This second stop on my recent genealogy trip with the South Carolina Department of Archives and History (aka the SC Archive). My mom and I woke up bright and early to get there just after they opened. The Archive is located in Columbia, just off of Highway 277. When we arrived it was raining a bit and there were only two other cars in the parking lot.
Making our way up to the building, the windows were dark and I was a bit worried that I'd gotten their hours wrong. Never fear! The automatic doors swung open we stepped up the the reception desk. Like visiting other archives, we were asked to fill out a form and agree to the rules (no bags, pens, etc). Unlike other archives, we didn't get a researcher card. Instead, our information was put into the computer and they would look us up during future visits. We put our bags into the free lockers and took our notebook, pencils, laptop and camera into the Research Room.
The first thing I did was approach the desk and ask about the room's layout and available records (I'd looked up available county records on their online index, but finding them at the location is a different thing) The very helpful archivist showed us the microfilm index drawer and explained about some of the available materials. Unfortunately, South Carolina records are very spotty, due to a lack of record creation and massive record destruction. For example, government marriage records aren't available until 1911.
We grabbed some indexes for deeds in Lexington and Edgefield Counties and headed to the microfilm readers. There were perhaps as many as 40 of the older hand-cranked microfilm readers available and three of the more modern electronic readers with printers attached. Researchers are asked to take only one film at a time, which will prevent folks from hogging the printers. Mom and I sat down at the manual readers and started hunting for ancestors. I used my laptop and genealogy software to keep track of names and the free wifi to tweet about my experience.
Mom at the machines:
Next stop: Elmwood Cemetery
Also in this series: