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City of Charleston Engineering Scrolls Collection, 1900-1950


The Engineering Scrolls Collection of the City of Charleston Records Center is a series of about 1,100 documents created by the Office of the City Engineer (now the Engineering Division of the Department of Public Service) from about 1900 to 1950. They are finished, diagrammatic representations of data gathered in the field as recorded in the Engineering Field Notebooks by the staff of the City Engineer.  These documents are long, narrow sheets of plain or graph paper, showing streets or roadways, drains, sewers, street  numbering, paving, and similar information regarding the City’s infrastructure. 

Some of the scrolls are horizontal or cross-section (“profile”) representations of data, while others are bird’s-eye views.  Some are drawn to scale, while others are not.  Similarly, some of the scrolls show streets, drains, and sewers “as built,” but others represent proposals or hypothetical arrangements, as of numbering lots and / or buildings. Still other scrolls were used to calculate assessments to property owners for improvements such as paving and sidewalks. Although many of the streets, drains, sewers, buildings, and other items shown on the scrolls have been modified extensively or removed and replaced over the years, researchers may glean important historical data about the City’s built environment by reviewing the Engineering Scrolls. The original depths of sewers, types of materials used in their construction, and subsequent paving are just a few of the many types of information which may be gleaned from the scrolls.     

Most scrolls represent one street, with one or more intersecting streets, and are labeled by the name of the primary street. For example, a sewer profile focusing on Meeting Street between Market Street and George Street would be found under the letter M. A few scrolls which did not contain data strictly about streets (such as those on dredging for the City Marina) were removed from the Engineering Scrolls boxes and placed with similar documents in the Flat Storage map cases.  

In order to facilitate research, a searchable index was devised in the early 2000s and expanded upon in 2011. The index contains fields identifying the primary street, intersecting streets, a brief description of the scroll’s contents, the microfilm roll number and microfilm frame number, as well as the physical location of the scroll. A few scrolls show more than one primary street, and these are indicated in the index by the heading “Various (Streets).” Data on the documents which were removed to Flat Storage was also retained in the Engineering Scrolls index, including the location of the image(s) on microfilm.

 Please note that the scrolls are indexed by the names of the streets in usage when the scrolls and / or Engineering Field Notebooks were created. Because many street names have changed in the interim (e.g., Bay Street is now known as East Bay Street), researchers may wish to consult the detailed information on the “Origins of Names of Streets,” as well as the table and report, “Changes in Names of Streets in Engineering Scrolls Index,” available in the Records Center. 

Researchers wishing to view the microfilm or scrolls should contact the Records Center manager, Meg Moughan at (843) 724-7301 to arrange an appointment. Below is a link to the Engineering Scrolls Index.

Engineering Scrolls Collection, 1900-1950