Collections > Master's Papers > School of Information and Library Science > "A Matter of Self-Preservation": Public Library Development in South Carolina From the WPA to the Civil Rights Movement

In the 1920s and early 1930s, public libraries in South Carolina were among the most underfunded and poorly administered in the United States. Since Jim Crow laws were still in effect, only white citizens had access to public library facilities in many parts of the state. After the Works Progress Administration (WPA) began its Library Demonstration Project in 1933, library conditions improved drastically. However, the WPA effort accomplished relatively little for the state's black population. It was not until the 1950s and 1960s that black South Carolinians began making significant progress toward gaining access to public library services. This paper examines the evolution of public library services in South Carolina from the 1930s to the 1960s, treating the development of services for blacks and the development of services for whites as largely distinct processes.