If you’re wondering what Orangeburg County was like about 200 years ago or at any point since, check the Salley Archives at the Orangeburg County Historical Society for answers.
The Orangeburg County Historical Society is located at 1421 Middleton St. in Orangeburg.
Orangeburg’s own Alexander Samuel Salley (1871-1961), dubbed South Carolina’s “first historian,” was the first person to serve as the secretary of the Historical Commission of South Carolina, now called the S.C. Department of Archives and History, in 1905.
Salley’s love for South Carolina history was great.
Salley published about 70 volumes, in addition to a number of pamphlets, on South Carolina history.
When he took the position with the historical commission in 1905, the state’s historical records were in poor condition and he spearheaded efforts to arrange and preserve large amounts of them.
By the time of his death in 1961, Salley donated funds to the Orangeburg County Historical Society for the purpose of housing and archiving the county’s historical records and other holdings.
In 1967, the construction of the building on Middleton Street was completed and given the name the “Salley Archives.”
According to the Orangeburg County Historical Society, former high school teacher Hugo Ackerman was the lone archivist and historian for the organization from 1966 until his death in 1991.
Ackerman built more than two-thirds of the documents collection as it exists today.
In the late 1990s, under the direction of Alfred and Pauline Gramling, the historical society received a grant to buy archival storage materials and to reorganize the holdings of the Salley Archives to ensure their safety and preservation.
In 2009, volunteers began a project to computerize and digitize the holdings of the Salley Archives.
Some of the items housed at the Salley Archives include books on family genealogies, surveys of cemeteries throughout the county, a collection of old family Bibles, artifacts and some of the county’s historical documents.
The mission of the Orangeburg County Historical Society is to “encourage the study and research of the history of Orangeburg County; to acquire and preserve historical documents and artifacts; to commemorate events and places of significance; to inform and educate the public and make history accessible; unite in fellowship those interested in history; and work cooperatively with other organizations to preserve, protect and promote Orangeburg County’s History.”
The Orangeburg County Historical Society, located at 1421 Middleton Street, Orangeburg, is open on 9 a.m. to noon Tuesday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday and the first Saturday of each month from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.
It is also available by appointment.
The Orangeburg County Historical Society is also reachable by phone at 803-535-0022 and online at www.orangeburgh.org.