South Carolina African Americans

From FamilySearch Wiki
Jump to: navigation, search
[[United States|
African American Beauford, SC.jpg
United States]]Gotoarrow.pngSouth Carolina Gotoarrow.pngAfrican Americans

This Wiki page describes research strategies, and major sources of information about African American families from South Carolina. As you read this Wiki page, also study the African American Research Wiki pages, which will help you understand more strategies, and the contents and uses of other African American genealogical records.

Many resources exist that document the lives of African-Americans. Visit this page often to learn about proven stategies and records which will help document African-American progenitors who lived in South Carolina.

A Research Strategy

Genealogical records may not document the names of ancestors per se, but they help to educate us about what life was like for them.

Associates background information. Research the lives of those with whom an ancestor socialized, worshipped, played, and worked. Search repositories for photographs, maps, biographies, journals, histories, and records that document the lives of your ancestors and their associates.

Geographical background information. It is important to research the geographical area and history of landmarks such as schools, churches, and businesses that an ancestor may have frequented.

Archives and Libraries

Museums with African American Collections




  • Motes, Margaret Peckham. Free Blacks and Mulattos in South Carolina 1850 Census. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing co., Inc. Publisher's website.

1868 Agricultural Census

This census exists at the South Carolina Department of Archives and History for the following counties in SC:
Abbeville, Anderson, Barnwell, Beaufort, Charleston, Colleton, Darlington,
Edgefield, Fairfield, Georgetown, Greenville, Kershaw, Lancaster, Laurens,
Lexington, Marlboro, Newberry, Oconee, Orangeburg, Pickens, Richland,
Spartanburg, Sumter, Union, Williamsburg, and York.

1869 South Carolina State Population Census

The 1869 South Carolina State Population Census is available on microfilm at the South Carolina Department of Archives and History (SCDAH). It was the first census taken that lists the African American head of household by name. No other members of the household are named, however, it can be beneficial if an ancestor was not able to be located on the 1870 United States Census.

This index lists the number of children from 6 to 16 by race and gender, number of males over 21 by race, and number of persons of all ages by race and gender. Each of the following counties are available:

Abbeville, Anderson, Barnwell, Beaufort, Charleston, Chester, Chesterfield, Clarendon, Colleton, Darlington, Edgefield, Fairfield, Georgetown, Greenville, Horry, Lancaster, Laurens, Lexington, Marion, Marlboro, Newberry, Orangeburg, Pickens, Richland, Sumter, Union, Williamsburg, and York.

This record is missing for the counties of Kershaw, Oconee, and Spartanburg. See Document your ancestor before 1870 using 1869 SC State Census.

Funeral Homes




South Carolina African American History and Resources has timelines and lessons on topics like slavery, the Civil War, Reconstruction, and the Twentieth Century.


The Richland County Public Library has The Palmetto Leader on microfilm, an African-American newspaper. It contains articles submitted by individuals and churches from many counties across the state. Only the obituaries have been indexed and the index is available online.


Civil War (1861-1865)

See South Carolina in the Civil War for information about South Carolina Civil War records, web sites, etc. with links to articles about the South Carolina regiments involved in the Civil War. The regimental articles often include lists of the companies with links to the counties where the companies started. Men in the companies often lived in the counties where the companies were raised. Knowing a county can help when researching the families of the soldiers. See United States Colored Troops in the Civil War to learn about the regiments and units that served from South Carolina.

The Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System allows name searching for soldiers. The result set gives the regiment for each soldiers. Then you can check the regiment page to determine counties.  Often knowing the counties that had men in a regiment will help you determine if a soldier was your ancestor.

1869 Militia Enrollments

See the Online-Index at South Carolina Department of Archives and History to access the Militia Enrollments of men between the ages of 30 and 45. Enter you male ancestor's last name and then first name, and suggestions will appear below the box as you type his name.  Enter the county where your ancestor was living at this time, and click "search"  leaving all other fields blank.  Online images are available for these records.  Notice in the following example, the men are listed in alphabetical order, and they are not separated by race:

This record is useful for documenting African American male ancestors who were born between 1824 and 1839.

Plantation Records


School Records

Records for extinct African American schools can also be found at the
South Caroliniana Library on the campus of University of South Carolina.

Record types include:

  • Documents generated by the school
  • Student report cards
  • School histories
  • Newspaper clippings

See list of Extinct Schools

Voting Registers

  • South Carolina voter records after the Civil War list African American males separately. They may be the first African American record after slavery.

Other Sources

  • Helsley, Alexia Jones. South Carolina's African American Confederate pensioners, 1923-1925  (Columbia, South Carolina : Alexia J. Helsley, c1998), 140 pages. Listed alphabetically by the person's last name, each entry includes "the petitioner's name, his address, the outfit with which he served, the captain or other officer under whom he served, his length of service," the name of the person who signed the affidavit, and other relevant information included on the applications for pension. Book found at FHL 975.7 M2he and Other Libraries.

Online Resources

Family History Library
1771-1868 Bills of Sale of Slaves and Manumissions: South Carolina.