Carbonyl sulfide (COS) and other trace gases were measured in firn air collected near South Pole (89.98°S) and from air trapped in ice at Siple Dome, Antarctica (81.65°S). The results, when considered with ambient air data and previous ice core measurements, provide further evidence that atmospheric mixing ratios of COS over Antarctica between 1650 and 1850 A.D. were substantially lower than those observed today. Specifically, the results suggest annual mean COS mixing ratios between 300 and 400 pmol mol−1 (ppt) during 1650–1850 A.D. and increases throughout most of the twentieth century. Measurements of COS in modern air and in the upper layers of the firn at South Pole indicate ambient, annual mean mixing ratios between 480 and 490 ppt with substantial seasonal variations. Peak mixing ratios are observed during austral summer in ambient air at South Pole and Cape Grim, Tasmania (40.41°S). Provided COS is not produced or destroyed in firn, these results also suggest that atmospheric COS mixing ratios have decreased 60–90 ppt (10–16%) since the 1980s in high latitudes of the Southern Hemisphere. The history derived for atmospheric mixing ratios of COS in the Southern Hemisphere since 1850 is closely related to historical anthropogenic sulfur emissions. The fraction of anthropogenic sulfur emissions released as COS (directly or indirectly) needed to explain the secular changes in atmospheric COS over this period is 0.3–0.6%.