Friday, August 24, 2012

South Carolina Death Certificates #1

After spending a week in Monroe County, NY working on my family history I came home and  rejoiced in the great online records in South Carolina.  For anyone who has tried to get a death certificate in New York state you know what I mean.  It is a nightmare.

However, while most SC death certificates (SCDC) are available online through Ancestry, FamilySearch and SCDHEC there are some challenges and tricks to accessing them.  The next three posts are going to focus on those tricks and challenges.

Here are the facts:
* A statewide death certificate system was established in 1915. 
* Prior to 1915 death records were kept at the county level.  Pre-1915 death records are only available for Spartanburg and Charleston County (at least that I am aware of).  We know that Richland County kept pre-1915 death records but their location is unknown. 
* SCDC are publicly available after a 50 year delay so the most current records are 1961.  In January of 2013 the 1962 records will be available.
* The South Carolina Department of Archives and History and the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control house the collection.  There are also a few South Carolina public libraries that have a current microfilm collection including: Greenville Public Library and Florence Public Library.

The largest online resource for SCDC is Ancestry.  The SCDC index is available in both Ancestry.com and Ancestry Library Edition (ALE). Remember, ALE is only available in-house at a public library.  You will have to check your county library system to see if they have it available. 

Ancestry has an index and digitized images for 1915-1955.  Indexed fields are: deceased last name/first name, county of death, date of death, birth year and gender.  Occasionally (enough to notice) the Ancestry digitized image is not the complete death certificate but an image of the original print index.  I will share a trick for getting around this next time!

Ancestry SCDC positives:
largest SCDC online index with digitized images

Ancestry SCDC negatives:
missing images
limited search fields



2 comments:

Richard Warner said...

You told about nightmare, so I think the death certificate retrieval is very hard in New York. Now death records are available according to state rules and regulation. Ancestry.com is the best resource to find death records online.

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