South Carolina Department of Archives and History



Summary Guide to State Records

Summary Guide to Local Records

Summary Guide to British Records

Summary Guide to Records of the Confederate States of America Records

Summary Guide to Records of Other States and Nations

Summary Guide to Private Records




 1674 agreement between the Lords Proprietors of Carolina funding sending additional supplies

1674 agreement between the

Lords Proprietors of Carolina

funding the sending of

additional supplies









About the Holdings

The South Carolina Department of Archives and History collects non-current public records, those created, used, or retained by any agency, political subdivision, or governmental body of the state supported by or expending public funds. This includes records from the legislature, judicial system, office of the governor, state agencies, county and municipal governments, school districts, and special purpose districts.  (Archives' Collecting Policy)

Records considered essential to the operation of government, for the protection of the interests of the public, and for the preservation of the state's documentary heritage are regularly transferred from agencies and political subdivisions and added to the holdings through the department's Records Management Program under the Public Records Act of 1973 (Code of Laws of South Carolina 1976, 30-1-10 through 30-1-140). Some records, particularly county records, are microfilmed. This film is added to the holdings, and the originals are generally returned to the county for their use. The department also collects copies of records of or relating to South Carolina government from sources such as the National Archives and other federal agencies, the British Public Records Office, and private sources.

The records span from a 1671 deed for a town lot on Albermarle Point, the earliest original record, to present-day agency publications. Records are found in a wide variety of formats--original documents and manuscripts, published works, microfilm and microfiche of original or published documents, photographs, maps, drawings, audio and video recordings, and electronic records.




Restricted Records

All records are open for public use in the Reference Room under the Freedom of Information Act unless specifically restricted by law or legal agreement, or the physical condition of the record would be endangered through handling. For information about restrictions, please contact our Search Room at 803-896-6104.

The holdings are arranged into seven broad collections--British Records, Records of the Confederate States of America, Federal Records, Local Records (county and municipal government records), Government Records of Other States and Nations, Private Records, and State Records. Within these collections, records are arranged in record series under the archival principle of provenance, or office of origin (i.e., by the agency or government body or entity that created and used the record).

A record series is defined as a group of identical or related records that can be evaluated as a unit because they are normally filed, used, and disposed of together (i.e., minutes, correspondence, estate papers, marriage licenses, etc.). The more heavily used series have been processed as close as possible to the original order in which the originating agency maintained them.

Information about records in our collection may be accessed:

  • through SCArchCat, the online catalog to our holdings with summary level information on all series, full descriptions of over half of the series, and lists of containers and folders for many of the series.  The catalog allows searching by keyword, subjects, and titles at each level (series, record group, container/folder, or item) or all levels combined
  • through the web version of The South Carolina Archives Summary Guide to Holdings
  • through the On-line Records Index, an item-level index to selected colonial, state, and county record series














About the Summary Guide

The South Carolina Archives Summary Guide to Holdings is a listing of summary information on every record series in the department's archival holdings. Those holdings now include 12,068 record series, a total of 33,529 cubic feet of paper records and 26,917 microfilm reels.  These records are available for use in the Reference Room. A separate guide exists for each of the seven collections.

Within each collection, the entries are arranged by records creator, that is the entity of origin or the entity inheriting the records and functions of a predecessor entity. Selecting the guide to a collection will link to a short overview of that collection, instructions for using the summary guide specific to that collection, and an alphabetical listing. Choose the letter corresponding to the beginning letter or primary word/keyword of the entity to link to an alphabetical list of names for that letter. Cross-references are provided where the name or function of the entity has changed and for many names of divisions or offices. State Agency Names History by the South Carolina State Library is a useful tool for tracing agency restructuring and name changes.

Then select the entity name to link to the listing of record series. In most instances, records are further divided into subgroups, which correspond to administrative units or offices of the agency or political subdivision. Within each subgroup, records are listed numerically by series or call number.  Certain terms and abbreviations occur in the series entries.  In few instances, links are provided to a narrative description of the records series.

Each series entry is composed of the: 

  • series/call number
  • name of the records creator (agency, political subdivision, or other entity and, where applicable, the division or office)
  • title of the record series
  • inclusive date span of the series (i.e., the earliest date and the latest date represented in the series)
  • bulk dates, where applicable (time period into which most of the records fall)
  • quantity of the series (amount of cubic feet, volumes, microfilm reels, or other unit)
  • statement of restriction on use or terms governing access of the series

Access to some types of media requires prior notice. Researchers interested in obtaining more information about record series should contact the State Archives and identify the series/call number and series title when making an inquiry.  

Updated through June 11, 2024


SCDAH Website  ||  Summary Guide  ||  SCArchCat  || 

Online Records Index  ||  SC Electronic Records Archive  ||

Research Questions


For information on our search room services, please contact our research desk at 803-896-6104 or submit a research request.

Please include your complete postal address in your electronic correspondence to us.