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SC's critical documents protected at agency's Columbia HQ

Exchange South Carolina History
Bruce Smith/AP
/
AP
FILE - Charles Lesser, a retired archivist for the South Carolina Department of Archives and History and an expert on colonial documents, removes South Carolina's earliest government documents from a vault at the department in Columbia, S.C., on March 27, 2015. Documents dating back to the 1600s are now all on display together for the first time at department, Eric Emerson told the Rotary Club of Aiken Monday, Nov. 28, 2022. (AP Photo/Bruce Smith, File)

Documents dating back to the 1600s can be found at the South Carolina Department of Archives and History 's headquarters in Columbia.

Their paperwork also includes South Carolina's seven constitutions, which were adopted in 1776, 1778, 1790, 1861, 1865, 1868 and 1895.

They now are all on display together for the first time, Eric Emerson told the Rotary Club of Aiken recently at Newberry Hall.

"The General Assembly graciously granted us $200,000 to have them conserved," said Emerson, who is the director of the Department of Archives and History.

He also serves as the Palmetto State's historic preservation officer.

The Treaty of Dewitt's Corner is "the most important Native American treaty that we have," Emerson said. "This treaty was signed on May 20, 1777. South Carolina acquired four counties, and it was the last major land acquisition that South Carolina got.

"All of Laurens County, Oconee County, Pickens County and Greenville County were acquired from this treaty," he continued. "Georgia didn't get anything except that the Cherokees promised not to raid them anymore.

"It was devastating for the Cherokees," Emerson added.

The Department of Archives and History also has South Carolina's Copy of the Bill of Rights.

A longtime Democratic state legislator, Sen. Edgar Brown "found it in the basement of the State House in a wet cardboard box," Emerson said. "It was in terrible condition. It's been conserved."

South Carolina's Ordinance of Secession, issued in 1860, is also in the collection.

"The agency also has really important civil rights documents," Emerson said.

Among them is the original petition for Briggs v. Elliott, which in 1949 challenged school segregation in Clarendon County.