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About this collection

The 1825 publication of Robert Mills’ Atlas of the State of South Carolina marked an American cartographic first. This volume is the first systematic atlas of any state in the union. Remarkably, too, no other state atlas of South Carolina was published for the next century and a half.

Nationally noted architect and engineer, South Carolina native Robert Mills received on December 23, 1823 a “sanctioned” (ratified) provisional contract from the General Assembly of South Carolina to publish and sell maps of each of the state’s twenty-eight political divisions known as districts. The agreement authorized Mills’ utilization of state-owned district surveys as a base and in return, the State was to receive free of charge twelve bound editions of the Atlas. In addition, the Superintendent of Public Works was obligated to purchase another fifty copies for $600.00. From 1822 through 1825, Mills redrew the base surveys, converting the larger scales to the atlas standard of two miles to an inch. He added a legend to each map denoting the “geological position,” the bearing and distance from Columbia, longitude and latitude of each county seat, deleted and/or inserted place names and topological features, and standardized the cartographic conventions and typography. The legend of each map bears the original surveyor’s name and notes the map was “improved for Mills’ Atlas, 1825.”

Engraved and printed in Philadelphia by H. S. Tanner & Assistants, the Atlas was presented to the South Carolina Senate on September 29, 1826. The Senate commended the volume as being a “fine specimen of American Science and Art.” Touted as being better than comparable European publications by the American Farmer, the Atlas and its accompanying volume, Statistics of South Carolina, are still in constant use by historians, ecologists, lawyers and genealogists as invaluable research tools.

The Atlas was reprinted in 1938 in a Limited Edition. A new introduction by Francis Marion Hutson of the South Carolina Historical Commission was added as well as hand coloring of the maps by Dan Millsaps, Jr. The digital copy available by the South Carolina Digital Library is copy number 94 of the 1938 edition.

Acknowledgements
Bryan Collars and the South Carolina Department of Archives and History scanned and digitized the atlas. Santi Thompson (MLIS, 2008) created the metadata for the atlas in an Excel spread sheet from the South Caroliniana Library's catalog entry. The metadata records follow the Western States Best Practices Dublin Core format. Collars scanned the atlas on a Zuestchel AO scanner using Omniscan software. He scanned the images as color TIFFs at 24-bit and 300 and 400 ppi. From the TIFFs Collars created high quality JPEGs and added preservation metadata to the TIFF and JPEG images. Thompson uploaded the JPEGs to the CONTENTdm server. Thompson also created a home page for the collection, with the assistance of Robin Copp, who wrote the "About the Atlas" portion.

The work could also not have been done without the help of Tony Branch, of the Systems Department, who is the systems administrator for the CONTENTdm database and helps to manage the computers and scanners in the Digital Activities Department.

 

 
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