South Carolina church records, a substitute for early marriage and vital records, have a crucial part in South Carolina genealogical studies. The Church of England, later known as the Protestant Episcopal Church, was designated the state-endorsed church of South Carolina in 1706. It was tasked with noting down occurrences of births, christenings, marriages, and deaths. From 1706 to 1778, twenty-five parishes were set up, two of which belonged to the Huguenots. The South Carolina Historical and Genealogical Magazine or books have published all existing parish registers. More records from the Protestant Episcopal Church can be found at the Dalcho Historical Society, Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina, located at 1020 King St., Charleston, SC 29403. Refer also to ‘South Carolina Episcopal Church Records‘ by Margaretta, Leland, and Isabella G. Childs in South Carolina Historical Magazine 84 (October 1983): 250-63.
The first Quaker settlers in South Carolina were joined by Irish immigrants in the 1750s and later by Quakers from various regions post 1760. Refer to William F. Medlin’s Quaker Families of South Carolina and Georgia (Ben Franklin Press, 1982). South Carolina Quaker records can be found in the Encyclopedia of American Quaker Genealogy, vol. 1 edited by William Wade Hinshaw (1936; reprint, Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1994).
Huguenots from France began settling in South Carolina in 1685, following land grants along the coast. While most early records are lost, some sources discuss early settlers and their families. Refer to the Transactions of the Huguenot Society of South Carolina, published by the Huguenot Society of South Carolina.
Presbyterians initiated their congregation in South Carolina in the early 18th century, later associating with the Reformed Presbyterian Church. Refer to Inventory of the Church Archives of South Carolina Presbyterian Churches: 1969 Arrangement with Indexes (South Carolina Historical Records Survey, Works Progress Administration, 1969). See Richard N. Cote’s ‘South Carolina Religious Records: Presbyterian Records‘ in South Carolina Historical Magazine 85 (April 1984): 145-52 for more details.
Lutherans, too, established a presence in South Carolina in the 18th century due to German and Swiss settlers. Write to the Lutheran Theological Seminary Library in Columbia, SC to access their valuable early Evangelical Lutheran records.
The first Roman Catholic parish was set up in Charleston in 1789. It is known for maintaining detailed records of christenings, marriages, and burials, which are stored at the Charleston Diocesan Archives in Charleston, SC.
Despite its establishment in South Carolina only in 1783, the Baptist Church is currently the state’s largest religious group. The South Carolina Baptist Historical Collection is housed in the Special Collections of the James B. Duke Library at Furman University, located in Greenville SC. A list of South Carolina Baptist church records on microfilm available for interlibrary loan can be accessed at: https://libguides.furman.edu/special-collections/sc-baptist-collection/microfilm/church-records.
Methodists settled in South Carolina around the same period as the Baptists, in 1783. Their records comprise conference records, membership lists, and historical and biographical data. For these records, reach out to the South Carolina Methodist Conference Archives, located at the Sandor Teszler Library, Wofford College, Spartanburg, SC.
For a comprehensive inventory of South Carolina’s microfilmed church records, consult the Department of Archives and History website. The Family History Library (FHL) also holds an extensive collection of these records. Additionally, the South Caroliniana Library at the University of South Carolina in Columbia maintains some of these church records.
Richard N. Cote’s ‘South Carolina Religious Records: Other Denominations,’ in South Carolina Historical Magazine 86 (January 1985): 50-61 is also worth consulting. This article addresses records from the following religious communities: African Methodist Episcopal Church; Congregational; Unitarian and Universalist Churches; the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ); French Protestant (Huguenot) Church; Jews; Lutheran Church; Roman Catholic Church; and the Society of Friends (Quakers).