Hydro-power dams were built which initiated widespread rural electrification in later years. State programs to improve roads and create paved roads, something we might take for granted today, were a marked improvement over the poor road system across S.C. until the early 1900s.

Keywords: Edison, telephone, automobile, airplane, radio, hydro-power, highways, road improvement, Southern Power Company

One might hear this conversation today using cell phones rather than these large wooden wall phones.

The automobile gained popularity during the 1910s and 1920s.


 World War One

SC experienced a boom in the economy with a rise in war time prices on food and clothing. 65,000 South Carolinians, both white and African-American, fought in WWI. Military installations like Fort Jackson and Parris Island Marine Base were started during that period.

Many African Americans fought in WWI, only to come home to segregation and limited opportunities. This led to a mass exodus of African-Americans to northern and western cities.

Keywords: Camp Jackson, Camp Sevier, Camp Wadsworth, Parris Island, Charleston Navy Yard, Armistice, Western Front, President Woodrow Wilson, Allied Powers, Victory Gardens, Liberty Bonds, Red Cross, the Home Front, Treaty of Versailles

Learn more about South Carolina during the Progressive Era using our LibGuide on the Progressive Era which provides even more keywords to search, important dates, and interesting articles from the time.



Resource Links

Chronicling America,

SCDNP Subject Guide,


SC Digital Newspaper Program,

USC Digital Collections homepage,

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