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About the Beaufort District Collection

The purpose of the Beaufort District Collection is to acquire, preserve, maintain and make accessible a research collection of permanent value that records the history of the area of lowcountry South Carolina known as the old historic Beaufort District. We have biographies, nonfiction books, video materials and archival collections about local history including Gullah traditions, natural history, archaeology, genealogy, and other topics relevant to Beaufort, Hampton and Jasper Counties.

Visiting the Beaufort District Collection

The BDC Research Room welcomes researchers over the age of 12 years by advance appointment only. The Research Room is intended to be used by customers who perform their own research. We follow guidelines for special collections and archives. Our philosophy of service is to offer as many free services as possible to those who are interested in learning more about the history, peoples, Gullah culture, and natural environment of Beaufort District.


Limited access to the Research Room has been in effect since March 2020. Arrangements can be made by contacting the Research Room at 843-255-6468 or by emailing Please note: Staffing challenges may prevent accommodation of your preferred date and time.


Materials in the Beaufort District Collection

At various points in the past, Beaufort District included all or parts of current Beaufort, Jasper, Hampton and Allendale counties. General coverage is granted to the rest of South Carolina. 


Materials may not be removed from the Beaufort District Collection.  However, duplicate copies of some titles are available through the "Local History" sections at the Branch Libraries in Beaufort, Bluffton, Hilton Head, Lobeco and St. Helena.

Most of the printed items held within the BDC may be photocopied in the Beaufort District Collection room, pursuant to U.S. copyright laws. However,some materials owned by the BDC cannot be duplicated due to the fragility of the materials.  If you want to make photocopies of or use an electronic or digital means of acquiring a copy of a resource housed within the BDC, you must ask for permission to do so from the Historical Resources Coordinator.

We grant permission to reproduce images from our Beaufort District Collection under limited criteria. Please consult with the us about how to obtain permission to reproduce images owned by the Beaufort County Library. 

Many of Beaufort’s family and public records prior to the 20th century were lost to fire, war, and neglect. Staff will be happy to discuss existing resources that are relevant to your research and potential strategies for accommodating the significant loss of our records.

We select and stock books and DVDs in the "Local History" sections at each of the BCL branch libraries.  We provide access to the Ancestry Library Edition subscription database to visitors of our library facilities and microfilm to the Beaufort Branch and Hilton Head Island Branch libraries. Plus, we coordinate or present programs about local history, archaeology, and our coastal environment, including the occasional instructional session about how to perform historical and/or genealogical research around the library system or for community groups.

How to credit our collections

Librarians, libraries, and other cultural heritage organizations are aware that how information is created, used, and shared in the 21st century is different than it was in the past. For example, sometimes customers wish to share digital content from our online offerings either via social networks or even their own blogs. However we must emphasize that all our BCL content hosted online via the Lowcountry Digital Library and aggregated into the new Digital Public Library of America is copyrighted and all rights are reserved to the Beaufort County Library.


Accordingly, our content hosted via the Lowcountry Digital Library (LCDL) and aggregated on by the Digital Public Library of America, that is, the 300 selections from the Lucille Hasell Culp Collection and the 548 images of the “Phosphate, Farms and Family: The Donner Collection”, is restricted from downloading.  While it is possible for a customer to perform a low-resolution screen capture of an image, we expect that the customer doing so respects our institution’s rights and will credit the image back to the digital collection by providing a link.  

Here is the credit line we prefer be used for the Lucille Hasell Culp Collection online: “Image courtesy of Beaufort County Library, The Lucille Hasell Culp Collection via the Lowcountry Digital Library.” (where the collection name links back to the image within the collection on the LCDL website.) 

Here is the credit line we prefer be used for the “Phosphate, Farms and Family: The Donner Collection” online: “Image courtesy of Beaufort County Library, Phosphate, Farms and Family: The Donner Collection via the Lowcountry Digital Library.” (where the collection name links back to the image within the collection on the LCDL website.) 

When an image used is credited in this fashion, it increases public awareness of the Beaufort County Library, the Lowcountry Digital Library, the Digital Public Library of America and the contribution that archival and historical collections make to community life. Thank you for helping us bring the past to the present, and preserve it for the future.

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