History of Greenville Overview
With some of the nation's largest textile mills constructed on the city's western edge from the turn of the century to the 1930s, Greenville's "textile crescent" attracted more than 40,000 workers to weaving, spinning and doffing jobs.
Cars and trolley cars started making the downtown scene in the early 1900s, and Greenville was well on its way to becoming the Upstate's economic center. The county's population by 1900 had grown to 53,487.
During that period, cookie-cutter mill houses on a number of villages and two-story Victorian homes for Greenville's well-to-do families on Pendleton, West Washington, Hampton and Pinckney streets dominated the landscape.
With the expansion of textile mills and railroads and the daily migration of newcomers, Greenville was laying the early foundation of the metropolitan, industrial and commercial center it would later become.
A daily newspaper called The Greenville News was established in 1874 by A.M. Speights. A weekly paper called The Mountaineer that had been published in Greenville since 1829 later became The Greenville Piedmont, a daily. It was purchased by B.H. Peace and his sons, owners of The Greenville News, in 1927 and the two papers merged in 1995.
During World War I, the army opened Camp Sevier outside the city, and more than 100,000 soldiers were trained there. A building boom paralleled the military growth, and progressives started a library system, expanded medical facilities and social service centers.
The Army Air Base (Donaldson) brought thousands of airmen to Greenville after World War II, and national companies purchased local textile mills and sold off their villages.
Postwar Greenville grew rapidly with industrial development led by Charles Daniel. Greenville Technical College opened in 1967. Civil rights tensions in the 1960s led to the organization of biracial committees to work together and ensure that racial unrest would not harm growth.
A.V. Huff, author of a history of Greenville, wrote that the Federal Highway Act of 1956 had as profound an influence on the region as the development of the railroads.
Sources: Historic Greenville Foundation; Richard Sawyer's "10,000 Years of Greenville County, South Carolina, History"; and "Famous Greenville Firsts."; Greenville News and GreenvilleOnline.com
Greenville Historical Society
In 1928, a group of citizens interested in preserving the rich history of the area founded the Upper Carolina Historical Society which remained active until the Depression.
In 1961, the work of this early group was again recognized by several "history minded Greenvillians" who formed the Greenville Historical Records Committee.
The present Greenville County Historical Society is the organization founded by the Records Committee and based upon the foundation of the Upper Carolina Historical Society. The Society has over 500 members and a permanent headquarters at 211 E. Washington St, Greenville, SC 29603.
Carolina First South Carolina Historical Room
Main (Hughes) Library
25 Heritage Green Place, Greenville, S.C. 29601
(864) 242-5000, Ext. 2269
Emphasizing history and genealogy in the Upstate
Resources include books, microfilms, microfiche, CD-ROMs, photographs, newspapers, and journals. Staff provide limited research in response to mail, phone, fax and e-mail inquiries.