Research in Pennsylvania Archives, Libraries, Publications, Historical & Genealogical Societies

It is prudent to familiarize personally with virtually any repository in Pennsylvania that you simply might travel to by getting in contact with to the archive or library ahead of time.

A good number of, if not all, Pennsylvania repositories contain published resources that introduce its collections together with research policy.

Pennsylvania archives and historical organizations also provide On-line websites which provide comparable content. Many even possess down loadable data for some or parts from the collections.

It is mandated that each county support a historical society. In 1952 an archives was started in Philadelphia, the oldest city archives in the country. John Daly compiled a Descriptive Inventory to its holdings in 1970. The first county archives was established in Chester County in 1982 and is considered the model for the Commonwealth

Pennsylvania Archives

Pennsylvania Museums

Pennsylvania Libraries

  • State Library of Pennsylvania, Commonwealth Avenue and Walnut Street, P.O. Box 1601, Harrisburg, PA 17105-1601; Genealogies, local histories, maps, censuses, newspapers, periodicals, and city directories are at the state library.
  • Lutherans Abdel Ross Wentz Library Gettysburg, PA 17325

Pennsylvania Periodicals

Genealogical periodicals make available quite a few sources of information, they are often missed by family history and genealogy researchers and genealogist in exploring for family history. A good number of regional and county genealogical and/or historical societies publish periodicals which include records having to do with the region or vicinity they support. Normally these publications carry articles involving records that are not offered elsewhere.

  • The Pennsylvania Genealogical Magazine -
    published by the Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania since 1948, tends to
    focus on the Philadelphia area with some coverage of New Jersey, Delaware, and Maryland. The first issue was numbered volume 16, as it succeeded the society’s Publications of the Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania, started in 1895.
  • The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography -
    is the publication of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. It contains excellent articles on Pennsylvania subjects although mostly with a historical focus, and since 1936 without "genealogical" material.
  • The Western Pennsylvania Genealogical Society -
    has published the Western Pennsylvania Genealogical Society Quarterly since 1974. It is one of the more important regional journals since it covers a large area with many fine articles and abstracts of source records.
  • Your Family Tree (1948-83) -
    Another journal that concerns the central and western parts of the commonwealth. Besides queries, it featured abstracts of wills, tax lists, grave marker inscriptions, and newspaper items.
  • Pennsylvania German Folklore Society -
    was issued in twenty-eight volumes from 1963-66, when it merged with the Pennsylvania German Society Proceedings, which since 1891 had produced sixty-three volumes. Many emigration and church records have been published in these periodicals.
  • Pennsylvania History
    published by the Pennsylvania Historical Association since 1934. A cumulative index for volumes 1-28 is available at the Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania. ;
    National Genealogical Society Quarterly
  • The collection at the Friends Historical Library Swarthmore College Swarthmore, PA 19081 ; The library has original and microfilmed Quaker records, mostly for Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, and some for Virginia, including those for fourteen Pennsylvania meetings copied by Hinshaw but never published. While the basic meeting records are located at Swarthmore, other material can be found at Haverford College Library Quaker Collection Haverford, PA 19041-1392

Pennsylvania Historical & Genealogical Societies

For almost every state there is a state genealogical society, a state genealogical council, or both. Together with their own work, Pennsylvania groups quite often help synchronize the efforts of local societies inside the Pennsylvania. Their particular publications, newsletters and quarterlies, supplement those produced by way of the local societies.

Regional and State

County, Township and City

Religious Societies and Groups

  • Evangelical and Reformed Historical Society of the United Church of Christ 555 West James Street Lancaster, PA 17603. loans microfilm of church records, covering German churches in Adams, Berks, Bucks, Chester, Columbia, Dauphin, Lancaster, Lebanon, Lehigh, Monroe, Montgomery, Northampton, Northumberland, Perry, Philadelphia, Schuylkill, and York counties, as well as a few for Maryland and Virginia. Many German church records, particularly for the German Reformed and Evangelical church, have been published in books and periodicals.
  • Presbyterian Historical Society 425 Lombard Street Philadelphia, PA 19147. has records of over 20,000 churches and has published the Journal of Presbyterian History since 1901.
  • Historical Society of Pennsylvania Philadelphia Jewish Archives Center at the Balch Institute 18 South 7th Street Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19106. has a microfilm collection of Jewish synagogue and cemetery records; other related material. Other important archives are kept by: The Moravians 66 West Church Street Bethlehem, PA 18018

Ethnic Societies and Groups

Research in Pennsylvania Newspapers & Publications

An updated version of Pennsylvania Newspapers and Selected Out-of-State Newspapers was published by the Pennsylvania State Library in 1984. The publication is organized according to county, city or town, and title. A newspaper project was also sponsored by Pennsylvania. It included identifying, cataloging, microfilming, and otherwise preserving old newspapers from around the state. The largest collection is available at the Pennsylvania State Library and microfilmed copies are available through inter-library loan programs. The library’s website lists its available records. The Western Pennsylvania Genealogical Society, the Free Library of Philadelphia, and the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh also have large newspaper collections available. There have also been several published newspaper abstracts.

Books

Newspapers – Pennsylvania newspapers can supply all sorts of clues about historical events, local history, court and legal notices, obituaries, and much more.