Richland Library provides online access to treasure trove of history in The State

10/09/2013 7:42 PM

10/09/2013 7:43 PM

Backed by entrepreneurs hoping to prove the Midlands could be an inland port, six military landing craft tanks took off from the Cayce side of the Congaree River in early June 1947 bound for the coast.

It’s a fascinating story mostly lost in time, but like many such tales featured in The State in the 1900s, it’s now easy to find.

Richland Library recently has posted online digitized pages from The State from 1923-1980. You can search by topic or name, and a copy of pages with those terms will pop up. In the past, the only way to research The State archives from that era was by scrolling laboriously through microfilm.

The library’s contract with Newsbank to provide the searchable database fills in a long gap. Pages already were available from 1891-1922, and a separate online archive features stories from 1987 to the present. But most of the 20th century wasn’t available online until recently.

“The new content has been nothing short of amazing for Richland County historians and genealogists,” said Debbie Bloom, manager of the library’s Local and Family History Center. “We are discovering history that we didn’t know we forgot.”

The project isn’t completed yet. Pages are available only through 1982. The final four years will be added soon. Anyone with a library card can search the archives online anytime. If you don’t have a library card, you can go to library branches to do the searching.

Local history buff David Brinkman found the 1947 article on the huge Navy craft plying the Congaree while searching for stories about the proposed Granby port. One of the craft in the Congaree trip reportedly had participated in the Normandy invasion. Another story on the port feasibility study followed Rep. Ryan Shealy in 1959 as he rode water skis from Columbia to Charleston.

“This stuff could mean something to anyone who’s spent a good part of their life in the area,” Brinkman said.

Other local historians already have begun using the new archive, which makes it easier to find specific stories from World War II and the civil rights era. Genealogists also can type in names and come up with details on marriages, births and social events that bring their ancestors to life.

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