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Nov 07, 2017

Documenting a South Carolina Birth

Example - South Carolina Delayed Birth Index

Birth records are usually the documentation that you seek after you have found the existing death and marriage record for your ancestor. Birth certificates are the hardest to find. Here, we will help you learn how to access birth records in SC and suggest substitute records to use in case your ancestor did not have a birth certificate.

1915 Birth Certificates

1915 South Carolina birth certificates have begun to be made available online as of January 2016. They have reached the 100 year waiting period, so each year you will see a new release.  Next year in 2017, 1916 birth certificates will be made available. You can search for a birth certificate for ancestors born in 1915 in the following ways:

Use the South Carolina Records Archives (SCERA) to search for your ancestor by name. Enter the name in the search field at the top of the page. We wanted to see how many Vances were among the 1915 birth records, so we just searched using that surname (Vance).

Birth Certificate Mildred Vance
Birth Certificate for Mildred Vance
South Carolina, Department of Health and Environmental Control. Birth Certificates, Series S169123, Birth Certificate for Mildred Vance, South Carolina Records Archives, , accessed 12 Aug 2016.


Mildred Vance was born in May of 1915 in Pickens County, SC. You can see from the certificate above that the 1915 birth certificate is rich in detail. The most interesting and useful details that we learn about Mildred are:

  • Father: Charley Reed, Negro, 23, hotel worker, born SC, father of two children, not married
  • Mother: Willie Vance, Negro, 21, cook, born SC, mother  of two children, not married

You can download a .pdf version birth certificates:

PDF Download SCERA
SCERA PDF Download Option


If you do not find the birth certificate by searching for the person’s name, you can also review the following index: 1915 Birth Certificate Index. It is a quick way to review all of the people born in 1915 with the same surname:

SCERA Birth Certificate Index
SCERA Birth Certificate Index


If you would like to browse through each birth certificate, visit this link where birth certificates are arranged by month and alphabetically by county:

SCERA Browse by County
SCERA Browse by County

Ordering a Birth Certificate

Keeping in mind that birth certificates were officially recorded starting in 1915, you can order the birth record of your ancestor with the full name and date and place of birth. According to the FamilySearch Wiki article How to Find South Carolina Birth Records, South Carolina has the following restrictions for obtaining birth certificates:

To obtain a copy of the birth certificate, you must be:

  • The person on the certificate (if you are at least 18 years old)
  • The parent of the person on the certificate
  • The legal guardian of the person on the certificate
  • If the person is deceased:
    • Immediate family members who supply an original certified copy of the person’s death record
    • Anyone who has legal interest in the certificate

Earlier Births

If your ancestor was born prior to 1915, chances are they applied for a delayed birth certificate.  Even ancestors who were born in South Carolina and migrated to a different state commonly applied for a birth certificate. Search South Carolina Delayed Births, 1766—1900 and City of Charleston South Carolina Births, 1877-1901 at

In the following example, Robert E. Johnson (b. 1878) applied for a SC birth certificate while living in Detroit, Michigan. It includes the names of his parents, age at last birthday, whether they are living or deceased, and their place of birth.

Example - South Carolina Delayed Birth Index
Example – South Carolina Delayed Births

Toward the bottom of the page, we learned that Robert used the family bible that was in his possession to prove his birth information:

Example - South Carolina Delayed Births
Example – South Carolina Delayed Births

In the next post, we will share other records that can be used in place of birth records.

Sharpen the Saw

Search the databases suggested in this post to find your ancestor’s birth. Share ways you have documented the birth of an ancestor on the Facebook post for this article.