Denise Patterson, SRHS historian

An online time capsule

Boxes filled with 95 years of hospital history used to be locked away for safe keeping in dark rooms.

Now, thanks to a partnership between Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System (SRHS) and Spartanburg County Public Libraries (SCPL), the photographic archives of the Spartanburg Regional Healthcare Museum have gone digital.

These digital archives went live this month to celebrate SRHS’s 95th birthday.

The collaboration creates a digital time capsule, allowing the community to delve into documents and photos dating back to 1921.

Not only does the new archive better preserve delicate historical papers, but it also allows easier access to the healthcare system’s history. Prior to this, the only way anyone could see the collection was to physically visit Spartanburg Medical Center.

“The growth and development of the Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System is central to the history of Spartanburg County and its residents,” said Steve Smith, coordinator for local history and special collections at SCPL. “There so are many valuable individual stories captured in the SRHS museum’s collection. They illustrate care for people, progress in health care, and improvement in our quality of life. Doctors, nurses, employees and staff, administrators, educators, and researchers are all represented. This project will provide broadened access to a vital part of our community’s collective memory.”

“At SRHS, we are committed to collecting, preserving, and exhibiting medical artifacts that tell the story of healthcare in the Spartanburg region. The library is committed to creating access to documents and photographs that tell Spartanburg’s story. Todd Stephens, SCPL’s County Librarian, magnified the vision for this project, explaining that this partnership would allow us to expand the walls of our museum,” said SRHS historian Denise Patterson. “People love coming to look at the historical photos in the museum and hanging in the hospital. Now, they will be able to engage with these archives even further.”

The museum partnership was made possible from grants received from the Spartanburg Regional Foundation and the Spartanburg County Public Libraries. The library also has partnerships with the South Carolina Digital Library and the Digital Library of America, meaning that the documents and images are also linked and available through online resources, statewide and nationwide.

“The library has worked closely with the hospital for the last two years on the digitization component of this piece,” said Gretchen Maultsby, director of collection management for SCPL. “The library is devoted to helping institutions maintain historical records of the entire community.”

The Spartanburg Regional Healthcare Museum is located at Spartanburg Medical Center near the main lobby and across from the gift shop. On display are photographs, documents and artifacts that document the history of medical care in the Spartanburg area from the 1920s to present. Items are added to the collection almost weekly from donors, and SRHS has recently acquired more than 70 additional boxes of photographs and documents. As these items are accessioned and contextualized, more items will be added to the digital collection. 

Visit the Spartanburg Regional Healthcare Museum’s new digital archive at the SCPL’s Historical Digital Collections site.