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Genealogy Resources at the South Carolina State Library: SC Government Records

The South Carolina State Library may not have the genealogy resources you need for family research, but it has important resources for guiding you on to other places, including state and federal agencies and your own county public library

Historical Records at the State Archives

The South Carolina State Department of Archives and History is a true starting and ending site for family research.  Their website for genealogy includes links to the resources below AND to a request form to submit for some help.

Court Records from South Carolina Courts

Family Court.  The uniform statewide Family Court system was established by statute in 1976. The Family Court has exclusive jurisdiction over all matters involving domestic or family relationships. Pursuant to this provision, the Family Court is the sole forum for the hearing of all cases concerning marriage, divorce, legal separation, custody, visitation rights, termination of parental rights, adoption, support, alimony, division of marital property, and change of name.

Clerk of Court. The Clerks of Court are charged with docket management, receipt of fees, fines and costs, maintenance of all court records, and submission of reports to a variety of state and federal agencies.  In Family Court a Clerk of Court is responsible for the collection and disbursement of court-ordered child support payments, issuance of Rules to Show Cause in cases where court orders have not been followed, and filing of Orders of Protection and transmittal of these orders to the appropriate local law enforcement agencies. The Clerk of Court also serves as the Register of Deeds, formerly called Register of Mesne Conveyances, in some counties.  A list of current Clerks of court is available on the South Carolina judicial Department website.

Register of Deeds.  On January 1, 1998, the name of the office changed from Register of Mesne Conveyances (RMC) to Register of Deeds (RoD).

The duties of the Register of Deeds are set out by the Code of Laws of South Carolina. The proper recording of documents provides notice to subsequent purchasers or creditors of the interests of others in the property and establishes priority of claims against that property. Generally, all instruments conveying an interest in real property must be recorded in that county's Register of Deeds in order to be valid. Other documents of public interest may also be recorded by the Register of Deeds.

The Register of Deeds exists as a separate governmental office in 22 counties in South Carolina. In Anderson, Beaufort, Cherokee, Clarendon, Colleton, Georgetown, Horry, Jasper, Kershaw, Lancaster, Oconee, Orangeburg, Pickens, Richland, Spartanburg, and Sumter, the position is appointed by the governing body. In the counties of Aiken, Berkeley, Charleston, Dorchester, Greenville, and Lexington, the holder of the office is elected. In the remaining 24 counties, the functions are performed by the elected Clerk of Court. Please note that Chesterfield County has the statutory authority (Section 30-5-10, SC Code) to appoint a register of deeds; however, at this time, the clerk of court serves in this capacity.  Current Registers of Deeds can be found on the SC Judicial Department website

SC Military Records

To obtain military records for modern-day enlistment, contact the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the U.S. Department of Defense.  For past records, contact the National Archives And Records Administration. See also the bibliography of print and microfilm records of rosters of soldiers provided with this guide.

Vital Records (Birth, Death, Marriage, Divorce) from the Department of Health and Environmental Contol and the State Archives

Obtaining birth records
Birth certificates were required in SC beginning January 1, 1915. 

Copies of birth certificates from 1915 to the present may be obtained from the SC Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC). See their website for additional information and order forms.

A few counties registered some births prior to 1915.  Copies of those records are available at the SC Department of Archives and History. See their website for additional information.
 

Obtaining death records
Death certificates were required in SC beginning January 1, 1915.

Copies of death certificates from 1915 to the present may be obtained from the SC Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC). See their website for additional information and order forms.

Death certificates become public records after fifty years.  Copies of death certificates that are over fifty years old are also available at the SC Department of Archives and History.  See their web site for additional information.

An online index to deaths from 1915-1962 is available from SCDHEC.
 

Obtaining marriage records
Marriage licenses were required in SC beginning July 1, 1911.

Copies of licenses from July 1, 1950 to the present may be obtained from the SC Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC). See their website for additional information and order forms.

Marriage licenses from 1911 to 1950 must be obtained from the Probate Judge’s Office in the county in which the marriage took place. Contact information for Probate Judges may be found at the SC Judicial Department website.

Some early marriage records are available at the SC Department of Archives and History. See their website for additional information.
 

Obtaining divorce records
Divorce was legal in SC from 1868 to 1878 and from 1950 to the present.

Copies of divorce records from July 1, 1962 to the present may be obtained from the SC Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC). See their website for additional information and order forms.

Divorce records from 1950 to 1962 must be obtained from the Clerk of Court in the county in which the divorce was granted.  Contact information for the Clerks of Court may be found on the SC Judicial Department website.

A few early divorce records are available at the SC Department of Archives and History. See their website for additional information