The Kennedy Room of Local and South Carolina History and Cleveland Genealogy Department houses an extensive collection of source material for genealogy and history researchers. In addition to books, types of materials in our collection include microform, maps, media clippings, manuscripts, visual arts and access to several online genealogy databases. The materials’ focus is on Spartanburg County but also includes South Carolina and regional information.
Appointments are recommended in the Kennedy Room for Local History & Genealogy patrons. Walk-in patrons will be helped as space and equipment are available. To schedule an appointment, please contact the Kennedy Room staff at least 24 hours in advance at 864-596-3508 or you can use our Contact Us form and select the Kennedy Room department to schedule your appointment. Our staff will pull your requested materials prior to your appointment to improve your research time and our stacks are open for browsing.
The Kennedy Room’s collection offers a large variety of research sources for genealogists and history researchers.
Among the source material offered:
The Kennedy Room’s collection offers a large variety of online research sources for genealogists and history researchers.
Among the source material offered:
|AccessGenealogy - Native American Genealogy Site||Over 240,000 links it is also one of the largest directories of genealogy websites found online|
|AfriGeneas||Discover African-American heritage information|
|American Ancestors||The website for the New England Historic Genealogical Society which has records for many of the original colonies with many free research collections.|
|American History and Genealogy Project||Helpful databases for finding cemetery headstone and burial information|
|American Local History Network||Cooperative network of museums, archives and libraries|
|Christine’s Genealogy Website||A source for African-American genealogy and history|
|Connecting to Collections Care||A great site for learning how to care for archival collections. It is aimed for a professional audience but anyone is welcome to watch their free webinars and use their online resources.|
|Cyndi’s List of Genealogy Links||A comprehensive, categorized & cross-referenced list of links that point you to genealogical research sites online|
|FamilySearch.org||A free genealogy database which includes the United States Federal Census (1790-1940) and an extensive collection of court, land, probate, vital, and church records. Contribute to a wiki-tree once a free account is created. SCPL is a FamilySearch affiliate for microfilm.|
|Genealogy and History Information||By State and County|
|Information on Vital Records by State||United States birth certificates, death records & marriage licenses|
|Irish Genealogy Site||Database of more than 20 million Irish records|
|Map Geeks||An interesting resource for early SC maps|
|National Archives of the United Kingdom||Official archive and publisher for the UK government and guardians of over 1,000 years of iconic national documents|
|Northeast Document Conservation Center||A good source for free information about collection preservation questions.|
|Piedmont Historical Society||Dedicated to the preservation and sharing of historical and genealogical resources and research|
|Pinckney District Chapter of the S.C. Genealogical Society||Chapter information and other genealogy and historical sites on the web|
|S.C. Department of Archives and History||An independent state agency whose mission is to preserve and promote the documentary and cultural heritage of the Palmetto State|
|Slavic/Baltic Genealogy Site||Directory of sites and resources|
|South Carolina Digital Library||The South Carolina Digital Library includes images and documents from institutions across South Carolina for your viewing and research.|
|Spartanburg and South Carolina Military Information||A collection of web sites related primarily to the military history of South Carolina|
|Spartanburg County Historical Association||To preserve and promote the rich history of Spartanburg County through education, community involvement, and sustainability|
|The Library of Congress||In addition to wonderful digital exhibits and collections, they house the free newspaper site Chronicling America.|
|The National Archives and Records Administration||This is the home of US government historical documents. They also coordinate Presidential Libraries and other fun resouces.|
|The Smithsonian Institution||The Smithsonian has robust online resources for parents, teachers, and anyone curious about the world around us.|
|United Kingdom-Specific Genealogy Site||A library of genealogical information of particular relevance to the UK and Ireland|
|Welcome to Glendale||Lots of interesting information about Glendale and eastern Spartanburg County.|
One of the most important and unique offerings of the Kennedy Room is its index of deaths from Spartanburg newspapers. This index begins with the earliest Spartanburg newspaper available, the July 17, 1844 edition of the Carolina Spartan, to the current issue of the Spartanburg Herald-Journal. This comprehensive, ongoing project has yet to complete indexing 1923-1929.Indexes Available
In addition, the Kennedy Room offers the index to South Carolina death certificates from 1915 through 1959, and death certificates on microfilm from 1915 through 1966. The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control has this same index of death certificates from 1915 through 1966 on its website. A plug-in is required to view some of this material, but it is available to download for free at the DHEC site. Once you have found the citation in the index, you may come to the Kennedy Room and look up the record on our microfilm or complete the request process below.
The News Index is a searchable database of local news items from the Spartanburg Herald (with occasional dates from the Spartanburg Journal when the Herald is not available). The Index is a work in progress and currently covered years are 1915-1922, 1931-1937, 1950, and 1960-present. Additional years will become available as staff completes that indexing.
The Kennedy Free Press is the publishing arm of Spartanburg County Public Libraries’ local history and genealogy program. It was created in 2012 to connect modern readers with the community’s rich history through research materials found in the Libraries’ Kennedy Room collections. Its first book, “Awake with Drake: Conversations with a Radio Institution” was published in October 2012 with additional titles, "Trotting Sally" and "Landrum Schools Through the Decades" following in 2014 and 2016, respectively.
Spartanburg Young Readers' History Series
The Spartanburg History Series for Young Readers is designed to educate our community’s children and youth about the people, places, and events that built the Spartanburg County of today. This series was written by former Spartanburg resident, Steve Jobe, with elementary and middle school curriculum standards in mind.
An iconic visual document of a pivotal moment in American history has a new home in downtown Spartanburg. The Johnson Collection’s monumental painting, The Battle of Gettysburg: The Repulse of Longstreet’s Assault, July 3, 1863, has been relocated to the Church Street headquarters of the Spartanburg County Public Libraries. The work is installed and displayed in the Moseley Gallery, one of two new programming spaces on the facility’s upper level.
Measuring 20 feet in length and over 7 feet in height, The Battle of Gettysburg had been housed at the corporate headquarters of Advance America. While open to the public for viewing, the site did not provide optimal accessibility. In an effort to increase the painting’s visibility and maximize its potential as a teaching tool, the library leadership and Johnson family initiated a public-private partnership. “With over a half-million visitors each year, the library headquarters offers the greater Spartanburg community unparalleled access to this compelling record of our nation’s history,” stated George Dean Johnson, Jr. “The Johnson Collection operates on the principle that art should be shared, and The Battle of Gettysburg’s new location will ensure that our neighbors—and visitors to Spartanburg—will have more opportunities to appreciate this particular work of art and the American story it conveys.”
“One of the core roles of the Spartanburg County Public Libraries is to acquire, preserve, and present the historical record,” says Mary Speed Lynch, Chair of the Spartanburg county public libraries' Trustees. “The Gettysburg adds a new dimension to the Kennedy Room of Local and South Carolina History. The Battle of Gettysburg, coupled with the Kennedy Room’s holdings, brings to life one of America’s greatest conflicts. We are proud to partner with the Johnson Collection in the presentation of South Carolina and America’s story.”
An audio tour available on The Johnson Collection website’s mobile application will allow visitors to enjoy an 11 minute narration of the painting’s significance and content.
The Battle of Gettysburg was executed by James Walker (1819-1889), an English immigrant who earned accolades as a painter of battle scenes during the Mexican War, skills he later put to use making sketches of key Civil War conflicts. After the war, Walker began to collaborate with John Badger Bachelder (1825-1894), a photographer and topographic artist who had been attached to the Union army as an illustrator. In the immediate aftermath of the 1863 conflict, Bachelder began an on-site study of the scene and the principals involved. The resulting isometric map led to Walker’s commission to create a massive painting that details the battle’s particulars. Completed in 1870, Walker’s grand canvas captures the dramatic conclusion of the three-day battle, which marked a turning point in the war’s tide. Bachelder’s meticulous research and Walker’s precise technical skill combined to produce an epic visual record of the event, including regimental positions, combat vignettes, Union and Confederate soldiers, noble steeds, victory, and defeat.
“Both casual and serious students of nineteenth century history will find a wealth of information in the Battle of Gettysburg’s presentation,” asserts Johnson Collection curator Dr. Erin Corrales-Diaz. “The monumentality of the painting allows the viewer to become immersed in the scene, yet the detailed vignettes such as Confederate General Armistead handing an aide his pocket watch to give to Union General Hancock, provide a spotlight focus that makes the painting more tangible and accessible.”
Established in 2002 by Susu and George Dean Johnson, Jr., the Johnson Collection includes more than 1,200 works of fine art relating to the American South. The collection also seeks to enrich its local community by inviting the public to interact with these inspiring works of art. Featuring rotating exhibitions, TJC Gallery, located at 154 West Main Street, is open to the public on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons from 1:00pm to 5:00pm, as well as during the city’s monthly ArtWalk. In March, the Johnson Collection and Phifer-Johnson Foundation were recognized with the Governor’s Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Award for the Arts, the state’s highest honor for the arts. The South Carolina Arts Commission noted the Johnsons’ “dedication to arts advancement and arts accessibility.”
In the summer of 1865, only a few weeks after slavery had been abolished in Spartanburg, an African-American woman used her red petticoat and other scraps of fabric to sew an American flag as a bold, hopeful act of patriotism and belief in the advancement of freedom and human rights. A century and a half later, the story of Spartanburg’s emancipation parade and jubilee had been forgotten, but the hand-sewn flag from that day at last returned home. Research suggests that it was created by longtime Southside elder Priscilla Young. Priscilla and her husband Joseph Young were leaders in Spartanburg’s post-emancipation Black community and their biographical details match the recollection of U. S. Army Captain Norris Crossman, to whom the flag was entrusted in 1865. Its unique design and origin at this pivotal moment in American history has earned it the nickname “The Freedom Flag.” Research remains ongoing and the Spartanburg County Public Libraries are proud to present this precious relic from Spartanburg’s very own Juneteenth.
The Freedom Flag is available for viewing in the Cynthia Moseley Gallery at the Headquarters location.
Our “Attics to Archives” program seeks to preserve Spartanburg’s local history through collections of photographs, manuscripts, business records, sound recordings, films and maps. We encourage you to consider donating your collection to our repository, or lend it to us to digitize for our Historical Digital Collections. We can even visit your home or business to evaluate larger collections.
Contact Charity Rouse, Coordinator for Local History, at (864) 596-3500 x.1234, or the Kennedy Room staff at (864) 596-3508 for more details.
We are located on the upper level of the Headquarters Library.
Parking is at the rear of the building off Liberty St. and you enter the building on the middle level of the three floors.
Printing/Copying is $0.15 per page for black/white or $0.50 per page for color. Our microfilm machines also save to USB drives and email documents for free. Patrons living in the Upstate area (Spartanburg, Greenville, Cherokee, Union, Laurens, Polk Counties) must have a Spartanburg County Library Card or a Computer Use Card for copying. Day Passes are issued to patrons living outside the Upstate area.