ARCHIVARIA: An assortment of Interesting Items from the South Carolina State Archives


An Assortment of Interesting Items from the South Carolina State Archives


As custodian of South Carolinaís permanently valuable government records, the Department of Archives and History holds one of our nationís richest collections of historical documentation. Its records, dating from 1671 to the recent past, document our rights and the stewardship of our democratic form of government and provide a window into more than three centuries of life in South Carolina. These records are the peopleís treasure.

From Joseph Dalton, the first secretary of the province, to archivists and records managers today, South Carolinians have labored to preserve their stateís records. And despite hurricanes, wars, and fires, they have been remarkably successful, as the departmentís holdings show. Documents in the Archivesí vaults range from parchment manuscripts to electronic records and include the records of the legislature, courts, and governors; state institutions like the Lunatic Asylum and the Central Corrections Institution; county and municipal governments; and modern state agencies. The documents shown here illustrate the rich variety and high interest of the collection as a whole. More documents are on display in the J. Verne Smith Gallery at the South Carolina Archives and History Center.  They are, however, but a tantalizing sample of the over twenty-five thousand cubic feet of records open to the public in our Research Room.


1674 Agreement Between the Lords Proprietors of Carolina(right)1674 Agreement Between the Lords Proprietors of Carolina.  Link to enlargement

These "Articles indented of seven parts" constituted a legal contract between seven of the eight owners of what became North and South Carolina. Here the seven agreed to pay for further supplies for the fledgling settlement on the Ashley River. The seal at the far right is blank because Sir Peter Colleton was in Barbados serving as acting governor, but he sent word that he approved of the new contract. The eighth proprietor, Sir William Berkeley, was excluded because he had failed to finance his share of the venture; the other proprietors were then trying to buy him out. Constitutional and Organic Papers

Photo of tree marking SC NC boundary

(left) Pine Tree Blazed in 1735 to Mark the North Carolina/South Carolina Boundary

A commission resurveying the North Carolina/South Carolina boundary in 1928 found a long leaf pine that had been blazed to mark the boundary in 1735. They felled the tree, replaced it with a stone marker, and gave one half of the blazed section of the tree to each state. The State Archives holds many maps and plats serving as legal records of boundaries of various kinds, but this tree section is unique and one of the most unusual records in the holdings.


Map of the North Carolina/South Carolina Boundary, 1928Gov Richards ProclamationIn 1928 Governor John G. Richards, with authorization from the South Carolina General Assembly, appointed a commissioner to resurvey the North Carolina/South Carolina boundary between the Atlantic Ocean and the Lumber River. This proclamation from Governor Richards made official the results of the survey, which had found the blazed pine tree from 1735. Current Subjects File, Records of Governor John Gardiner Richards (1927-1931) 
Follow this link to see the full size proclamation on the left.


A notation near the top of the official map of the boundary pinpoints the stone marker that replaced the pine tree blazed in 1735. Besides marking trees again, the surveyors marked the line by "granite posts at two mile intervals and at each principal Road, River and Railroad Crossing." 
(Right) Map of the North Carolina/South Carolina Boundary, 1928




In early 1777 George Smithson engraved this coin silver matrix (below), or die, designed by William Henry Drayton and Arthur Middleton. Drayton wrote that like the obverse, the reverse, which depicts the figure of the Latin goddess Spes (Hope) walking on the seashore, referred to the heroic victory at the palmetto log fort on Sullivanís Island.  The silver die carries the state motto: Dum spiro spero (While I breathe, I hope). It was used to make large pendant wax seals. Retired Matrices of the State Seal, Records of the Secretary of State 

Great Seal of South Carolina, 1776-1777


(Left) Third Small Seal of South Carolina, 1823

The matrix of the second small state seal, which was engraved in 1812, is missing. It was used in the Charleston office of the secretary of state. This third small state seal was created in 1823 at the request of Governor John L. Wilson and was used in the Columbia office. It was probably engraved by Charlestonís Charles Simons. Retired Matrices of the State Seal, Records of the Secretary of State





(right) Late Nineteenth Century Seal Embosser

Two embossers were found in the offices of the Secretary of State in recent years and turned over to the Department. Secretary of State John Quitman Marshall ordered the larger one on the right from the American Bank Note Company of New York. It cost only sixty-five dollars and was delivered in 1889. Retired Matrices of the State Seal, Records of the Secretary of State




                                    (below) Variant Matrix of the State Seal, 1861

This seal with its original case is something of a mystery. The Department of Archives and History purchased it in 1997 but has not yet been able to definitely identify for whom it was made. The case is marked Charleston, S. C. and the end of the handle is clearly dated 1861. Retired Matrices of the State Seal, Records of the Secretary of State




Architectural Plan for South Carolina College, 1802

(Right) Architectural Plan for South Carolina College, 1802. Follow this link to see an enlargement

Peter Banner was an architect at Yale College when he submitted this drawing for the architectural competition for South Carolina College in 1802. Bannerís entry did not win, but his drawings (and drawings of Yale that he also included) are still among the treasures in the State Archives. Architectural Drawings in Map Collection

teachrep.jpg (538403 bytes)

Teacherís Report for Jillson School, Florence, 1870.  Follow this link to see the full size page.

The 1868 Constitution established a public school system that for the first time included all South Carolinians. This teacherís report shows that Joshua Wilson and two other "Southern colored teachers" taught 62 African American students in a building owned by the Freedmenís Bureau. Teachersí Reports for Salary and Expense Reimbursement Submitted by County School Commissioners, 1868-1870, Records of the Department of Education 


The building on the right was constructed in 1934 from used materials and served as Zion Hill Elementary School and also as a church. Its one 38í x 29í room held factory-made desks, five home-made church benches, a coal stove, and 116 students in grades one through seven, but no lights. Outside there was a surface privy for girls, but there was no running water and no bathroom for boys. Works Progress Administration Inventory of County Schools, Records of the Spartanburg County Board of Education 

A Spartanburg County African-American Elementary School, 1935
Below are two pages of a report on the physical conditions at the school.  Click on the image for a full size page.

School Conditions report       Page two of school conditions report

Edgar A. Brown's  Campaign Poster, ca. 1926

Affectionately known as the "Bishop from Barnwell," Edgar A. Brown was one of the most powerful figures in state politics. He served in the South Carolina General Assembly for over 50 years, beginning with his election to the state House of Representatives in 1920. Eight years later, he was elected to the state Senate, where he served until his retirement in 1972. Although frequently urged to run for governor, Brown had only one political ambition beyond state service - the United States Senate. He ran three times, in 1926, in 1938, and in 1954. In each of his first two attempts, he failed to win the Democratic nomination, and in 1954, he was defeated by write-in candidate Strom Thurmond.