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South Carolina Genealogy

Government records for South Carolina genealogy typically go back to around 1915 though older records may be available through county offices or town clerks.

South Carolina Vital Records

The process for getting birth, death and marriage records in South Carolina is a little more complicated than other states because they issue more than one type of each document.

Starting with birth records, they are strictly limited and the privacy limitations do not expire even for old records. If the person is still living, only the person themselves and their parents are permitted to request copies. If the person is deceased, then any immediate relative can make the request providing they include proof of death with their forms. Non-relatives are not permitted at all.

When asking for a birth record, you should make sure to order the long form if you want all the parental information. The wallet card size form lacks these details as is less valuable for South Carolina genealogy purposes.

Death records are not so tightly controlled, though there are also 2 kinds of records available to complicate things. There are full death certificates and also smaller "statements of death". The privacy rules exist for 50 years, during that time only immediate family members can access the files if you are looking to get the full death certificate. A statement of death will be issued to anyone regardless of relationship but will not have the cause of death included. After 50 years, anyone can get the full certificate as well.

Lastly, marriage records are permanently confidential and full certificates will only be released to either party on the certificate. Others can get a statement that the marriage did occur as well as the date.

All of these documents can be ordered from the Vital Records office in Columbia. The only except is that they only hold marriage records between 1950 and 2009 though. For other years, you will have to contact the probate court office where the marriage took place.

You can get the application forms from the Department of Health website, and send the completed application to the Vital Records office along with the $12 search fee. You will also need to include proof of relationship documentation as well as your own photo ID. You can drop off in person or send by mail (2 to 4 week processing if mailed).

Other Resources

With all the restrictions, you may have better luck getting your documents from other sources for South Carolina genealogy. The South Carolina Department of Archives and History has a public reading room where you can access several historical collections of documents.

They have county court documents, land grants, wills and estate files, military service records, private documents and more. They are located in Columbia, and open Tuesday through Saturday during standard business hours. If you are not in Columbia, you can contact their staff and make a research request. It can take between 2 and 4 weeks to get any document copies back if you are doing so.

State Resources Sites

  • A Guide to South Carolina Genealogy  Look ups, societies, publications available from societies and individuals, lost female ancestors queries, and related links for genealogy research in South Carolina. 
  • Pickens County SC GenWeb  The Internet's best collection of FREE online searchable genealogy data for Pickens, Oconee, Anderson and Pendleton District. Records online: census, marriage, death, cemetery, tax, land, probate, will, church, deeds, bible, military, vital, history.


Death Records and Obituaries



Other South Carolina Resources

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