Charleston County Public Library
The Charleston County Public Library is an especially rich resource for South Carolina history and genealogy research. The Charleston County Public Library holds a large number of books, maps, manuscripts, and images covering a wide variety of local history and genealogical topics.
These resources are divided into two separate departments:
The South Carolina Room houses a non-circulating collection of books, maps, microfilm, and other research materials.
The Special Collections department houses unique manuscripts and images, as well as rare books and other print materials.
Research: The Inside Scoop:
The South Carolina Room has microfiche and microfilm copies of some of the records at the South Carolina Historical Society and the South Carolina Department of Archives and History. Their evening hours make it easy to keep your research momentum. Head over there when the other archives close to add a few more quality hours to your research trip!
There is ample, affordable parking available in the parking garage directly beneath the library building.
Notable Collections: South Carolina Room
Church Records - Click to Expand
Church records are among the most valuable for learning more about enslaved and free ancestors in the Lowcountry. Birth and Death certificates were not required statewide in South Carolina until 1915. Before 1915, records of enslaved and free African Americans were kept in church parish registers, which generally listed births, deaths, baptisms, marriages and confirmations.
The South Carolina Room holds early church records for records for 49 churches on microfiche. A finding aid is available onsite with a list of surviving records for each of those churches. Also included in the abstracts are the names of the slaveholding families who were members of those churches. Churches included in this collection are:
- All Saints Episcopal Church, Hampton
- All Saints Episcopal Church, Waccamaw
- Bethany Cemetery, Charleston
- Calvary Protestant Episcopal Church, Charleston
- Chapel of the Holy Cross Episcopal, Sullivan's Island
- Christ Episcopal Church, Mt. Pleasant
- Christ Episcopal Church, Wilton, Adams Run
- Church of the Holy Cross Episcopal, Statesburg
- Church of the Messiah Episcopal, Georgetown County
- Church of the Redeemer Episcopal, Orangeburg
- Convocation of Charleston
- Cumberland St. Methodist Episcopal Church, Charleston
- Epiphany Episcopal Church, Eutawville
- First Scots Presbyterian Church, Charleston
- First United Methodist Church, Marion
- Georgetown Methodist Church
- Grace Episcopal Church, Charleston
- Holy Communion Episcopal Church
- Independent Congregational Church, Dorchester
- Mariner's Church, Charleston
- Prince Frederick Winyah Episcopal Church, Georgetown County
- Prince George Episcopal Church, Georgetown County
- Prince William Episcopal Parish Church, McPhersonville
- Protestant Episcopal Church, Diocese of South Carolina
- St. Andrews Episcopal Church, Charleston
- St. Andrews Episcopal Church, Mt. Pleasant
- St. Bartholomews Episcopal Church, Colleton County
- St. Helena Episcopal Church, Beaufort
- St. James Episcopal Church, James Island
- St. James Santee Episcopal Church, McClellanville
- St. James United Methodist Church, Charleston
- St. Johns Berkeley Parish
- St. Johns Episcopal Church, Johns Island
- St. Jude's Episcopal Church, Walterboro
- St. Luke's Episcopal Church, Johns Island
- St. Mark's Protestant Episcopal Church, Darlington
- St. Matthew's Episcopal Church, Fort Motte
- St. Matthew's Protestant Episcopal Church, Darlington
- St. Michael's Episcopal Church, Charleston
- St. Paul's Stono Episcopal Church, Charleston
- St. Peters By-the-Sea Episcopal Church
- St. Philip's Episcopal Church, Bradford Springs
- St. Philip's Episcopal Church, Charleston
- St. Stephens Episcopal Chapel, Charleston
- St. Stephens and St. Johns Parishes, Berkeley County
- St. Thomas and St. Denis Protestant Episcopal Church
- Trinity Methodist Church, Charleston
- Unitarian Church, Charleston
- Works Progress Administration (WPA), SC Historical Records Survey
Wills and Probate Records - Click to Expand
Records of Free African Americans - Click to Expand
The South Carolina Room holds print and microfilm resources for documenting African American ancestors who were free before the Civil War. Among these are:
- State Free Negro Capitation Tax, Charleston, South Carolina, ca. 1811-1860: 2 microfilm reels, finding aid available onsite.
- Charleston Capitation Books - Free People of Color, 1852-1864: These supplement the State Free Negro Capitation Tax records, they were likely compiled by the city of Charleston rather than the state of South Carolina. Available on microfilm, finding aid available onsite.
Early South Carolina Newspapers - Click to Expand
Historical newspapers are available on microfilm. Among the holdings are:
- Charleston Mercury, 1822-1868
- Charleston Times, 1800-1821
- South Carolina Gazette, 1732-1786
Print volumes of the index Early South Carolina Newspapers Database Reports (ESCN Database Reports) are available in the South Carolina Room, call number 071.57. These volumes contain a surname and subject index for local news and advertisements in the South Carolina Gazette for years 1732-1780. You can consult this index to determine which volumes of the South Carolina Gazette you wish to view on microfilm.
Freedmen's Bureau Records - Click to Expand
Records of the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands (commonly referred to as the Freedmen's Bureau) are available on microfilm. Among the extensive holdings are:
- Records of the Assistant Commissioner for the State of South Carolina Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, 1865-1870 (NARA Micropublication M869), 44 microfilm reels. Reel Guide available on Lowcountry Africana
- Records of the Field Offices for the State of South Carolina, Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands, 1865–1872 (NARA Micropublication M1910), 106 microfilm reels. Reel Guide available on Lowcountry Africana
- Records of the Education Division of the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, 1865-1871. Roll 35, South Carolina (NARA Micropublication 803), 1 microfilm reel
- Marriage records of the Office of the Commissioner, Washington Headquarters of the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, 1861-1869
U.S.C.T. Records - Click to Expand
Federal Census Records - Click to Expand
State Census Records - Click to Expand
Charleston County Marriage Records - Click to Expand
The South Carolina Room holds microfilm of some Charleston County marriage records (finding aid available onsite). The full collection resides on microfilm at the Charleston County Probate Court, where you may view and print individual records. A searchable name index is online on the Charleston County Probate Court website. Many of the records are available on microfilm in the South Carolina Room. Records from 1897-1906 are missing and are not included.
Return of Deaths within the City of Charleston, 1819–1926 - Click to Expand
Original records are in the Charleston Archive at CCPL, finding aid available online, bound volumes of transcriptions available in the South Carolina Room at CCPL, call no. 975.7915 CITY. Microfilm of the original records is also available in the South Carolina Room.
Notable Collections: Charleston Archive at CCPL
Return of Births in the City of Charleston, 1877-1926 - Click to Expand
23 handwritten ledgers are available in the Charleston Archive at CCPL and on microfilm in South Carolina Room. These records are especially useful because they not only list the birthplace of the child, but that and each of the parents. They often list the mother's maiden name as well. A finding aid is available online.
The City of Charleston Voter Records of 1877 - Click to Expand
This volume contains a compiled alphabetical index of the names and address of 7,189 of the 9,586 men who registered to vote in a municipal election in Charleston, South Carolina, in November 1877. The names included here represent the full spectrum of the city’s male population at that time, including African-Americans, Asians, Caucasians, and Hispanics, from the wealthiest to the poorest citizens.Charleston Archive staff member Celeste Wiley spent many months transcribing the names, addresses, and other data from these 1877 records, and CCPL has made them available in two forms. The South Carolina Room holds a print copy of her work, which includes an introduction, illustrations, and appendices. A bound copy is available in the South Carolina Room under the title “The City of Charleston Voter Records of 1877: An Index of Names Transcribed from the Records of the Commissioners of Elections,” call number 929.39757915 WILEY. Second, a PDF version of this transcription is available for download on the Charleston History Advocate blog.
Records of the Commissioners of the Alms House (Poor House), 1800–1923 - Click to Expand
This collection contains the records of the Commissioners of the Alms House (also known as the Poor House), 1800–1923. The collection is remarkable for the long period of time it spans.
The records consist of Journals, Records and Minutes (1800–1917); Register of Transient and City Poor (1803–1916, incomplete); Letter Books (1822–1876); Ledgers (1827–1910, incomplete); Indentures (1832–1859); Ration Book (1835–1846); Hospital Register (1841–1856); Day Books (1845–1863, incomplete); Physician’s Register of the Cell Department (1848–1849, incomplete); Registry of Deaths (1852–1877); Register of Out-Door Pensioners of the Upper Wards (1852–1865); Register of the Out-Door Pensioners of the Lower Wards (1852–1861); Register of Outdoor Pensioners and Index (1897–1913); Rough Minutes (1872–1911, incomplete); Miscellaneous Loose Materials (1876–1923, incomplete). A finding aid is available online.
Records of the Executive Relief Committee for the Earthquake of 1886 - Click to Expand
The Records of the Executive Relief Committee (ERC), consist of correspondence, financial records, repair vouchers, reports, and other materials pertaining to the City of Charleston’s relief efforts in the wake of an earthquake that struck the city on 31 August 1886. Repair vouchers have been arranged in sequential order and indexed by the recipients’ surnames and street addresses. A finding aid is available online.