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Historic Newspapers of South Carolina puts 200 years of SC history online


University of South Carolina Libraries has launched a new digital archive, Historic Newspapers of South Carolina, that provides free and easy access to more than 143 local, regional and specialized newspapers and publications dating back to the early 1800s.

The Lighthouse and Informer, one of the
most important African-American newspapers
in the history of Southern journalism
(August 29, 1948 issue)

USC library staff and students have scanned more than 350,000 pages from 143 individual historic publications held by the South Caroliniana Library to build the online archive — and they’re not done yet. Digital Initiatives Librarian Kate Boyd anticipates that by the end of 2017, there will be approximately 400,000 pages scanned and uploaded.

Historic Newspapers of South Carolina consists of publications that served the news needs and special interests of towns and communities, businesses and organizations throughout the state. It provides access to an amazing selection of rare and specialty newspapers, and includes ten African-American titles published between 1865 and 1922 as well as two civil rights era papers.

“We’ve built a rich digital resource that provides detailed insight into all aspects of life in the state for the past 200 years,” Boyd said. “It’s an excellent research resource for K-12 and college students, academic researchers, and history and genealogy buffs.”

Some unique publications within the collection include: 

  • Clinton Mills Clothmaker, published by and for the employees of Clinton and Lydia Cotton Mills in Clinton, South Carolina in the 1980s
  • Farmer’s Gazette and Cheraw Advertiser (1839-1843), dedicated to the advancement of practices in agriculture and politics  
  • Keowee Courier, news from Oconee County, 1949-1922
  • Columbia Phoenix, documented the slow recovery of the area in the post-Civil War era from 1865 to 1878

The two civil rights era African-American newspapers within the archive have recently been digitized and are now accessible online for the first time. The Lighthouse and Informer, one of the most important African-American newspapers in the history of Southern journalism, a founded by journalist and politician John H. McCray, who exposed the racial climate and injustice in the state through the 16-year run of the publication from 1938-1954. The Palmetto Leader was launched in Columbia in 1925 by attorney Nathaniel Frederick to demand anti-lynching legislation, black voting rights, and an end to mob violence against African Americans. After Frederick’s death in 1938, the Leader moved toward publishing society and religious news through the 1960s.

A call to the farmers of
Kershaw County for fresh produce,
The Camden Chronicle
(July 14, 1943 issue)

Publications included in Historic Newspapers of South Carolina cover notable moments in each community, from births, weddings and deaths, to larger national and international subjects including politics, war, the economy, scientific discoveries, natural disasters, social issues, entertainment, scandals and more.

Each of the 350,000 scanned newspaper pages within the archive are fully keyword searchable, and can be browsed by title, county in which they were published, or by a specific date. Users can zoom in on images and text, pan around pages, save a page or portion of a page, print pages, and create permalinks to individual pages to provide reference in formal research and projects.

The site also features a “100 years ago today” link function that links to the front page of the hundreds of available titles from 100 years ago — on any given day of the year.

Since the pages within the archive are scans of the actual newspaper pages and images of the pages on microfilm, all the visual elements of the papers, including images, illustrations, ads, design, fonts, and more can be explored and studied.

Historic Newspapers of South Carolina is accessible at All of its contents are either in the public domain or can freely be used for educational purposes as expressed by the copyright holders.

The Historic Newspapers of South Carolina project is a continuation of work the USC Libraries Digital Collections staff did under Boyd’s direction from 2009 to 2015, digitizing papers from the South Caroliniana Library, with the National Digital Newspaper Program’s Chronicling America project, which was funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Library of Congress. More recently, funding support has come from the Horry County Archive Center at Coastal Carolina University to digitize Horry County papers, Presbyterian College to digitize the Clinton Chronicle, and the Institute of Museum and Library Services’ LSTA grant support to include The Camden Chronicle.

Boyd and her team are grateful for all support and want to continue to grow the archive well into the future. They are looking for additional specialty newspapers and publications to add to the archive.

“We want this archive to be comprehensive and completely representative of the state of South Carolina and its history," Boyd said, "and we’re always looking for new partnerships and publications to make that happen."

For more information on the Historic Newspapers of South Carolina project, visit, or contact Kate Boyd at