Spring 1997


Visual images -- sometimes a mystery

View 1 of mystery room
View 1 of mystery room. Contact Beth Bilderback at (803)777-5183
if you have the answer. See another view of the room below.
The South Caroliniana Library has been collecting visual images from the earliest days. While this has not been one of its main collecting areas, the library has built a significant collection of photographs, original artwork, and prints such as lithographs and engravings which documents the history of South Carolina and the Southeast. The photograph collection itself contains well over 20,000 prints and 5,000 negatives. During the past few years we have become more aggressive in our collecting and have added an average of 100 images per year.

The library is dedicated to improving the storage of and access to all of its collections, and the photograph collection is not an exception. A grant application to rehouse and convert the catalog records into the University's online system is now being reviewed by the National Endowment for the Humanities. The two-year grant would provide for the staff and materials necessary to complete this project.

The photograph collection is used extensively by publishers, producers, writers, videographers, historical researchers, and genealogists. There are wonderful images, many of which are unknown to researchers because of the limitations of the card catalog or lack of information about the image. Sometimes the information attributed to an image is incorrect. Such a discovery occurred recently. In his research to document the extensive renovations of the State House, Dan Bilderback, who heads up the documentation efforts, located a publication with photographs identified as the State House Relic Room. However, the architecture of the room in the pictures was incompatible with that of the actual room in the State House. The publication also identified the photographs as the property of the South Caroliniana Library. After viewing the original photographs in the library, he was no closer to solving the mystery of the identity of the room in the image.

The series of four copy prints show all four views of the room. There is a fireplace at each end, double rows of windows on one side, and series of doors under a row of windows on the other side. Typed on the back of each photograph is "Columbia: State House Interior" - no accession number or other marks. When the photographs were shown to John Bigham, curator of the Relic Room (now located in the War Memorial Building next to the library), he immediately confirmed that the collection on display in the photographs did not belong to the Relic Room. So now the search is on to identify the collection and the room in the prints. Two of the four images are reproduced here. Anyone who recognizes them should contact Beth Bilderback at 803-777-5183, e-mail her at bilderback@tcl.sc.edu, or write to her at the library. We hope to publish the correct information in a future issue!

View 2 of room
View 2 of unidentified room. Can you identify this room?
Help us solve the mystery.
First view of the room.

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