Caroliniana Columns
Newsletter of the University South Caroliniana Society
Spring 20000
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Maps, Maps, and
More Maps!

The Books Division is renowned for its map collection, which has developed through hard work and a commitment to the acquisitions policy. Long recognized as remarkable, the collection is represented by an amazing selection of seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth century maps. And for the last year, the staff and interested patrons have worked hard to augment the collection's twentieth century maps.

Map of the "Official Atlantic Coastal Highway"
This 1929 map identifies routes as "hard surface," "sand clay," and "projected roads." Side panels picture points of interest.

Charleston (S.C.) and vicinity - 70425 Bytes
Click on image (625 K).

An outstanding example of this is a nearly complete series of South Carolina Highway Transportation System maps. With the introduction of the automobile in the late nineteenth century, the need for improved roads became apparent. As automobile transportation became a reality and more individuals took to the road, there also emerged a need for more detailed highway maps. At that time, South Carolina's roads fell under the jurisdiction of the State Department of Agriculture, Commerce and Industries, which produced the first maps of the state roadways. The Library is fortunate to have several of these early maps.

The Library's collection of South Carolina maps now includes a significant number of 20th century maps.


These recent acquisitions join the Library's celebrated collection of maps published during the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries.

In 1916 limited federal funding for road construction led, in part, to the creation of the State Highway Department (now the Department of Transportation) a year later. This agency began almost annual publication of official highway system maps. Out of eighty-two possible years' worth of maps, the Library holds seventy-three maps which serve to demonstrate the change and growth of the state's highway system. At most, the Library is missing nine: the maps for 1921, 1924, 1926, 1936, 1938, and 1943 through 1946. However, it is possible that during World War II the department did not produce maps, so the number missing may not be accurate.
For many of these maps, the Library is indebted to Mr. John Henderson of the South Carolina Department of Transportation.

In conjunction with the government-produced maps, Library patron and Society member Mr. Fred Holder has augmented the collection with automobile trail maps from the first half of the twentieth century. Automobile enthusiasts and businessmen, often associated with the Better Roads Association, charted road networks nationwide to help motorists find the best travel routes.

Piedmont Highway Association Hard-Surfaced Highway Map, "The Piedmont Route," ca. 1920s.
Piedmont Route - 23574 Bytes
Click on image (135 K)
The 1921 Federal Road Act created a proliferation of interstate roads carrying a confusing variety of names, resulting in the establishment of federal road numbers in the mid-1920's. Consequently, the Indian Trail became US # 1, one of the earliest major north-south routes.

These publications had special strip maps with accompanying material listing places of interest, automobile repair shops, restaurants, tourist houses, and tourist courts. Especially popular were those routes from northern cities to the Gulf Coast and Florida. Notable trails through South Carolina were the Dixie and Appalachian Highways, and the Woodpecker and Indian Trails.

A third noteworthy group of maps the Library is in the process of acquiring is the United States Department of Agriculture County soil maps from the early 1900s.

The Library now holds detailed U.S. Dept. of Agriculture county soil maps from the early 1900s.


These maps document roads, houses, churches, and schools, many of which no longer exist.

Not only do these maps serve an obvious geographic function, but, perhaps more significantly for some researchers, they outline the location of roads, houses, churches, and schools. These details are of immense use to many types of researchers including historians, genealogists, archaeologists, and engineers. To supplement these county maps, the Library endeavors to acquire individual town and city maps to further demonstrate the urbanization of the state over time.

Although the Library is currently focusing on developing its twentieth century maps, it still seeks to acquire older maps. Books Division is always on the lookout for unique materials to augment the collection. The Library welcomes additions from its Society members and other interested parties; please contact Ms. Robin Copp in the Books Division with any information or suggestions.

--Robin Copp

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