South Carolina Archives
Insurance File Photographs, ca. 1935-1952
CALL NUMBER: S 112113
CREATOR: Budget and Control Board. Sinking Fund
BIOGRAPHICAL/HISTORICAL NOTE: At the beginning of the 20th century South Carolina's public school system was in poor condition. Plagued by constitutional constraints and receiving little support from the General Assembly, rural counties were particularly bad off as they had many small one-room schools to support with limited funds. The 1910s and 1920s saw efforts by the state to increase school efficiency and consolidate the numerous county schools, which led to a flurry of school building. Consequently the value of school property in the state increased by a factor of six over those two decades.
Seeing a need to protect its investment, South Carolina, through the Sinking Fund Commission, began insuring public school buildings in 1919 (S.C. Statute 1918(30)881). Initially limited to schools constructed from brick and concrete, the General Assembly quickly amended the law to include all public school buildings the next year. Looking to decrease costs during the Great Depression, but mandated to provide insurance for public schools, the Sinking Fund Commission created the position of the Special Agent on October 1, 1935. The Special Agent's purpose was to establish contact with local school officials and personally inspect schools as well as other state owned property, such as county courthouses and jails, that the Sinking Fund Commission insured. John Milton Cozert held the Special Agent position and created this photo collection during the inspection process. The inspections carried out by the Special Agent led to much revaluation of school property and increased their adherence to fire and building codes, thereby reducing the costs for insuring the property.
The state rewrote the insurance laws in 1936 (S.C. Statute 1936(39)1668) and continued providing insurance for publicly owned property through the Sinking Fund Commission. In 1950 S.C. Statute 1950(46)1985 continued the program when the Sinking Fund Commission became part of the Budget and Control Board.
SUMMARY SCOPE NOTE: This series consists of
photographs taken by the Special Agent of the Sinking Fund
Commission for insurance purposes. Information with the photograph generally includes the name of the
school or public property, school district for the school photographed,
and county in which the school was located. The types of
structures represented in the photographs include public schools, both white and African
American; teacherages; vocational buildings associated with the
school; hospitals; and some county courthouses and jails. The series does not
include all schools in a particular county. Few or no images are extant for the following counties: Aiken, Anderson,
Beaufort, Berkeley, Calhoun, Charleston, Dorchester,
Edgefield, Greenville, Hampton, Jasper, Lancaster, Lee,
Newberry, Oconee, Pickens, and Williamsburg.
A list of the photographs arranged both by county and by
school name is also available in the repository.