South Carolina Vital Records


Please note that modern vital records (birth certificates, death certificates, marriage licenses) were NOT kept at the State level until the 20th century. South Carolina researchers must search through individual county records, newspapers, church/parish records, and Bibles for birth and death records prior to the 1900s. (See categories below for dates of availability and locations.)

Be sure to check the SCGenWeb county web sites and the SCGenWeb Archives to see if the data you seek is available online.

Birth records

South Carolina did not require birth certificates until 1 January 1915. These records are held by the
Bureau of Vital Statistics
Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC)
J. Marion Sims Building, 2600 Bull Street,
Columbia, S.C. 29201
(803) 734-4830.

Marriage records

The state required marriage licenses beginning 1 July 1911. The probate judge's office in the county courthouse holds licenses issued before 1950. Both the Bureau of Vital Statistics and the county courthouse have copies of licenses issued after 1 July 1950.

Divorce records

Although divorce before 1868 was not legal, a legislative act or the district courts of equity could grant divorce or separate maintenance but did so only rarely. From 1868 to 1878, when a legislative statute again outlawed it, divorce could be obtained in the courts of common pleas. Divorce was legalized in 1950, and the office of the clerk of court in the county where the divorce was granted holds those records. Since July 1962, duplicate divorce records have been filed with DHEC.

Death records

Death certificates were required beginning 1 January 1915 and are restricted from the public for fifty years. The South Carolina Department of Archives and History has the certificates from 1915 to the year before the fifty year restriction. DHEC holds certificates after the fifty year restriction.

Archives & History Center
8301 Parklane Road
Columbia, SC 29223

Vital Statistics
Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC)
J. Marion Sims Building
2600 Bull Street
Columbia, S.C. 29201, (803) 734-4830.


  • South Carolina Death Indexes 1915-1960
    An index to South Carolina death certificates is online at the DHEC web site!
    The data from 1915 through 1949 requires the DjVu plugin to view, and since each index page is an image file in the DjVu format, browsing these years is a bit slow for dial-up connections. The indexes for 1950-1960 are in "web page" format -- much quicker to view.

    --The DjVu plugin can be downloaded from the site and takes very little time to download and install.
    --These are INDEX pages, NOT the actual death certificates, but you will find name, date of death, age at death, and county of death.

  • Social Security Death Index
    There are several of these on the Internet; this one's at Rootsweb.

Church records

Parish registers from churches can provide information on birth and death dates, and marriages. Parish registers of a few early South Carolina churches are extant and some have been published. Published histories of churches occasionally include lists of births, marriages, or deaths.

Records of Baptist Churches are available at Baptist Historical Collection, Furman University Library, Furman University, Greenville, S.C. 29613, and records of the Presbyterian and Reformed Churches are available at the Historical Foundation of the Presbyterian and Reformed Churches, P.O. Box 849, Montreat, N.C. 28757, (704) 669-7061.

The SCGenWeb Project Home Page

Please let me know about any broken links.

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