Copies of Christensen Diaries Donated to BDC

We are always on the look-out for materials related to the history, culture and environment of the area once known as "Beaufort District."

Sometimes I hear about interesting materials. Sometimes generous people contact us out of the blue to offer us materials. This is what happened in the case of our first digital collection, Phosphate, Farms and Family: The Donner Collection. Luckily, it happened again late last year when a California based branch of a local family contacted us with their family treasure, a trove of diaries.

Erik Christensen, a grandson of the diarist Frederik Holmes Christensen (1877 - 1944), and Erik's wife, Catherine, generously offerred us a 12 bound volume set of photocopies of his grandfather's diaries. Frederik Holmes Christensen wrote a series of manuscript diaries that are now preserved by the South Caroliniana Library, University of South Carolina. USC distributed a set of bound photocopies for each child and grandchild of the diarist in 1986.

Our interest is strongest in the content or substance of the historical information provided. The topics Mr. Christensen wrote about most definitely fall within our collection development policy. Therefore, I was delighted when Mr. and Mrs. Erik Christensen extended the privilege of "First Refusal" of the bound photocopies that her husband had received to the BDC.

Because of their generosity, we don't have to drive all the way to Columbia to read about Mr. Christensen's observations of the people, places, and events living or going on in Beaufort for more than half a century beginning 117 years ago.

All the paperwork being signed, the Technical Services department work done, the 12 volumes are now available within the BDC for research by our customers. You can visit the BDC during our regular hours of operation and read to your heart's content. The volumes often include a daily entry on political, social, and economic life in Beaufort during the period 1893 - 1944.

Here's what Frederik Holmes Christensen (1877 - 1944) wrote 67 years ago today:

Sunday, May 30 [1943] Decoration day will be celebrated this year tomorrow the 31st. Nevertheless Helen, Frederik and I went over to the church yard with flowers today and decorated father and Mother's lots. In the afternoon I went to the wharf and witnessed the colored exercises for those lost at sea.

[For a Connections entry about Decoration Day, click here.]

Tuesday I acted as pall bearer at the funeral of Mrs. Chas. Griffin once Miss Crocker. She has lived in Charleston for years. Also Major Elliott Chas. P. Elliott who could remember being taken out of Beaufort across the Whalebranch Ferry in a wagon when his family and the rest of the Whites evacuated Beaufort on the approach of the Federal fleet in the last war when he was a small boy, died the first of the week. As was his habit he had taken provisions in his boat and gone but for a couple of days fishing. As he did not return search was made for him. His body, partly covered by water was found in the marsh. Eighty-six years old his sight was poor. Perhaps he left his boat and was unable to find it. Perhaps he had a heart attack.

[I will post the obituary of Maj. Elliott in a few days so you can compare the Beaufort Gazette report with this diary entry.]

Here's the solicitation but it won't cost you a cent:

Allowing me the opportunity to evaluate what you might be willing to donate to the Library is the best gift you can give us now that the compact shelves are being installed. (Until the funding of the compact shelves was completed, I mostly needed your money!) Once we relocate to the 2nd floor, we will finally, at long last, have some growing room.

We rely on the kindness, generosity and goodness of people interested in preserving significant local historical materials to grow the archives part of the BDC.

Many times, we accept your material, graciously and with gratitude (I hope).

There are several reasons why we might not accept your offered materials. Sometimes the material falls outside our collection development policy -- in which case we try to refer you to a more appropriate repository for your material. Sometimes we already have a copy. Sometimes the material is too damaged. When we decline your material, I hope that we do so with graciousness and that you feel our gratitude for the offer.

Bottom line: Letting me have first dibs for the Library's Forever Collection, the BDC, is the best gift anyone can give us.

Please consider looking through your "stuff" for potential local history treasures for the Library. Along about mid-September, we'll be ready, willing, and able to discuss possible donations. If you have a material that you would be willing to donate to us, please contact me by telephone at 255-6446 or by e-mail at so we can talk.

Thank you very much, Mr. and Mrs. Erik Christensen, for generously sharing your family's history with us in order that we might better share and understand Beaufort's past.

You can join Erik and Catherine Christensen and Chris, Christopher, and Ann Donner in the ranks of the generous donors of materials to the BDC. Please look through your "stuff" and consider the BDC as the first place you would like to see the materials cared for now and into the future.

Remember: Only you can help the BDC "Bring the Past to the Present."

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.