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Record Groups

The records included in this index have been grouped into broad categories such as Legislative Papers or Plats for State Land Grants.  The categories can be selected from the list in the drop-down bar.  By leaving ALL in place all the records in the entire database will be searched.  In this context “record group” should not be confused with the technical archival term “record group,” which means the records created by a particular institution or agency.



In the advanced search mode you can limit your search to a particular record series, such as the Grand Jury Presentments.  You can also create a chronological or sequential list of all the records in a series by leaving all the other fields blank.



In the basic search mode this program will search for the exact characters you enter and give you all the documents that have been indexed to names that begin with those characters.  For example, if you enter PURCELL, J you will get all documents indexed to Purcell, James; Purcell, Joseph; Purcell, Joseph R.; Purcell, J.; etc.  You can also choose one of the names from the drop-down bar that appears after you type in three or more characters. Upper and lower case letters can be used interchangeably.  If you enter two names linked by AND, the results will include only those documents indexed to both names; two names linked by OR will bring up all documents indexed to either of the two names.  If you shorten (truncate) the name you will get a broader range of documents; for example, if you enter PURC you will get Purchall, Purchett, etc. as well as all the Purcell entries.  Names of slaves and African Americans who were free before 1865 have been entered as Mary (slave) or Mary (free black).


In the advanced search mode you can also select “Use exact match.”  It will give you only those documents indexed to those exact letters, spaces, and punctuation marks.  If you do not select “Use exact match,” the program will give you all documents that were indexed to names that begin with the characters you select.



In the basic search mode you can use locations to limit the results to individuals who have also been indexed to a particular place.  By leaving individuals and other fields blank, you can also use this function to locate all documents indexed to a geographic location.


In the advanced search mode you can limit your results to documents that were indexed to both of two different locations by using AND.  Using OR gives you all the documents indexed to either of two locations.


Names of plantations and baronies have been indexed as topics, not as locations.  Names of tracts (for example, Welch Tract) have, however, been indexed as locations.  Names of forts are inconsistently indexed as either locations or topics. 



The topic (subject) field works in the same way as locations.  You can either limit your results for individuals or locations to documents that have also been indexed to a particular topic or, by leaving individual and location blank, find all the documents indexed to that topic.  For example, by using the location CHARLESTON and the topic BLACKS, FREE you can find all the documents indexed to Charleston that mention African Americans who were not slaves before 1865.


Document Types

A drop-down bar (list) is provided if you want to limit your search to a particular kind of document.  It can also be used if you want to see all documents indexed to a particular kind of document (for example, MANUMISSION). Document types are not present in the data for some of the records in the index.



Months and days from the drop-down bars do not have to be selected.  If you enter only a beginning date, the results will include all documents after that date. You can limit your search to a particular year by putting Jan. 1 of that year in the beginning boxes and Dec. 31 of that year in the ending boxes, but the results will in all cases also include all documents whose date spans include that year.



Checking the box “Use Soundex for Name Search” avoids the problem of exact spelling matches for personal names but results in less precise results.  In earlier times personal names were often spelled in widely different ways, and record keepers often spelled names like they sounded.  The Soundex system was developed by the United States Census Bureau to deal with this problem.  Checking the “Use Soundex” box will automatically convert last names of individuals to the Soundex codes and then give search results for the Soundex equivalent of that name.  For example, there are only a few documents indexed to the last name TUTTLE.  If you use the Soundex option you will also get documents indexed to Tutle and Tootle as well as Tidwell, Tidewell, Tedwell, Twadel, and Twaddle.  First names are ignored when using this option.


Sort Order

In the basic search mode the results of the search are sorted chronologically with undated (no date) items appearing before the earliest dated document.  In the advanced search mode you can choose between a chronological sort or a sequential sort.  The latter is arranged the way the documents themselves in each series are arranged.  Some series are arranged by volume, page, and item while other series are arranged by microfilm reel number and frame number or by box and folder number.


What Was Indexed Varies

The documents included have not all been indexed to the same depth.  Most documents have been indexed to names of individuals and geographic locations, but topics (subjects) have been used more selectively.  For some record series only the names of the principal parties to a transaction have been indexed, while in other series all names mentioned have been included.  Series descriptions that explain exactly how each series was indexed are linked to the list of series indexed and can be accessed through SERIES DESCRIPTIONS on the menu.

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