The State of Pennsylvania has a rich history, especially from the time that it was a territory, not a state. In the beginning of the 1600s Swedes, English, and Dutch people regularly had disputes in what is now the state of Pennsylvania. In 1664 New York was captured by the English, allowing them to acquire the area that is now Pennsylvania. Then, in 1681, King Charles II granted Pennsylvania to a Quaker named William Penn.
From 1776 to 1800, the federal government was based almost entirely out of Pennsylvania. In 1776 the Declaration of Independence was enacted there. Then, in 1787, the U.S. Constitution was drafted there. Pennsylvania is also home to both Gettysburg battlefield and Valley Forge. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania is home to Independence Hall and a glass pavilion across from it, which is where the Liberty Bell is located. The State of Pennsylvania entered the union as the 2nd state on Dec. 12, 1787. It has 67 Counties.
Getting Started with Pennsylvania Genealogy and Family Trees
Searching for Pennsylvania Genealogy Information – Known as one of the most historic of the states, Pennsylvania has a lot of different people connected to its long history. There are Native American histories, many different immigrant groups’ histories, and a diversity of events that relate directly to genealogy. This is why so many people seek materials for Pennsylvania genealogy projects.
Methods to Use for Pennsylvania Genealogy – Researchers quickly discover that their search for Pennsylvania genealogy data allows them to use many of the online resources to begin acquiring information and even ordering copies of the documents they need.
Unfortunately, there are still many organizations that have not been able to complete such a project, and this means that anyone doing research will also have to familiarize themselves with the different offline locations that will be of use. It is extremely important to familiarize yourself with both sets of tools to use for Pennsylvania genealogy, and how to get the most from online and offline resources.
A Modern Approach for Pennsylvania Genealogy – Public records qualify the most frequently used resources for Pennsylvania genealogy, and they are found in the following categories:
- Local Records – state research will begin in a county clerk’s office, and then expand to include the nearby historical societies, local genealogical societies, small local libraries, and school or college libraries for Pennsylvania genealogy data. These are materials that are usually offline and viewable by appointment or special arrangement.
- Vital Records – these will always cover the basic birth, marriage, divorce, and death records from county, state, and national archives. These might also contain cemetery or obituary information, census records, newspaper items, military records, immigration and naturalization details, and passenger lists and records as well. These are going to be available as online or offline resources for Pennsylvania genealogy.
- State Records – from probate information to private manuscripts, surname lists, newspapers, state census information, marriage details, military or veterans information, land records, maps, estate information, genealogical folders, death records, deeds, birth certificates, cemetery information and more, such records are available as online and offline resources for Pennsylvania genealogy.
Strong Tools for Pennsylvania Genealogy – As a researcher in the current era you will need to learn which tools work for Pennsylvania genealogy, and which provide you with the most information for your particular project. Below we have identified some of the best for Pennsylvania genealogy:
- Division of Vital Records, 101 South Mercer Street, Central Building, Room 401, P.O. Box 1528, New Castle, PA 16103.
This is where anyone can order birth, death, marriage and divorce records via a written request or even online.
Additional state and local records can be found at the:
- Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, 350 North Street , Harrisburg, PA 17120-0090,. With traditional materials available, this archive also includes many private papers, and manuscripts relevant to genealogists.
Also, consider using the resources available through the Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania at: http://www.genpa.org/.
The websites below will provide state-specific details to those in search of information for Pennsylvania genealogy work.
- Pennsylvania Genealogy Network (facebook.com)
- Genealogical Research at the Pennsylvania State Archives (portal.state.pa.us)
- USGenweb – Pennsylvania Genealogy (pagenweb.org)
- The Pennsylvania Archives Online (fold3.com)
- The Pennsylvania Family Group Sheet Project (fgs-project.com)
- Free GenForum Message Boards – Pennsylvania (genforum.genealogy.com)
- Free Rootsweb Message Boards – Pennsylvania (boards.ancestry.com)
- Cyndis List Pennsylvania Links (cyndislist.com)
- Pennsylvania Mailing List (rootsweb.ancestry.com)
- Pennsylvania American History and Genealogy Project (usgennet.org)
- Pennsylvania Migrations Project (pa-roots.com)
- Pennsylvania (wikipedia.org)
- Pennsylvania Genealogy Look Ups (geneasearch.com)
- USGenWeb Archives Project for Pennsylvania (usgwarchives.net)
Pennsylvania Ethnic Group Research
There were several Native American tribes in Pennsylvania, including the Iroquois Five Nations, who came to the western region from New York. Also present were the Shawnee and Susquehannock along the Susquehanna River, as well as the Lenni-Lenape (or Delaware), who were located in eastern Pennsylvania.
There have been several publications relating to the three major immigrant groups in Pennsylvania, which were the Germans, the Irish, and the Scottish. Several Welsh people also immigrated to the area and many of their records have been published as well.
- Ethnic History in Pennsylvania: A Selected Bibliography (1974) by John E. Bodnar
- The Peoples of Pennsylvania: An Annotated Bibliography of Resource Materials (1981) by David E. Washburn, comp. and ed.
- The Quakers: A Brief Account Of Their Influence On Pennsylvania (1948) by William Wistar Comfort
- Immigration of the Irish Quakers into Pennsylvania, 1682–1750 (1902; reprint 1969) by Albert Cook Myers
- The Quakers (1988) by Hugh Barbour and J. William Frost
- Bibliography on German Settlements in Colonial North America, Especially on the Pennsylvania Germans and Their Descendants, 1683–1933 (1937; reprint, 1966) by Emil Meynen
- A Picture of the Pennsylvania Germans (1962) Russell Wieder Gilbert
- Amish Society (1983) by John A. Hostetler
- The Scotch-Irish of Colonial Pennsylvania (1944; reprin 1985) by Wayland F. Dunaway
- Scotch Irish Pioneers of Ulster and America (1910; reprint 1972) by Charles K. Bolton
- Lists of Swiss Immigrants in the Eighteenth Century to the American Colonies, 2 vols (1920–25; reprint 1991) by Albert Bernhardt Faust and Gaius Marcus Brumbaugh
- Merion in the Welsh Tract (1896; reprint 1970) by Thomas Allen Glenn.
- Welsh Families of Pennsylvania, 2 vols. (1911–13; reprinted 1970, 1991) by Thomas Allen Glenn.
- Welsh Settlement of Pennsylvania (1912; reprint 1970) by Charles H. Browning
- Guide to African American Resources at the Pennsylvania State Archives (2000) by Ruth E. Hodge
- Blacks in Pennsylvania History: Research and Educational Perspectives (1983) by David McBride
- Pennsylvania’s Black History (1975) by Charles L. Blockson
- Pennsylvania African American Books (amazon.com)
- Indians of Pennsylvania, 2d ed. (1986) by Paul A.W. Wallace
- Indian Paths of Pennsylvania (1987) by Paul A.W. Wallace
- Pennsylvania Native American Books (amazon.com)