Columbia is the capital of South Carolina and its largest city. Columbia’s central location has allowed the city to provide a pivotal role in government, commerce, and education for the people of South Carolina. In 1786, Columbia was chosen as the site of the new state capital by the General Assembly and the State General Assembly first met here in 1790. After remaining under the direct government of the legislature for the first two decades of its existence, Columbia was incorporated as a village in 1805 and then as a city in 1854. Today it is the seat of Richland County.

The following digital collections represent a broad picture of the history of Columbia, South Carolina, from the 1800s to the end of the twentieth century. A special thanks to the City of Columbia, Richland Library, USC Libraries, South Carolina State Museum, South Carolina State Library, and the South Carolina Department of Archives and History for making these collections available online.

A collection of broadsides from the colonial era to the present, including proclamations, political tracts, and commercial advertisements. Columbia-related materials date from 1824 to 1942.

Provided by the South Caroliniana Library

Detail of Thanksgiving Proclamation by Governor Robert K. Scott, 1870

The historical minutes of Columbia’s City Council, spanning January 1883 to November 1889 and October 1893 to November 1898. Please check back frequently as we are constantly adding to this collection.

Provided by the City of Columbia

Detail of page 28, Columbia City Council Minutes, November 1886

This collection of city directories from 1859 to the early 1900s provides alphabetized listings of residents and businesses, as well as street-by-street listings of occupants. Please check back frequently as we are constantly adding to this collection.

Provided by Richland Library and University of South Carolina Libraries

Detail of front cover, Columbia City Directory for 1879 and 1880

A collection of mid-twentieth-century photographs of people and places throughout Columbia, taken by local professional photographer John Hensel.

Provided by the South Caroliniana Library; acquisition and digitization of this collection made possible through the Historic Columbia Foundation

Photograph of Main Street, Tapp's Building, Corner

Joseph Winter was the director of the city’s Urban Rehabilitation Commission from 1965 to 1980. In this capacity he photographed many buildings, neighborhoods, landscapes, and people of Columbia.

Provided by the South Caroliniana Library

Photograph of actress labeled 'Theatre'

Written in 1903 by W. B. Whaley and Company, Modern Cotton Mill Engineering describes the cotton mill industries of the Carolinas, Alabama, and Massachusetts in the beginning of the twentieth century. Five Columbia companies are included.

Provided by Richland Library

Detail of advertisement verso 2, showing Saco and Pettee's Patent Drawing Frame

A comprehensive photograph collection of the Columbia area from 1865 to 1980, taken by longtime community photographers such as Russell Maxey, John A. Sargeant, Charles Old, and Walter Blanchard.

Provided by the South Carolina State Museum

Detail of 1905 photograph of the J. W. Strickland Residence at 1317 Taylor Street
Detail of 1916 Richland County soil survey map

A collection late nineteenth and early twentieth century photographs of and pertaining to the city of Columbia. These photographs date from 1880 to 1958.

Provided by the South Caroliniana Library

Picture of a street in Downtown Columbia




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