S.C.'s oldest-surviving government document rescued from near-loss

S.C.'s oldest-surviving government document rescued from near-loss

COLUMBIA, SC (WCSC) - The earliest state government record known to exist is back in the Palmetto State after an extensive restoration.

"The Records of the Secretary of the Province," is a 344-year-old collection of documents including wills, land records and the complete inventory of a business partnership for a plantation of what would eventually be the Lowcountry of South Carolina.

It was described in 1944 as "a battered document having fallen victim to "storms, earthquakes and wars," making it a difficult document to read or preserve, according to South Carolina Department of Archives and History spokesman Geoffrey Hardee.

It was only recently delivered by S.C. Department of Archives and History staff, to the Northeast Document Conservation Center in Andover, M.A. for restoration.

"As early as 1944, futile attempts at restoration fell short and there was fear that its preservation was a matter of uncertainty," author and historian Charles Lesser said. "Fortunately, thanks to our latest efforts, this eloquent document that invokes the beginning of our colony, is now in exemplary shape and will remain so for future generations to come."

"We are fortunate to have been able to save this document." agency director, W. Eric Emerson, said.

All of the documents at the South Carolina Department of Archives and History are stored in special temperature and humidity controlled vaults that reduce further damage caused by these environmental conditions, but the process performed on the "Records of the Secretary," will mean that a similar issue will need not be faced 400 more years from now.

"It's really our gift to the future," Emerson said. "I hope that eventually we will be able to preserve them all, so that our children and their descendents can embrace and learn from our rich history, as we continue to move forward."

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