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South Carolina Archives Series Description

South Carolina Will Transcripts, 1782-1868 (Microcopy No. 9)  


CALL NUMBER:        S 108093

CREATOR: Dept. of Archives and History. Archives and Publications Division.

TITLE: South Carolina will transcripts, 1782-1868 (Microcopy No. 9)

DATE: 1980

VOLUME: 32.00 microfilm reels and 1.00 volume

ARRANGEMENT: Series arranged by county and thereunder by date of recording.

BIOGRAPHICAL/HISTORICAL NOTE: In the 1930s, the Civil Works Administration (CWA) in conjunction with the Daughters of the American Revolution transcribed most of the antebellum wills of twenty-one counties. Some of the transcripts are from the original wills filed in the Estate Papers series while others were transcribed from recorded copies in estate record books and will books. Subsequently, the Works Progress Administration (WPA) continued the project, transcribing (in most instances) the postbellum Will Books instead of the original wills. The CWA transcripts are published here and constitute a series distinct from the Will Books. In Charleston, where the colonial and antebellum estate papers did not survive, the Will Books were copied. These do not appear on this microcopy, but have been microfilmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah and are a part of the Will Books series for Charleston County. The WPA transcripts of the other counties' Will Books are treated as part of the Will Books series in their respective counties.

SUMMARY SCOPE NOTE: This series is the microfilm publication of transcripts of wills from the following counties: Abbeville, Anderson, Barnwell, Chester, Darlington, Edgefield, Fairfield, Greenville, Horry, Kershaw, Laurens, Marion, Marlboro, Newberry, Pickens, Richland, Spartanburg, Sumter, Union, Williamsburg, and York. Wills from Camden and Pendleton Districts were transcribed and filmed as Kershaw County and Anderson County respectively. 

A will is the legal expression of an individual's wishes as to the distribution of his property after his death. Information in a typical will includes the names of testator, legatees, executor(s), and witnesses; family and other relationships of the testator; testator's wishes as to the distribution of his property; and the nature of the real and personal property to be distributed. As these are all antebellum wills, they will often contain the names of slaves in family or apparent family groupings. In many cases, the transcripts also provide citations for the estate packet in which the will is housed and for the recorded copy of the will in manuscript estate record books or will books.  These citations have been edited and amplified in the document descriptions in the repository's On-line Index, and the obsolete citations for Spartanburg estate packets have been omitted there.

Although the end date of the title of this microfilm publication is 1868, only a small portion of the transcripts date beyond circa 1855. For this reason, the On-line Records Index lists the end date of the series as 1855.

INDEX/FINDING AID: Series indexed in the repository's On-line Index to Will Transcripts. All personal names, including slave names, mentioned in the wills are included. The On-line Index also indexes geographic locations and (as topics) the churches and charitable institutions mentioned in the wills.

The dates when wills were proved or recorded have been entered in the On - Line Index even when they are not present in the typescripts.  Wills are sometimes written many years before a person dies.  Therefore the dates when the wills were written have not been used except for most of the entries in Vol. 3 of the Abbeville District will transcripts, 1839 - 1855, where dates of proof or recording could not be easily determined.

A consolidated index to decedents (only) is available on roll 1 of the microcopy and in manuscript in the repository's Reference Room. A printed introductory pamphlet that accompanies the microcopy provides a more detailed description of the transcripts and the project that created them. An every-name index produced by the repository on three reels of computer output microfilm (COM) in 1991 is incomplete.

A county-by-county decedent index has been published: Mrs. John D. Rogers, Indexes to the County Wills of South Carolina (Washington: Martha Lou Houston, 1946; reprinted, Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1964 & 1975).

ADDITIONAL FORM:  The entire series has been digitized.  The digital images are linked to index hits from the On-line Records Index on the repository's website

REPRODUCTION NOTE: Entire series available in microfilm from this repository.

HIERARCHICAL NOTE: Forms part of the records of the Archives and Publications Division of the South Carolina Dept. of Archives and History.