Using the Library

Kennedy Room of Local History

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

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.




  • Kennedy Room Staff
  • (864)596-3500 x.1238


  • Monday: 9am - 9pm
  • Tuesday: 9am - 9pm
  • Wednesday: 9am - 9pm
  • Thursday: 9am - 9pm
  • Friday: 9am - 9pm
  • Saturday: 9am - 1pm & 2pm - 6pm
  • Sunday: 1:30pm - 6pm

Kennedy Room

What are you looking for?

Attics to Archines banner 

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.

For additional information, contact Library Administration at (864) 596-3507.

Attics to Archines banner bottom border 

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
  • Spartanburg Herald and Herald Journal Death Index
  • Spartanburg Herald/Spartanburg Journal Death Index
  • Carolina Spartan/Spartanburg Herald Death Index
  • Register of Deaths of Spartanburg, South Carolina
  • Miscellaneous Death Index

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.

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.

Gettysburg painting

The Battle of Gettysburg: Repulse of Longstreet's Assault, July 3, 1863

    Oil on canvas
    90 x 240 inches
    circa 1864-1870
    Artist: James Walker
Johnson Collection logo

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.”

Kennedy Free Press logoThe 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.

    For order information, please contact:
    Laura Perricone
    (864) 596-3500 x.1258
    or select a book below to order through

Kennedy Free Press Titles

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.

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 Room’s collection offers a large variety of online research sources for genealogists and history researchers.
Among the source material offered:

The Kennedy Room’s collection offers a large variety of research sources for genealogists and history researchers.
Among the source material offered:

  • U.S. Census material, 1790-1940, on microfilm and through online databases
  • Death information (For more information, please see our Death Indexes information.)
  • Probate records for Spartanburg and many other S.C. counties
  • Colonial state and post-colonial Spartanburg, Cherokee and Union county land records
  • Military records, including the S.C. Revolutionary War Accounts Audited series, the S.C. Compiled Service Records of Confederate Soldiers, and S.C. rosters of World War I and World War II soldiers; as well as military histories with regional relevance concerning the colonial period through World War II
  • Published family histories and the family files of the Pinckney Chapter of the S.C. Genealogical Society and the Piedmont Historical Society
  • Historical map collection
  • News index of the Spartanburg Herald and Herald-Journal
  • Pamphlet file with newspaper clippings on various local and state subjects
The Kennedy Room offers limited assistance to researchers unable to visit us in person. A list of area researchers for hire is available upon request.

General Research Requests
Types of general research requests include:
  • Checking probate and land indexes for specific names
  • Searching S.C. Compiled Service Records for specific Confederate soldiers
  • Checking newspaper index of the Spartanburg Herald and Herald-Journal (not available online) for specific articles
The fee for general research is $5.00 service fee per request and 50¢ per photocopied page (includes shipping & handling).

Ordering Copies of Death Information
Copies of death notices from our newspaper indexes can be ordered. Please list on the form:
  • the decedent’s name,
  • the date the death notice appeared in the newspaper,
  • and the page number on which it appeared, as listed in the newspaper index.
Copies of death certificates can be ordered. To order a copy of a death certificate, please list on the form:
  • the decedent’s name,
  • date of death,
  • and death certificate number as listed on the DHEC index.
The fee for copies of death notices is $5.00 per request (includes shipping & handling). Limit is 10 copies requested every two weeks, whether it is of death certificates, from the newspaper indexes or a combination of the two.

*Note: If a name in the newspaper death indexes has more than one date with it, or is listed more than once, each of these will be considered a separate request.

Image Reproduction and Usage Request
Spartanburg County Public Libraries can provide copies of digital content from the SCPL Historical Digital Collections site in JPG or TIFF format. Digital files are delivered utilizing file sharing applications.

Conditions of Use
Published and unpublished materials may be protected by Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S. Code). It is the researcher’s obligation to determine and satisfy copyright or other use restrictions when publishing or otherwise distributing materials found in the Library’s collections. The Spartanburg County Public Libraries is not responsible for any illegal or improper use of these materials.

For the protection of its collection, the Spartanburg County Public Libraries also reserves the right to restrict the use of unprocessed materials or books and documents of exceptional value and fragility. Use of any material is subject to the approval of the County Librarian.

Any copies of published and unpublished materials provided by the Spartanburg County Public Libraries are for educational purposes. Use of certain published materials and manuscripts for commercial purposes may be restricted by law or donor agreement.

No image containing the identifiable likeness of any individual may be used for commercial purposes, including advertising, endorsement or promotion.

For more information regarding the use of local history materials, please contact the Kennedy Room at (864) 596-3508.

Processing Information
For all requests and orders, please allow approximately two weeks to receive copies or digital files. Prepayment is required for these requests. Check or money orders are accepted. Credit card payments are accepted onsite at the Headquarters Library at the Circulation Department. Rush orders are accepted for processing within 3 business days; additional rush charges apply.

Please make check or money order out to Spartanburg County Public Libraries and mail, along with completed form to:
Kennedy Room Clerk
Spartanburg County Public Libraries
151 South Church Street
Spartanburg, SC 29306

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.