Genealogical information on hundreds of families who lived in the old St. James-Santee Parish and surrounding areas can be consulted by genealogists at the Village Museum in McClellanville.

The information is part of a collection begun when those with family ties to the area sent copies of documents and photos lost during Hurricane Hugo.

Selden "Bud" Hill, a founder of the museum and its director, says the collection has about 80 binders containing 25 to 30 family groups each. Hill and a few volunteers assembled the information to tell the stories of every family who has lived there.

The museum has genealogical information for all planter families and several African-American families from the area, Hill says.

Those who know a lot about their family's history may uncover new information at the museum.

Those who know a little about their ancestors can begin to research them there.

Every plantation that was in the St. James-Santee Parish is represented in the collection, Hill says.

The assemblage of documents includes vital records, wills and photographs, found neither at the South Carolina Department of Archives and History nor at any historical society.

Some of the museum's papers are copies of old records that were later destroyed in courthouse fires.

Other items found there are plantation journals and family correspondences that those researching both black and white ancestors can use.

African-Americans may be able to extend their family trees to slavery by searching for their ancestors' names in plantation records. Whites can use those same documents to break through their own, less obvious genealogical brick walls.

Genealogists who want printouts of family trees from the museum's database can have them and are invited to propose corrections.

The museum's director or volun-teers will research their submissions and make any necessary changes.

Hill says the museum's files tell much more about a person's life than will be found on the Internet.

The goal of the museum is not just to provide names and dates, but to give descendants an idea of who their ancestors really were, even if that means visiting local cemeteries with them.

Genealogical research at the museum is free, but donations are accepted.

The museum is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday (closed noon to 1 p.m. for lunch) and is at 401 Pinckney St., McClellanville.

For more information, call 887-3030.