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.
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:
|1895 U.S. Atlas||Contains many towns no longer in existence|
|AfriGeneas||Discover African-American heritage information|
|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|
|Cyndi’s List of Genealogy Links||A comprehensive, categorized & cross-referenced list of links that point you to genealogical research sites online|
|FamilySearch.org||Expanding genealogy collections of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints|
|Genealogy and History Information||By State and County|
|Index to S.C. Death Certificates||South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control vital records|
|Index to Southern Christian Advocate and South Carolina United Methodist Advocate||Index of obituaries that have appeared in the Methodist Conference newspaper, the Southern Christian Advocate, since its inception in 1837, and in its successor newspaper, the South Carolina United Methodist Advocate|
|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|
|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|
|AccessGenealogy - Native American Genealogy Site||Over 240,000 links it is also one of the largest directories of genealogy websites found online|
|Online Census Records||This directory contains links to federal censuses and indexes, state and territorial censuses, tax lists, voter lists, military pensioner lists, and international records|
|Online Native American Genealogy Links||Genealogy records and databases including links to Dawes Commission Records & indexes for individual tribes|
|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|
|Rootsweb||Connecting people so that they can help each other and share genealogical research|
|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|
|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|
|United Kingdom-Specific Genealogy Site||A library of genealogical information of particular relevance to the UK and Ireland|
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 Spartan, to the current issue of the Spartanburg Herald-Journal. This comprehensive, ongoing project has yet to complete indexing 1916 through part of the 1930s.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 1964. The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control has this same index of death certificates from 1915 through 1964 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.
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.
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 will is installed and displayed in the Mosely 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.”
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.