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wood engraving of mill on riverside

During the late 19th century the discovery of phosphate deposits in the Charleston and Florence areas marked the beginning of a rapidly growing industry in South Carolina. Phosphates are rocks formed from the fossilized remains of sea creatures found in areas once covered by oceans. In South Carolina, phosphates were used as fertilizers to extend the life of crops. Freedmen flocked toward the industry seeking employment, and with the financial support of Northern financiers, Carolina farmers began production of this highly sought-after material.

Image of clowns dancing

This collection of pamphlets is from the Irvin Department of Rare Books and Special Collections includes three pamphlets ranging in date from 1838-1927. The topics include an oration on sexual ethics, athletic dance for men and boys and the Proceedings of the Mississippi State Colonization Society.

A handwritten letter

The Richard Furman and James C. Furman collection contains over 750 letters and 18 sermons of Richard Furman (1755-1825), the namesake of Furman University and his son, James Clement Furman (1809-1891), the University's first president who served from 1859-1879.

black and white photograph of an observatory

In 2011 Robert B. Ariail donated an extraordinary collection of historical astronomy to the University of South Carolina and the South Carolina State Museum. Over the past half-century, Mr. Ariail built a collection that encompassed both historic telescopes and astronomical instruments, now at the State Museum, and more than 5,000 rare books and other published items, now housed in the University's Irvin Department of Rare Books & Special Collections.

image of Russell Maxey

The Russell Maxey Photograph Collection at Richland Library includes over 7000 negatives, including images taken by Maxey and earlier photographers. Russell Maxey’s photographs allow researchers a glimpse into a southern city undergoing dramatic shifts in its economic, physical and social landscape. The negatives are housed in the Walker Local and Family History Center.

More Information and Complete Inventory

portrait of Samuel Lander

Samuel Lander, Jr. was born in Lincolnton, North Carolina, of Irish parents who had immigrated to America in 1818. He devoted his life to education and the ministry.  He graduated as valedictorian from Randolph-Macon College (then in Boydton, VA) in 1852. For a short time he practiced civil engineering and studied law. In December of 1853 he married Laura Ann McPherson.

Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps of South Carolina

Originally conceived in the late 18th Century, fire insurance maps provided structural and urban environmental information necessary for insurance underwriters. Founded in 1867 in the United States, the Sanborn National Insurance Diagram Bureau systematically produced ascetically appealing, but also efficient, maps nationwide. This New York firm expanded and grew immensely, finally emerging as the Sanborn Map Company in 1902. Eighteen years later the company effectively monopolized the insurance map industry.

woodcut illustration of a woman sitting at a writing desk

The University of South Carolina libraries have been acquiring works by Scottish authors since the early nineteenth century. With the addition of the extensive G. Ross Roy Collection in 1989, South Carolina now has major research holdings across a wide range of Scottish writing. Indeed, in the words of one recent visitor, it is "the best Burns collection in North America."

Small-Whaley Family Papers, 1796-1994

The Diary of a Voyage to China, 1850-1851, the private diary of Captain Thomas Small, reveals the intense loneliness of command and details the longing he feels for the wife and newborn son he left behind. He comments on marriage, child-rearing, and religion, and frequently expresses his desire to find employment "ashore" to better provide for his family. In addition to these personal entries, he provides rich details of a mid-nineteenth century life at sea.

South Carolina and Civil War

A collection of photographs, manuscripts, books, and maps from the Civil War era from the University of South Carolina Libraries with essays from Dr. Thomas J. Brown and Dr. Dorothy Pratt. This collection will continue to have materials added to it.

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