History of Hilton Head Island: Links & Materials

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History of Hilton Head Island: A List of Links & Materials

Hilton Head Island figures prominently in the history of Beaufort District. Native Americans wandered over the area for centuries before it was first noted by Spanish and English explorers during the 16 & 17th centuries. Sea Island cotton was invented on the island in the late 18th century. During the Civil War era, Mitchelville, one of the first self-governing African American Freedmen’s villages, was established here. Sea Pines Plantation was  among the first planned gated retirement communities established in the United States during the 1950s. Home of the Heritage Golf Classic, Hilton Head Island is a premier tourism mecca.

The Beaufort District Collection (BDC) exists to acquire, preserve, maintain and make accessible a research collection of permanent value which records the history, culture, and environment of the South Carolina lowcountry wedged between the Combahee (pronounced “Kum’ bee”) and Savannah Rivers.  BDC staff and docents are stewards who collect, protect and share unique historical materials about local history, Gullah culture, natural southeastern coastal environment, family history and archaeology of the area now covered by Beaufort County, Hampton County and Jasper counties in South Carolina.


  • Grace Morris Cordial, MLS, SL, CA Beaufort District Collection Manager, Beaufort County Library

Published: Feb 20, 2013

Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License

Version 5

Last edited: All links verified as of June 6, 2016.

A timeline of the history of Hilton Head Island as given by the Coastal Discovery Museum but posted on the Internet on the Town of Hilton Head Island website.

Overall best general history:

975.7 HIL Hilton Head Island: a television history [videorecording] by Southeastern Ecological Institute. Columbia, S.C.: SCETV, no date.  [BDC, HHI]

Best book length history before development of Sea Pines Plantation:

975.799 HOL Hilton Head: A sea island chronicle by Virginia C. Holmgren. Hilton Head Island: Hilton Head Island Publishing Co. c1959. [BDC, BEA, BLU, HHI, STH]

Best book length history mid-1950s to around 1990:

333.7 DAN Profits and politics in paradise: the development of Hilton Head Island by Michael N. Danielson; with the assistance of Patricia R.F. Danielson. Columbia, S.C. : University of South Carolina Press, c1995.  Notes: Includes bibliographical references (p. 301-315) and index. [BDC, BEA, HHI]

See also: Hilton Head Island entry in SC Encyclopedia, pp. 444-445 for three column entry. [ALL]

BDC Vertical Files [available only in the Research Room, 2nd floor, 311 Scott Street, Beaufort]

  • Hilton Head Island (Town)–Government
  • Hilton Head Island
  • Hilton Head Island–Statistics
  • Hilton Head Island–History
  • Fraser, Charles Elbert (1929-2002)

Nancy N. Ciehanski Papers, 1969 – 2001; bulk 1980-1984

Nancy N. Ciehanski arrived on Hilton Head Island in 1979 where she worked for a short time as an Administrative Assistant to Charles E. Fraser.  She quickly became very involved in the political life on Hilton Head Island. She served on at least ten community groups that painstakingly investigated the incorporation of Hilton Head Island into a municipality.  She was elected to serve on the Town of Hilton Head Island’s first municipal council becoming Mayor pro tempore in 1983, and was actively involved with environmental groups and the Hilton Head Island Member-at-Large Unit of the League of Women Voters.  Finding Aid available upon request: gracec@bcgov.net or call 843-255-6446.

On Microfilm

Island Packet newspaper [BEA, HHI]

Harman Collection of Hilton Head [Microfilm] donated by Jeanne Harman; materials organized and indexed by Virginia Adams, Library Volunteer, 1994.  Beaufort, SC:  Beaufort County Records Management, 1994.  Notes: Reel 1. Index thru B-24, 1960-1990 (#1038-2292) — Reel 2. B-25 to MI-25, 1960-1990 (#1038-2294). [BDC, HHI]

George H. Johnston Papers [Microfilm]:  [1861-1871, 1927].  Birmingham, AL :  Dept. of Archives & Manuscripts, 1981.  Notes: A letter to his wife, Amanda, dated 2/6/1862, discusses the beauty of Beaufort and its destruction by Union soldiers; talks of negro soldiers and of the attitudes toward them expressed by the command; ends with a philosophical discourse on Negroes and freedom. [BDC]

Books and Videos

728.8579 MAR Northern Money, Southern Land: The Lowcountry Plantation Sketches of Chlotilde R. Martin, edited by Robert B. Cuthbert and Stephen G. Hoffius.  Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, c2009.  [BDC, BEA, BLU, HHI]

975.700 POR The Story of Cotton by Richard D. Porcher and Sarah Fick. Salt Lake City, Utah: Gibbs Smith, c2005. [BDC, BEA, BLU]

975.799 RAN A New South Hunt Club: An Illustrated History of the Hilton Head Agricultural Society, 1917-1967 by Richard Rankin. Winston-Salem, N.C.: John F. Blair, Publisher, c2006. Includes bibliographical references (p. 117-126).  [ALL]

975.799 TAY Historic Beaufort County: An Illustrated History by Michael C. Taylor.  San Antonio, TX: Historical Publishing Network, 2005. [ALL]

975.799 MAR Remembering the Way it was at Hilton Head, Bluffton & Daufuskie by Fran Heyward Marscher. (2 vols.) Charleston, SC: History Press, c2005, 2007.  [ALL]

975.799 GRE Short & Tall Tales of Hilton Head Island text by Margaret Greer; photographs by Barry Lowes.  Canada : D.W. Friesen, 2004. [BDC, HHI]

975.7 CAR The Evolution of a Town:  Hilton Head Island, South Carolina by Buzz Carota and  Bobbe Carota. USA: Data Reproductions Corp., 2002. [BDC, BLU, HHI]

792.09 HAS The Art is the Thing by H. Morgan Haskell. Hilton Head Island, SC: H. Morgan Haskell, 2004.  [BDC, BLU, HHI]

SC 283.7357 HIS A History of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church.  Hilton Head Island, SC: Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina, 2000. [BDC only]      

SC 973.73 BOL Soldiers, Sailors, Slaves and Ships: the Civil War Photographs of Henry P. Moore edited by W. Jeffrey Bolster. Concord, NH: New Hampshire Historical Society, 1999. [BDC, HHI]

SC 917.57 COA Hilton Head Island by Coastal Discovery Museum, edited by Natalie Harvey. Charleston S.C.; Arcadia Publishing, 1998. [BDC, HHI]

SC 975.7 HIL Hilton Head Island Before the Bridge [Videorecording]: A Panel Discussion by Native Islanders.  Panel members: Charles Frazier, Jr., Helen Frazier Pittman, Mary Houston, and Diogenes Singleton.  Hilton Head Isl., SC: WHHI-TV/The Museum of Hilton Head Island, 1994. [HHI]

SC 975.7 TAY Mike Taylor’s history of Hilton Head Island [sound recording] by Michael C. Taylor.  Hilton Head Island, SC: Brodie Media, Ltd. 1994. [BDC, HHI] 

REF 975.799 FOR The Forgotten History: A Photographic Essay on Civil War Hilton Head Island edited by Charles C. McCracken and Faith M. McCracken. Hilton Head Island, SC: Time Again Publications, 1993. [BDC, BLU, HHI]

975.799 BUR An Island named Daufuskie by Billie Burn. Spartanburg, S.C.: Published in association with Billie Burn Books by the Reprint Co., 1991. [BDC, BEA, BLU, HHI, LOB, STH]

975.799 GRE The Sands of Time: A History of Hilton Head Island by Margaret Greer. Hilton Head Island, S.C.: SouthArt, Inc., c1989. [BDC, HHI]

973.73 CAR Department of the South: Hilton Head Island in the Civil War by Robert Carse. Hilton Head Island, S.C.: Impressions Printing Co., Inc., 1987. [BDC, BEA, BLU, HHI] 

917.57 VIDEO A Video tour of Hilton Head Island [Videorecording]. Hilton Head Island, South Carolina: Shoreline, Inc., 1984 Notes: VHS [HHI]

975.799 SUM “Dear Sister”: Letters written on Hilton Head Island, 1867 by Eliza Ann Summers,  Josephine W. Martin, editor.  Beaufort, S.C. : Beaufort Book Co., c1977.  Notes: Letters written by Eliza Ann Summers. [BDC, BEA, BLU, HHI, STH]

SC 973.781 BAL Dudley Baldwin’s letters from Hilton Head, 1863-1864 by Dudley Baldwin. Washington, D.C. [s.n.] 1977. [BDC]

917.5799 DAN The Gentlemanly Serpent and Other Columns from a Newspaperman in Paradise: From the Pages of the Hilton Head Island Packet, 1970-73  by Jonathan Daniels ; edited by Ralph Hilton ; with a foreword by Elizabeth Boatwright Coker.  Columbia : University of South Carolina Press, 1974. [BDC, HHI]

975.799 LEV Sketchbook of Beaufort County by Renee Levin and Nancy Ricker Webb. Savannah, GA :  Kennickell Printing Co.,   c1971. [BDC, BEA, BLU, HHI]

975.799 JON Port Royal under Six Flags by Katharine M. Jones.  [S.l.]:  Bobbs-Merrill,   c1960.  [BDC, BEA, BLU, HHI, LOB]

929.2 GRA Looking Back: Reminiscences of a Black Family Heritage on Hilton Head Island by Moses Alexander Grant; assisted by Janie Aiken Grant.  Orangeburg, SC : Williams Associates, n.d.  [BDC, HHI]

975.7 BAR History in Development: 1972 – to present by Thomas C. Barnwell, Jr.  Hilton Head Island, SC: Thomas C. Barnwell, [no date].  [BDC, HHI]

917.57 ORR Hilton Head Island: A Certain Place Photography by Jeffrey Amberg, Gary Forcier, Robert Smeltzer; Text by Jim Orr; Designed by Margaret Greer and Patrick Grafton.  Hilton Head, SC: PMJ of Hilton Head, 1981. [BDC, HHI]

917.57 THO Hilton Head Island Images Photographed by William E. Cornelia; Written by Porter M. Thompson; Designed by Richard H. Harrison.  Hilton Head Island, SC: South Arts, 1983.  [BDC, BLU, HHI]

975.7 DIM Camera Man’s Journey: Julian Dimock’s South, edited by Thomas L. Johnson & Nina J. Root. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2002. [ALL]

Archaeological Reports

SC 975.799 CHI The Plantation Landscape: Slaves and Freedmen at Seabrook Plantation, Hilton Head Island, S.C. by Rachel Campo, Michael Trinkley, Debi Hacker ; with contributions by Gina Baylon … [et al.].  Columbia, S.C. : Chicora Foundation, [1998]. [BDC, HHI]

SC 975.799 CHI A Conservation Assessment and Preliminary Preservation Plan for Fort Howell, Hilton Head Island, Beaufort County, South Carolina by Michael Trinkley, Debi Hacker, and William B. Barr.  Columbia, SC : Chicora Foundation, 1997. [BDC, HHI]

SC 975.799 CHI Further Investigation of the Stoney/Baynard Main House, Hilton Head Island, Beaufort County, South Carolina prepared for Friends of Stoney/Baynard Plantation Ruins, the Environmental and Historical Museum of Hilton Head Island; prepared by Michael Trinkley.  Columbia, SC : Chicora Foundation, 1996. [BDC, HHI]

SC 975.799 MIT Mitchelville: Experiment in Freedom.  Columbia, S.C. : Chicora Foundation, 1995. [BDC]

SC 975.7 ADA In the Shadow of the Big House: Domestic Slaves at Stoney/Baynard Plantation, Hilton Head Island by prepared for Friends of Stoney/Baynard Plantation, the environmental and historical museum of Hilton Head Island ; Natalie Adams, Michael Trinkley, Debi Hacker ; with contributions by Arthur Cohen, David Lawrence, Jack H. Wilson, Jr.  Columbia, S.C.: Chicora Foundation, 1994. [BDC, HHI]

SC 975.799 TRI Archaeological Survey of Hilton Head Island, Beaufort County, South Carolina by Michael Trinkley.  [S.l.]: Chicora Foundation, Inc. 1987. [BDC, HHI]

SC 975.799 TRI Preliminary Historical Research on the Baynard Plantation, Hilton Head Island, Beaufort County, South Carolina by Michael Trinkley. Columbia, S.C.: Chicora Foundation, [1991]. [BDC]

SC 975.799 CHI Archaeological Testing at the Stoney/Baynard Plantation, Hilton Head Island, Beaufort County, S.C. by Chicora Foundation.  South Carolina: Chicora Foundation c1991. [BDC, HHI]

SC 975.7 ADA Archaeological Testing at 38BU861, a Middle Woodland Shell Midden on Hilton Head Island, Beaufort County, South Carolina by Natalie Adams.  Columbia, S.C. (P.O. Box 8664, 861 Arbutus Dr. Columbia 29202): Chicora Foundation, 1993. [BDC, HHI]

SC 975.799 TRI The Archaeological Manifestations of the “Port Royal Experiment” at Mitchelville, Hilton Head Island, South Carolina by Michael Trinkley and Debi Hacker. Columbia, S.C.: Chicora Foundation, Inc., [1987].  [BDC]

Social Media:

For Connections [the BDC Blog] entries about Hilton Head Island, including the Silver Anniversary of the Town go to http://beaufortdistrictcollectionconnections.blogspot.com/search?q=Hilton+Head

Materials may be found at the following Beaufort County Library locations:Beaufort District Collection (BDC); Beaufort Branch Library (BEA); Bluffton Branch Library (BLU); Hilton Head Island Branch Library (HHI); Lobeco Branch Library (LOB); and, St. Helena Branch Library (STH). ALL indicates that the BDC as well as all the Branch Libraries hold a copy.

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