Whether you're located within South Carolina or across the country (or even the world), if you have had family reside there, you may have tie to the area. This is important to recall while you're trying to sort out your personal genealogy, especially if gaps pop up that need explanation. South Carolina has an extensive archive of records that can help fill in such gaps.
One of the best ways to establish the names and locations of members of your family is to use obituary records. Often, the announcements give information about the surviving members of the family as well as loved ones who have passed away prior to that time. Each of these pieces of information represents a piece of your family tree puzzle.
Obituaries can be important pieces of information, but they can be difficult to find using the methods that we have become used to for gathering information. Often, the Internet does not yield the best results for obituaries because they could date back more than 100 years. Our technology advanced much faster then our ability to get the older form of records input into the new options.
More recent obituaries from the last 15 or 20 years can often be found with a quick search. Many newspapers link to other sites that allow access to obituaries with guest books and places for friends and family to leave messages. These options have created a rich network of more recent obituaries that can be much easier to find. However, if you go outside of that list of information, it may not be as easy to hunt down the announcement that you need. There are many local resources that can be used, and they can all point you in the direction of the information that you need.
If you've realized your search will require more thorough information, an obituary might be the place to start. There is information necessary before that can be acquired, though. The most important detail, before all else, is the name of the deceased. If he or she went by a nickname or was called by a middle name, it won't help your process much. You need the legal name with any applicable middle names.
Once you have the name, you will also need the location of the death or obituary publication as well as the date of the death. If you can't come up with the exact date, do your best to get as close to it as you can. If you don't know where the information was published, then you may need to do some work homework using the other information that you've already discovered to narrow down the area of the publication.
The South Carolina State Library (accessible from the official state government website, SC.gov) does not house the records that would contain obituaries. They have, however, attempted to organize the information contained at the local area libraries into a page that will tell you which archives are available at each branch. This can reduce your search quite a bit, and some of the data is offered digitally. The listing allows you to see not only what is housed there, but get information about the process to requesting copies of archives that are held within.
For instance, the Anderson Public Library will take requests in writing for obituaries, but they require a minimum information of the month and the year for research purposes. The South Carolina Room also holds many different newspapers that are contained on microfilm and microfiche, and they can be perused through by researchers if all of the information that they need to make an official request is not forthcoming.
Beaufort County, however, offers a comprehensive index of the majority of obituaries published in newspapers during the last 100 years. While the text of the actual obituary cannot be accessed online, the year of publication as well as the newspaper that it was published in can be easily tracked down. With that information, it may not take more than a simple call to the library that houses the information to make a request. In other cases, requests must be made in person at the actual branch.
The Spartanburg County Library has an online index of death records that span more than 100 years. Though it again does not list the actual text of the obituaries, it does give access to a fair amount of data that can assist in tracking down the information that you were looking for. You can find the name of the deceased and connect it to both the newspaper and the date when he or she died. All that is required from there is a simple call to the library that houses the information and you should be in receipt of the document quickly.
Accessible Archives offers library members access to full-text copies of obituaries. All they have to do is use their library card information to log in to the Accessible Archives website and search the name of the person in question. Out of County library cards are available for a fee to those who need access to these records as well as the obituary index but are not located within the county. Often, these ancestry websites offer much more data that can be housed within a library building, but they are accessible from anywhere including your couch.
Once you know what information you need, and you plug it in to the varying resources throughout the state, you should be able to track down any obituary that was published. These are not mandated publications, however, and there is always a chance that it was not published at the time of death.