From the Beacon: Beaufort District Collection to be open for tours in October

October is a very busy time for the staff in the Beaufort District Collection. We have lots to celebrate as it is both Archives Month and Archaeology Month.

ARCHIVES MONTH

Although the noun "archives" has several meanings, the definition most relevant to the management and daily operation of the Beaufort District Collection is "a facility in which records of permanent historical, cultural or evidentiary importance are preserved, providing a means through which present and future generations may gain knowledge of and maintain continuity with the past."

Every day, our staff of two manages archives of donated materials from individuals and organizations that demonstrate contributions of enduring local historical and cultural value to our area.

To honor Archives Month, we share our holdings by offering guided tours of our archival stacks to members of the public. This is the only time of the year that we allow tours of our closed stack area for individuals. We have scheduled two sessions this year: 10:30 a.m. to noon Oct. 12 and 6 to 7:30 p.m. Oct. 16. We'll showcase our holdings relating to local natural disasters of the past in accordance with the 2012 S.C. Archives Month theme "Planning for the Worst, Hoping for the Best: Documenting South Carolina's Natural Disasters."

The tours are free, but registration is required and limited to 10 people a session, ages 12 and older. To register, call 843-255-6468, email cseabrook@bcgov.net or drop by our Beaufort District Collection Research Room desk to sign up.

We'll also share information about our own local natural disasters through our Research Room display case and social media. Details: www.beaufortcountylibrary.org, click on Local History tab.

ARCHAEOLOGY MONTH

The Beaufort County library system has been celebrating Archaeology Month annually since 2004 in conjunction with Ian Hill, a Beaufort County preservationist. In concert with the goals of Archaeology Month, the Beaufort County Planning Department and the Beaufort County Library have teamed yet again to stimulate public pride in our county's long archaeological heritage; increase public understanding of why archaeological research is important; educate the public about how to protect, preserve and study archaeological resources; and encourage legitimate archaeological activities within our state.

This year we are cosponsoring a lecture on "Civil War Naval Operations and Shipwrecks" by State Underwater Archaeologist Jim Spirek. Spirek will discuss the various operations of the Union and Confederate navies and the archaeological remains associated with these activities, including the sinking of the stone fleets off Charleston, blockade running and gunboats lost in the rivers.

We know that there is a great deal of interest in the Civil War and the archaeology of local waterways. Accordingly, we will hold Spirek's lecture at 5:30 p.m. Oct. 17 in County Council Chambers, 100 Ribaut Road, Beaufort. The program is free and open to the public.