The Heritage Library Foundation, Inc. is a premier genealogy and Hilton Head Island history research library with locations in Hilton Head Island and Beaufort, South Carolina. We are an all-volunteer non-profit 501 (c) 3 organization. The Genealogy Department maintains a library of approximately 6,000 books related to genealogy and history, along with several subscription databases for the use of patrons. Our History Department documents and creates community presentations on various historical topics or eras.
The library owns two historically significant properties on the island:
• Ft. Mitchel, an earthwork Civil War battery built in 1861/2 by the Union forces that had captured the island in November, 1861.
• Zion Chapel of Ease Cemetery, a post-Revolutionary War cemetery and site of the first Episcopal Church established in 1788, and the Baynard Mausoleum, the oldest existing building on the island
Our volunteers have completed an exhaustive body of work documenting the people and events on Hilton Head Island during the Civil War, which will be available at the conference. This research relates especially to those of African-American descent because Hilton Head Island was a refuge for former slaves during the war. As we continue to add to these Civil War databases, we are extending our study of Hilton Head to the reconstruction era from 1861 to 1896, again tying our history to genealogy, and documenting the effect of Reconstruction on the Sea Islands of South Carolina and Georgia.
In 2015, the library earned the designation as a FACILITY on the National Park Service Underground Railroad Network to Freedom, and as a partner to the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor. In 2016, the library was awarded the Community Service award by the Martin Luther King Celebration Planning Committee.