Research Guides

The South Carolina Room staff have created the guides to show patrons what sources are available for individual research topics such as probate or military records. For information on specific primary sources (several of which appear below in the research guides), please see the Finding Aids page.  The guides are in PDF format and require Adobe Reader to view.

Civil War Guide — This is a list of resources for locating and documenting South Carolina soldiers and military units.

Charleston Area Cemeteries — Lists the cemetery inscriptions books, general history, and microfilm sources in the South Carolina Room holdings, and offers a brief discussion of surviving death records, which may offer burial information.

DNA Research — This is a source guide for understanding and using DNA testing as a tool for genealogical research.  Included are several recommended books for learning about the DNA testing process.

Census Resources — This guide includes a listing of what kinds of census records survive for South Carolina, what census sources are available in the library’s holdings, and also offers research tips for locating persons in the census.

Sources for Lowcountry Immigration — Genealogists interested in researching when their ancestors settled in the Charleston area will learn about what naturalization records and ship passenger lists are available.  The guide also lists books on early settlers to South Carolina.

First Steps in Genealogy — This guide will assist genealogy beginners in understanding how to conduct research, and what kinds of records exist for conducting American family genealogies.  The guide includes a list of online resources, helpful tips, and a general overview of what records exist and how they can be applied to genealogical research.

Births and Baptisms — Lists available birth records for Charleston, Berkeley, and Dorchester counties.  Although the State of South Carolina did not require birth records to be kept prior to 1915, this guide introduces researchers to church records and city birth records for Charleston.

Source Material at CCPL — This guide highlights the wide array of resources available at the Charleston County Public Library for historical or genealogical research.  It lists the run dates of our microfilmed periodicals, availability of phone books and city directories, and birth and death records for the City of Charleston , as well as an introduction to probate and service records in the library’s holdings.  For more detailed information on any of the sources, please see the other research guides and finding aids on the blogsite.

South Carolina Room Flyer — This guide provides an overview to the collections and organization of the South Carolina Room.

Glossary of Land Terms — Researchers who are using land records or conducting property research will find simple definitions for legal terms and types of sources found in everywhere, as well as those specific to South Carolina.

Deed Research and Conducting a Chain of Title — Making sense of deeds and property records can be a daunting task, but is often useful for genealogists wishing to find where their ancestor’s homes and land were located. This is brief introduction to how deeds are organized and indexed, how to format them to trace a historic property from the past to the present or vice versa, and some important steps to start the process. This guide is geared towards resources at the Charleston County Register of Mesne Conveyance, but should be useful for research in other counties as well, as deeds across the state are essentially organized in the same fashion. There is also a list of books in CCPL’s holdings that contain useful deed information abstracts.

World War Two Records for South Carolina — This is a guide to personnel records and genealogical resources for South Carolinians involved in World War Two, including a listing of WWII-specific databases available through, as well as books in the Library’s collection.

Charleston County Marriage Records — South Carolina did not require counties to record marriages until 1911, so researchers often hit a ‘brick wall’ when searching for marriage information. This guide offers a comprehensive listing of abstract books and primary source documents available in the South Carolina Room for conducting marriage record research. Materials include microfilm of Charleston County Marriages 1879-1922, marriage information implied in other records such as probate documents and renunciations of dower, and several books on the surrounding Low Country area and the rest of South Carolina.