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Resources Available at the Records Center

The Records Center houses a variety of records generated by departments and divisions of the City of Charleston, which may be of use for both historical and contemporary research. These records document the City’s organizational history and provide important insight into the social, political, and economic history of Charleston.

In 2002, the City transferred some of its older collections to the Charleston County Public Library (CCPL) in order to make the documents more widely available. A list of these records is located on the library website at City of Charleston Records.

The following gives a broad overview of the records held by the City of Charleston and available for research at the Records Center at 2 George Street. Researchers are welcome to make appointments to view many of our records; however, some research requests may require a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.

  • Executive and Legislative Files
    • Mayoral Papers, 1879-1903
    • Mayoral Scrapbooks, 1931-1999
    • Codes of Ordinances of the City of Charleston, 1783-1985
    • Ordinances, Resolutions, and Proclamations, 1800-2015 (with gaps)

  • General Research Files
    • The General Files of the City Records Center contain information of city streets, historic buildings, institutions, businesses, noteworthy persons, and events relevant to the history of Charleston. These files are a useful source of knowledge for anyone seeking a broad overview of a particular subject, person, or place of significance to the City. While largely a collection of newspaper clippings, the General Files do contain some original City documents.

  • Institutional Records
    • Alms House Records, 1801-1917 (Microfilm only. CCPL holds original records)
    • Orphan House and Oak Grove Files, 1803-1979

In 2002, many Charleston Orphan House records over seventy-five years were transferred to the South Carolina Room of the CCPL, where records are processed and open to researchers. Records that were less than seventy-five years old at the time remain with the City’s Records Management Division. Depending on age, the records on file at the Records Center are subject to the following restrictions:

  • To protect the privacy of former residents, access to these files is restricted until the records reach seventy-five years of age. Contact Records Management for more information on accessing these records. The records may be viewed at Records Management, or redacted photocopies may be obtained:
    • By a former resident, upon presentation of a photo ID
    • By a relative of a living former resident, upon presentation of a photo ID and a power of attorney from the former resident
    • By a relative of a deceased former resident, upon presentation of a photo ID and a copy of the death certificate of the former resident
    • By other persons with a court order allowing access to the records upon presentation of a photo ID and a copy of the court order

  • Land and Property Records
    • Building Permits, 1932-2016
    • Certificates of Occupancy, 1978-2015
    • Elevation Certificates, circa 1980s-present
    • Maps and Plats, 1698-1989

Records NOT held by the City of Charleston

Many of the public records frequently requested from the City Records Center are actually issued by other government agencies.

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