September was a whirlwind of visitors, lectures, events, discussion groups and performances for the Beaufort District Collection. We have reached almost four times the usual and customary volume of BDC customers with our "Civil War 150" exhibit and supplemental programs during September. Traditionally, October is quite busy, too, as we highlight three annual commemorations in the special collections and archives unit of the library system: Archives Month; Archaeology Month; and Family History Month.
Although the centerpiece of our efforts, the "Civil War 150: Exploring the War and Its Meaning through the Words of Those Who Lived It" traveling exhibit has moved along to its next destination, the library system and its partners have plenty more Civil War-related activities scheduled through the end of October. Details: www.beaufortcountylibrary.org/civilwar.
The BDC has one final contribution to the "One County Reads the Civil War" project: the fourth annual Behind-the-Scenes Tour to celebrate Archives Month. Each year, the tour features a different theme. Fittingly, staff will highlight significant Civil War items within our collection this year at 2 p.m. Oct. 12. The tour will last about an hour and a half. Thirty lucky people will learn how we care for the materials within the special collections and archives unit, how we share some of those materials in the research room and the online "Virtual BDC," and the opportunity to get up-close and personal with some of our Civil War-related treasures. Although we do group tours (five to 15 people being the ideal) by prior arrangement throughout the year, this will be the only tour offered to individual members of the general public this year. There is no charge to attend. There are only a few slots left for those individuals older than 12 who are interested in learning about what we have, what we do, and how we share what we have with the community -- and indeed, in some cases, the world. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 843-255-6468 to register.
The Beaufort County Planning Department and Beaufort County Library have co-sponsored Archaeology Month programs during October for almost a decade now. This year, we are very pleased to collaborate with the Hilton Head Chapter of the Archaeology Society of South Carolina. Two of the Archaeology Month events are being held in the Beaufort District Collection. On Oct. 15, archaeologist Helena Ferguson will talk about efforts to raise awareness about the value of archaeology. A few days later, from noon to 4 p.m. Oct. 19, Dr. Jon Leader and Dr. Eric Poplin will identify objects for the public during the "What the Heck Is It?" session. We have copies of the 2013 Archaeology Month poster, "Public Archaeology in South Carolina" in the BDC Research Room to give away. Drop by during our regular hours of operation, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays to pick up one.
The inaugural Arkhaois Cultural and Archaeology Film Festival gets underway at the Coligny Theatre on Hilton Head Island, Oct. 24-26. The South Carolina Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology, Coastal Discovery Museum, the Humanities Council of South Carolina, and the Arts Commission of South Carolina hope to turn this into an annual event on Hilton Head Island. More than 30 films are set for screening.
All of these Archaeology Month events are free and open to the public.
October is also Family History Month. Approximately 35 to 40 percent of our research room and email customers are interested in exploring their roots. This can be rather challenging as so many of our government records were lost in 1865.
The library system provides access to Ancestry Library Edition year-round to support genealogical research. Although the BDC concentrates on genealogical materials relating to our immediate area, we try to guide anyone interested in pursuing this avocation to appropriate sources of additional information. To facilitate researchers, we offer occasional genealogy workshops, one-on-one research appointments, and telephone reference interviews by prior arrangement throughout the year. Because time and staff are in short supply, we will focus on Family History Month primarily through the BDC's social media this year. Since 2008, we have made almost 100 posts about family history and genealogical matters to our blog, www.beaufortdistrictcollectionconnections.blogspot.com. On our Facebook page, www.facebook.com/BDC.BCL (case-sensitive), expect to see a genealogy hint or tip every weekday during October.
We hope that you will continue to support the efforts and programs of the library system as we note Archives Month, Archaeology Month, Family History Month, and conclude the "One County Reads the Civil War" project.
Grace Cordial is Beaufort District Collection Coordinator at the Beaufort library.