South Carolina Deaths, 1915-1943 (FamilySearch Historical Records)Edit This Page

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Record Description

Records from 1915-1943 were acquired from South Carolina Department of Archives and History. The collection consists of a name index and images of South Carolina death records. Original records were created by South Carolina Department of Health. Records are arranged by year and alphabetically by locality. {{Collection_Browse_Link

The trend of keeping state-wide death records throughout the United States expanded in the early 20th century after Congress passed a resolution in 1901 asking each state to gather information about births and deaths on a statewide basis. Because Congress did not fund it, it took several more years before it happened in every state. Death certificates were usually filled out by a mortician or medical professional. They filled in the information concerning the death and then obtained personal information on the deceased from an informant, usually a relative. Then, they sent the information to the county, who sent a copy to the state. 

The South Carolina Division of Vital Records is responsible for maintaining and issuing certified copies of vital records, including death certificates for deaths. 

Death certificates become public records fifty years after the death. Deaths from 1915 to 1957 are available to the public at the South Carolina Department of Archives and History Monday through Saturday.City of Charleston death records from as early as 1821 are on file at the Charleston County Health Department. Florence City deaths for 1895-1914 are available at the Florence County Health Department. Newberry City deaths from the late 1800’s are available at the Newberry County Health Department. The state generally achieved compliance after 1915. 

Death certificates were created to record deaths in South Carolina in compliance with state law and to better serve public health needs. They were also used in connection with the probate of wills and the administration of estates. 

Record Content

Information found in most South Carolina death certificates includes:

  • Name and gender of deceased
  • Date, place and time of death
  • City and county in which death occurred
  • Age of deceased in years, months, days
  • Race, marital status and occupation of deceased
  • Name of surviving spouse
  • Birthplace of deceased
  • Father's name and birthplace
  • Mother's maiden name and birthplace
  • Name of informant, often a family member
  • Burial information

How to Use the Records

To begin your search it is helpful to know the following:

  • The place where the death occurred
  • The name of the person at the time of death
  • The approximate death date

Search the Collection

To search the collection fill in the requested information in the boxes on the initial search page. This search will return a list of possible matches. Compare the information about the individuals in the list to what you already know about your ancestors to determine if this is the correct family or person. You may need to look at the information on several individuals comparing the information about them to your ancestors to make this determination. Keep in mind:

  • There may be more than one person in the records with the same name.
  • You may not be sure of your own ancestor’s name.
  • Your ancestor may have used different names, or variations of their name, throughout their life.
  • If your ancestor used an alias or a nickname, be sure to check for those alternate names.
  • Even though these indexes are very accurate they may still contain inaccuracies, such as altered spellings, misinterpretations, and optical character recognition errors if the information was scanned.

For tips about searching on-line collections see the on-line article FamilySearch Search Tips and Tricks.

Using the Information

When you have located your ancestor’s death record, carefully evaluate each piece of information given. These pieces of information may give you new biographical details that can lead you to other records about your ancestors. Add this new information to your records of each family. For example:

  • Use the birth date or age along with the place of birth to find or verify their birth records and parents' names.
  • Use the birth date or age along with the place of birth to find the family in census records.
  • Use the residence and names of the parents (if the deceased is a child) to locate church and land records.
  • Use the parents' birth places to find former residences and to establish a migration pattern for the family.

Tips to Keep in Mind

  • Occupations listed can lead you to other types of records such as employment or military records.
  • The name of the officiator may be a clue to their religion or area of residence in the county.
  • The name of the undertaker or mortuary could lead you to funeral and cemetery records which often include the names and residences of other family members.
  • Compile the entries for every person who has the same surname; this is especially helpful in rural areas or if the surname is unusual.
  • Continue to search the records to identify children, siblings, parents, and other relatives of the deceased who may have died or been buried in the same county or nearby. This can help you identify other generations of your family or even the second marriage of a parent. Repeat this process for each new generation you identify.
  • When looking for a person who had a common name, look at all the entries for the name before deciding which is correct.
  • The information in these records is usually reliable, but depends upon the reliability of the informant.
  • Earlier records may not contain as much information as the records created after the late 1800s.
  • There is also some variation in the information given from one record to another record.

Unable to Find Your Ancestor?

  • Check for variant spellings of the surnames.
  • Check for a different index. There are often indexes at the beginning of each volume.
  • Search the indexes and records of nearby counties.

Known Issues with This Collection

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How You Can Contribute

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Please follow these guidelines as you make changes. Thank you for any contributions you may provide.

Citations for This Collection

Citing your sources makes it easy for others to find and evaluate the records you used. When you copy information from a record, list where you found that information. Here you can find citations already created for the entire collection and for each individual record or image.

Collection Citation:

"South Carolina Deaths, 1915-1943." Database with Images. FamilySearch. : accessed 2015. Citing State Board of Health. Department of Archives and History, State Records Center, Columbia.

Record Citation (or citation for the index entry):

The citation for a record is available with each record in this collection, at the bottom of the record screen. You can search records in this collection by visiting the search page for South Carolina Deaths, 1915-1943.
Image Citation
The citation for an image is available on each image in this collection by clicking Show Citation at the bottom left of the image screen. You can browse through images in this collection by visiting the browse page for South Carolina Deaths, 1915-1943.


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  • This page was last modified on 12 August 2015, at 16:19.
  • This page has been accessed 7,773 times.