Pennsylvania County records vary widely from county to county in both quality and quantity. Some have been carefully preserved while others have been much abused and neglected. Some Pennsylvania records have simply disappeared. For genealogists doing research in Pennsylvania there is no effective replace for an on-site search of county courthouse records. For Definitions of all court terms see the Genealogy Encyclopedia

Pennsylvania Counties

There are 67 counties that exist in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Each one holds records that may include: Land, Estates, Taxes, Vital Records, Divorces, Naturalizations, Voter Registration, Court Records. Other records may also be included. However, other resources do need to be consulted. For example, the orphans’ court or register’s office should be consulted for estate records.

Philadelphia became home to an archives in 1952. It is not only the oldest city archives in the state, but also in the entire United States. In 1982, the first county archives in the state was created in Chester County. All other archives in Pennsylvania were modeled after it. Several other archives are currently being established in the state. See also a list of links to county and county seat government run websites.

List of Pennsylvania Counties

CountyDate FormedParent CountyCounty Seat
Adams1800York CountyGettysburg
Allegheny1788Washington and Westmoreland Counties.Pittsburgh
Armstrong1800Allegheny, Lycoming, and Westmoreland CountiesKittanning
Beaver1800Allegheny and Washington CountiesBeaver
Bedford1771Cumberland CountyBedford
Berks1752Chester, Lancaster and Philadelphia CountiesReading
Blair1846Huntingdon and Bedford CountiesHollidaysburg
Bradford1810Luzerne and Lycoming CountiesTowanda
Bucks1682One of the original counties at the formation of PennsylvaniaDoylestown
Butler1800Allegheny CountyButler
Cambria1804Somerset and Huntingdon Counties.Ebensburg
Cameron1860Clinton, Elk, McKean, and Potter Counties.Emporium
Carbon1843Monroe and Northampton Counties.Jim Thorpe
Centre1800Lycoming, Mifflin, Northumberland, and Huntingdon Counties.Bellefonte
Chester1682One of the original counties at the formation of Pennsylvania.West Chester
Clarion1839Venango and Armstrong CountiesClarion
Clearfield1804Lycoming and Huntingdon CountiesClearfield
Clinton1839Lycoming and Centre Counties.Lock Haven
Columbia1813Northumberland and Luzerne Counties.Bloomsburg
Crawford1800Allegheny CountyMeadville
Cumberland1750Lancaster CountyCarlisle
Dauphin1785Lancaster CountyHarrisburg
Delaware1789Chester CountyMedia
Elk1843Jefferson, McKean, and Clearfield Counties.Ridgway
Erie1800Allegheny CountyErie
Fayette1783Westmoreland CountyUniontown
Forest1848Jefferson CountyTionesta
Franklin1784Cumberland CountyChambersburg
Fulton1850Bedford CountyMcConnellsburg
Greene1796Washington CountyWaynesburg
Huntingdon1787Bedford CountyHuntingdon
Indiana1803Lycoming and Westmoreland CountiesIndiana
Jefferson1804Lycoming County Brookville
Juniata1831Mifflin CountyMifflintown
Lackawanna1878Luzerne CountyScranton
Lancaster1729Chester CountyLancaster
Lawrence1849Beaver and Mercer CountiesNew Castle
Lebanon1813Dauphin and Lancaster CountiesLebanon
Lehigh1812Northampton CountyAllentown
Luzerne1786Northumberland CountyWilkes-Barre
Lycoming1795Northumberland CountyWilliamsport
McKean1804Lycoming CountySmethport
Mercer1800Allegheny CountyMercer
Mifflin1789Cumberland and Northumberland Counties.Lewistown
Monroe1836Pike and Northampton Counties.Stroudsburg
Montour1784Philadelphia CountyNorristown
Montgomery1850Columbia CountyDanville
Northampton1752Bucks CountyEaston
Northumberland1772Lancaster, Berks, Bedford, Cumberland, and Northampton CountiesSunbury
Perry1820Cumberland CountyNew Bloomfield
Philadelphia1682One of the original counties at the formation of Pennsylvania.Philadelphia
Pike1814Wayne CountyMilford
Potter1804 Lycoming CountyCoudersport
Schuylkill1811Berks and Northampton Counties.Pottsville
Snyder1855Union CountyMiddleburg
Somerset1795Bedford CountySomerset
Sullivan1847Lycoming CountyLaporte
Susquehanna1810Luzerne CountyMontrose
Tioga1804Lycoming CountyWellsboro
Union1813Northumberland CountyLewisburg
Venango1800Allegheny and Lycoming CountiesFranklin
Warren1800Allegheny and Lycoming countiesWarren
Washington1781Westmoreland CountyWashington
Wayne1798Northampton CountyHonesdale
Westmoreland1773Bedford CountyGreensburg
Wyoming1842Luzerne CountyTunkhannock
York1749Lancaster CountyYork

Pennsylvania Extinct Counties

Pennsylvania has counties that no longer exist. They were established by the state, provincial, or territorial government. Most of these counties were created and disbanded in the 19th century; county boundaries have changed little since 1900 in the vast majority of states. These counties need to be looked at when doing genealogy research. Pay close attention where the courthouse records went to if the county was abolished or combined with another county.

Pennsylvania Counties with Burned Courthouses

The damage to courthouses greatly has a bearing on genealogists in every way. No only are these historic structures torn from our lifetimes, so are the records they housed: marriage, wills, probate, land records, and others. Once destroyed they’re lost forever. Although they have been placed on mircofilm, computers and film burn too. The most heartbreaking side of this is the reason that nearly all of our courthouses are destroyed at the hands of arsonist. Although, not all records were lost. Many Pennsylvania counties have suffered a loss of records due to
courthouse fires, floods, and theft.

  • Erie County Courthouse: A courthouse fire destroyed pre-1823 records.
  • Franklin County Courthouse: burned in 1864 during the McCausland raid .
  • Mercer County Courthouse: burned in 1866, second courthouse burned in 1907

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