Saturday, May 23, 2015

South Carolina Genealogy Society annual workshop

Welcome news! It looks like this year the SCGS workshop is going back to its roots.  Several speakers are South Carolina Department of Archives and History experts.  Some are retired archivists like Chuck Lesser and Alexia Helsley but a new member of the archives, Eric Foley, is speaking as well as director Dr. Eric Emerson. 

After years of staff reductions this is a good sign that the archives staff is getting back into the education business. 

As users we can't take advantage of their resources unless we know about them and understanding their usefulness to our research.

I hope you will be able to attend July 10 and 11 at the SC State Archives in Columbia, SC.  Here is a link to the syllabus.

Friday, April 24, 2015

South Carolina Historical Newspapers for all SC residents

The Richland Library obituary index is a great resource for South Carolina obituaries but unless you have a Richland Library card the bulk of the full text is not available.  However, if you live anywhere in South Carolina I have very good news for you.  The South Carolina State Library recently made the South Carolina Historical Newspaper portion of NewsBank available to anyone with a SC State Library card! Happily, anyone who resides in South Carolina can get a SC State Library card. 

You will need to provide your driver license number as proof of residency. It takes about a week to get the card and then you will have access to a digitized version of The State newspaper from 1891-1990. I always check the Richland Library index for a date then go to Newsbank database for the full text. Of course there is a lot more than obituaries to look up: marriages, births, social events…it’s all in there.  Plan to be up very late!

Friday, April 3, 2015

New Online Resources for South Carolina

Did anyone notice that FamilySearch added South Carolina Confederate Home applications to their published collections?  Yes, the SC Department of Archives and History has indexed all, and digitized some, of this collection. FamilySearch has everything digitized including the applications of the women inmates, who were allowed to enter in 1925.  The Confederate Home and Infirmary, in Columbia, SC, was open to 2 residents from every SC county from 1909-1958.  The application includes the following information: name, age, residence, occupation, relationship (if female), unit, dates of service and closest relative. It is not searchable but it is organized alphabetically so it is not difficult to search. 

Another new resource that popped up is the WPA Inventory of SC Church Archive. Available through the SC Digital Library this resource covers forty-two of South Carolina’s forty-six counties (surveys for Chester, Edgefield, Fairfield, and Georgetown are not extant). The questionnaires gathered information on African-American and white churches in both rural and urban areas, including address, date organized, building description, construction date, and, of primary importance, listings of any known church records.

As I mentioned below HeritageQuest has updated their site and it is now available. It features all of the US federal census with an every name index and nationwide city directories.  If cost prohibits you from using Ancestry then this will be a wonderful free tool for you.  The census and city directory searching is exactly what you will find on Ancestry. Check your public library for access information.

Monday, February 2, 2015

It's about time - HeritageQuest

The long awaited improvements to HeritageQuest are around the corner. We should expect a new release this spring according to the vender, Proquest. Be prepared to update your browsers if you haven't in awhile.  Here's more information:

In the coming months, HeritageQuest Online (HQO) will be materially improved and enhanced with a much richer content set and a more powerful, intuitive interface.
It is anticipated that the improved HeritageQuest Online, powered by Ancestry, will become available in Q1 2015.
What to Expect
For the initial launch on the Ancestry platform, here are some of the new enhancements and content that HQO will include:
  • Complete 1790-1940 U.S. Federal Census with images and every-name indexes for all years
  • Additional census records such as Mortality and Non-Population Schedules, Indian Census Rolls, and more
  • Expanded collection of genealogy and local history books and city directories with an all-new user interface, thumbnail images and hit highlighting
  • Complete Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty Land record collection (NARA M804)
  • Freedman’s Bank Records with full-page register view
  • Periodical Source Index Archive (PERSI), 1800-2009
  • U.S. Serial Set Memorials, Petitions and Private Relief Actions
  • All-new research aids
  • Interactive census maps
  • And more
The product will have a more modern look and feel by moving to the Ancestry platform.
Additional Information
  • All-new image viewer with more functionality
  • Grayscale or color images
  • ADA Section 508 compliance
  • Same authentication methods, including:
    • Static IP address
    • Referring URL
    • Barcode
    • Embedded username/password
New Browser Requirements
  • HeritageQuest Online will be optimized to perform best on current versions of Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Apple Safari, and Microsoft Internet Explorer 9 or newer (we recommend IE 11+).  This gives libraries the most up-to-date security, as well.
  • Microsoft Internet Explorer 8 or older will no longer be supported.  The new HeritageQuest Online may work in discontinued operating systems (such as Windows XP) and browsers, but we will not guarantee compatibility or make fixes.
  • Useful Microsoft Support information about each version of Internet Explorer can be found at

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Mapping the Freedmen's Bureau

Today I am copying a press release about a new interactive website that will be a wonderful resource reconstruction records research. Toni Carrier, is the founder of the Lowcountry Africana website and Angela Walton-Raji is the author of the African-Native American Genealogy blog. Both are excellent researchers and innovators.

New Website Helps Researchers Locate Reconstruction-Era Records for African American Genealogy, History
Did you know that the majority of Freedmen's Bureau records are now digitized and available online for free? Did you know that there are also digitized images of the records of other institutions that served newly-freed African Americans during Reconstruction, such as the Freedman’s Savings and Trust?

Angela Walton-Raji and Toni Carrier have built a new website called "Mapping the Freedmen's Bureau - An Interactive Research Guide" ( to assist researchers in locating and accessing records of the Freedmen's Bureau, Freedmen's hospitals, contraband camps and Freedman's Bank branches.

Researchers can use the website's interactive map to learn which of these services were located near their area of research interest. If the records are online, the map provides a link to the records that tell the stories of newly-freed former slaves in the United States. The site also maps the locations where African Americans who served in the United States Colored Troops (USCT) fought in battle.

The goal of this mapping project is to provide researchers, from the professional to the novice, a useful tool to more effectively tell the family story, the local history and the greater story of the nation during Reconstruction.

The free website “Mapping the Freedmen’s Bureau – An Interactive Guide” is available at

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

New South Carolina historical newspapers

Several new SC titles went live this week on Chronicling America.  They are almost all from Camden and the date range is 1836-1891.

The titles include: Semiweekly Camden Journal (1851-1852); Camden Journal (1836-1852, 1864 & 1866-1891); Camden Daily Journal (1864); Camden Confederate (1864-1865); Journal and Confederate (1865); The Tri-weekly Journal (1865); The Weekly Journal (1865); Camden Weekly Journal (1865-1866)

One title went up from Bamberg, The Bamberg Herald (1899-1916).

The next group should be live shortly and will include: The Bamberg Herald (1917-1922); The Lexington Dispatch (1873-1917); Lexington Dispatch-News (1917-1918)

Friday, November 28, 2014

Richland Library obituary index

We haven’t talked about the Richland Library obituary index in a while and, recently, we have added some interesting features.

The main bulk of the million record+ index is still, of course, The State newspaper obituaries and death notices, indexed from 1891 to 2013.  However, since we are always seeking job security we have expanded our indexing to include marriage records for earlier newspapers.  These newspapers all published statewide information.

The Columbia Daily Union was a reconstruction republican newspaper in Columbia, SC.  It published from January 1, 1872 – July 31, 1877.  Republican newspapers advocated for equal rights among the races and favored the reconstruction government.  They published white and black marriages and obituaries.  Before you get too excited remember that these nineteenth century notices give very limited information and only notices for elite society were published, your sharecropper ancestors will not be in these records. The marriage notices generally provided the maiden name of the woman. The death notices don’t provide much more than a date of death.  For African American researchers this will still be a rich resource.  For example, 244 obituaries were indexed for the 1873 Columbia Daily Union, 41 were African Americans. We have indexed through 1874.
The Columbia Daily Register is another Columbia, SC nineteenth century newspaper that we are indexing. While it is not a republican publication it does provide marriages and obituaries for African Americans, as well as, whites.  For example, in 1882, 131 obits indexed out of 968 were African American.  We also indexed marriages for this publication which published from July 28, 1875-December 3, 1898. We have completed through 1894.

The Palmetto Leader was Columbia, SC’s early twentieth century black newspaper and it published from 1925-1965ish. Microfilm exists for issues between 1925 and 1957 with a lot of big gaps like the WWII years which are completely gone.  However, it does provide lots of vital statistic information including births, marriages and deaths.  We have indexed all of them from about 1930-1957.  1925-1929 has been indexed for deaths only but we will go back at some point and grab marriages and births.  The information is generally very limited but still could be a valuable resource. 

The Southern Indicator is an earlier black newspaper and is digitized on Chronicling America. In fact, all microfilmed SC black newspaper publications prior to 1923 have been digitized on Chronicling America. However, as we discovered, the republican newspapers can also be a valuable resource for black researchers. Very few of those have been digitized. 

Remember this is an index only.  It makes librarians very cranky when we are asked where the full-text is when it is clearly labeled an index.  We provide free scans of records to Richland Library card holders because they pay our bills.  There is a small fee for non- library card users.

Searching works best with last name first.  There is a browse feature under the search tab for alphabetically listings.  If you would like to search a name by year you can search by: any field and limit by: obituaries only then type in a name and year like this shealy 1880.