Attention, historians, genealogists, residents of Columbia, South Carolina and anyone else with an interest in the history of South Carolina’s capital city: Minutes of meetings of Columbia City Council during the 19th century are now available online. The first volume of minutes covering meetings from January 1883 to September 1886 is available for viewing here. Other volumes will be available over time..

I learned this from Debbie Bloom, Manager of the Walker Local History Room at the Richland County (SC) Public Library. We were discussing my maternal great-grandfather, Joseph R. Allen, who was auditor for the city of Columbia during the 1890s. I’ll be checking through those minute books periodically to see how often “Pappa Joe” pops up. The digital minute books are part of the South Carolina Digital Library, a collaboration between major libraries across the state..The digital minute book pages are hosted by Thomas Cooper Library at the University of South Carolina.

These are scanned image of the original handwritten pages, not transcriptions, so those not familiar with 19th century handwriting styles (like me) may find these books challenging to read. There is a table of contents with meetings arranged by month and year, and there are links for individual pages in the minute book. Manipulating the image viewing application to view a particular portion of a page may also be a little tricky at first.

Nevertheless, these pages could be a gold mine of information for anyone who wants to know more about historic Columbia. In these pages, important decisions in the city’s past were recorded as they were made by the people who made them.