African Americans are encouraged to trace family history

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UPSTATE, S.C (WSPA) – As Black History Month comes to an end, historians across the Upstate are encouraging African Americans to utilize free state resources to discover their family history.

The South Carolina Department of Archives and History (SCDAH) have newly revised tools on their website designed to help African Americans learn about their roots.

The tools can trace land patents, deeds, marriage licenses and other state records.

Researchers said their oldest records date back to the 1600’s. Post-Civil War records dating back to the very first U.S. Census are available on the SCDAH website.

According to archive directors, some pre-Civil War records that were stored in courthouses in counties such as Orangeburg, Beaufort, Georgetown Chesterfield were burned during the War.

The SCDAH has created pathways for families in what they call “burned counties” to trace their history. They encourage African Americans to utilize resources such as the Library of Congress or the historical newspaper collection at the University of South Carolina.

For families searching for history related to an enslaved ancestor, researchers said a great way to get more information would be to reach out to the decedents of slave owners.

“When you get back prior to 1865, prior to emancipation, if the people who you are looking for were enslaved then the best way to find out information about them in our records would be to link them up with the slave owner and check records for the slave owner,” Steven Tuttle, director of archives and records management for SCDAH, said.

On Friday, the SCDAH held a “how to” session with tips on how to utilize the resources on their website. Researchers urge anyone who needs help with discovering their history to contact them. For more information, click here.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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