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South Carolina: Local History & Genealogy Resource Guide

Vital Records

Based on the date of the vital event (birth, death, marriage, divorce), determine whether you are seeking a state, territory, county, or parish level record. If the record you are seeking has been digitized, you can access it online, through the projects described below. If it has not been digitized or if you need a certified copy, contact the appropriate state or county office to view the record.

Timeline of Vital Records

Birth Records
  • State Level, 1915 to present: South Carolina Department of Health, Division of Vital Records.

Note: Pre-1915 births were not recorded by the state with the exception of Charleston beginning in 1877 and Georgetown beginning in 1883.

Also Note: The Church of England recorded christenings, marriages, and burials, which can serve as substitutes for vital records for colonial period.

Death Records
  • State Level, 1915 to present: South Carolina Department of Health, Division of Vital Records.

Note: Pre-1915 deaths were not recorded by the state with the exception of Charleston beginning in 1821 and Georgetown beginning in 1883.

Also Note: The Church of England recorded christenings, marriages, and burials, which can serve as vital records for colonial period.

Marriage Records
  • County Level, 1911 to present: Probate Court.

Note: Pre-1911, canon and common law marriages were recognized.

Also Note: Marriage settlements and premarital agreements dating from about 1760-1890 are available at the South Carolina Department of History and Archives.

Divorce Records
  • County Level: Clerk of Court.

Note: Divorce was illegal until 1949.

Also Note: There are restrictions on availability; please write to individual counties for information.

Online Resources for Vital Records

The subscription resources marked with a padlock are available to researchers on-site at the Library of Congress. If you are unable to visit the Library, you may be able to access these resources through your local public or academic library.

Using Ancestry Library Edition for South Carolina

Begin your search through Ancestry's vast collections, by viewing the list designated as South Carolina records External.

Using FamilySearch for South Carolina

FamilySearch provides useful state and county wikis that make excellent starting points for research. The South Carolina Wiki External includes links to each of its counties.

FamilySearch has digitized many of its microfilms containing county courthouse records. Not all records have been indexed yet, so search engine results may NOT show you the full range of FamilySearch data. You must browse the FamilySearch catalog External listings for each county to view the full set of records available. The vast amount of accessible original records is well worth your time to explore.

There is no fee to use FamilySearch, but you must create a free, personal account to access the databases and digital records.

Obtaining Copies of Vital Records

Contact the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control: Vital Records to learn more about accessing state-level records and explore additional options for obtaining copies.

Published Vital Records

Below are selected print publications for statewide vital records. The following titles link to fuller bibliographic information in the Library of Congress Online Catalog. Links to additional online content are included when available.

To locate additional published materials, go to the Print Resources section of this guide for search tips on locating published county courthouse records, abstracts, and indexes that may aide you in locating original records at the county level.