Christmas in Beaufort District Through the Years

This month, we're highlighting just a few of our library and archives holdings with a "Christmas" theme. As you can see from the image, our "Christmas in Beaufort District Through the Years" display contains a variety of formats. We include 2 posters, a postcard, a photograph, a poem, a hymn, extracts from our vertical files, an audio CD, church and program bulletins, and several holiday themed books. Expect to hear more about the individual items over the next two weeks.

Local historian, Gerhard Spieler, writes the "Historically Speaking" column in the Sea Island Scene. Following the magazine's advice to "Tell Them You Saw It in the Sea Island Scene," I'm telling you that his article "Christmas in the South Carolina Lowcountry" (p. 25) spurred my (limited) creative juices to pick appropriate (and I trust interesting) materials for the December display.

* His reference to the Christmas tree reminded me of the circa 1900 photograph we have of three African American servants to the Donner Brothers standing in front of a Christmas tree. You can find the image online in the "Phosphate, Farms, and Family: The Donner Collection." (Choose "Christmas" in the "Browse by Subject" box.)

* He wrote about James Stuart's description of Christmas time celebrations before the Civil War. We have a copy of "Cousin Jimmie['s] Christmas on the Plantation" document in our vertical files. ("Cousin Jimmie" was antebellum planter, James Stuart). In fact, you can read Stuart's entire "Autobiography" here in the BDC.

* He mentions that Reconstruction missionary and teacher, Charlotte Forten, asked John Greenleaf Whittier to write a Christmas themed hymn for her pupils at Penn School. Thus, I selected the "Hymn: Sung at Christmas By The Scholars Of St. Helena's Island, S. C. 1863" for the display.

If you're downtown anyway, and taking advantage of the Christmas present from the City of Beaufort for 2 hour free parking in the lot closest to the Library building at 311 Scott Street, why not come upstairs to the BDC and learn more about "Christmas in Beaufort District Through the Ages" as well as take a look at the Beaufort Photography Club's "All Creatures Great and Small" exhibit?

About the Author

Grace Cordial has been responsible for the day-to-day operation of the Beaufort District Collection at the Beaufort County Library since 1999.  The Beaufort District Collection exists to acquire, preserve, maintain and make accessible a research collection of permanent value which records the history, culture, and environment of our part of the South Carolina lowcountry.  Besides the research room, Cordial manages the “Virtual BDC:” the BDC web pages, the Online Obituary Index, two digital collections, a new BDC.BCL Facebook page, and the Connections blog.  
Among her duties is to coordinate or present programs about local history, Gullah culture, and our coastal environment, including occasional instructional sessions about how to perform historical and/or genealogical research.