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                Baltimore Maryland Stake Family History and Genealogy Workshop Sept. 8, 2007

Tina Abplanalp               717-938-3062
Family History Consultant, York PA Stake, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints or

When doing genealogical research in Pennsylvania, remember that most county borders have changed many
times. You need to search for records in the present county as well as all former counties. Also check records in
surrounding counties and states. Pennsylvania was first settled in the late 1600s so there is a wealth of records.
The Commonwealth did not keep records until 1892. Prior to that, records were kept on the county level. Some
counties have kept these older records, while others have moved them to universities or historical societies.
Some large cities kept records earlier than 1906, including Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Erie, Reading, Scranton,
Lancaster, Harrisburg, York, Williamsport. From 1906 to today, vital records (birth and death) are kept at:
        Pennsylvania Dept. of Vital Records (Fees vary according to the record)
        101 South Mercer Street, 4 Floor, P.O. Box 1528, New Castle, PA 16101
        Phone (724) 656-3100 or records can be requested online at
        (includes links to county vital records offices; birth and death records limited to next of kin)
County Courthouses
● Register of Wills, Clerk of Orphans Court—Maintains records of Probate and Administration proceedings
     and vital records (death and marriage records, old birth and delayed birth records). Orphans Court
     Proceedings (Real Estate Indexes, Partitions of Land, etc.)
     ■ Marriage License Bureau—All marriage records for each county since about 1885. Be sure that the
          marriage was actually performed. Some couples applied for a marriage license but the marriage didn’t
          take place. Marriage applications are a great source since they list the parents of the bride and groom,
          mother’s maiden name, address of parents, whether the bride and groom were married or divorced
          previously, the year of the previous spouse’s death or the divorce.
     ■ Early Birth Records Prior to 1892: Some list mother’s maiden name, father’s occupation, and address
          of parents. You may have to ask for these volumes kept at the county level. Check Register of Wills,
          Orphans Court for county where the event took place.
     ■ Delayed Birth Records: Usually for those born at home who did not have a birth certificate or recorded
          birth (may have been prior to 1892 or 1906). Note that the record date is not the birth date. Check the
          actual record to determine the birth date.
     ■ Death Records prior to 1906: Check Register of Wills, Orphans Court in county where person died.
          Some records may also be kept in the county where the person lived at the time of death.
     ■ Wills: Kept at county level. Check Register of Wills.
● Recorder of Deeds Office—Records dealing with Grantors, Grantees, Mortgagors, and Mortgagees.
     Miscellaneous real Estate transactions including right of ways and other related documents. Usually this office
     is very helpful and includes early township and county maps and early warrant information from each county.
     ■ Land/Deeds: Kept at county level except some land grant records, depreciation land and donation land
          records are kept in the National Archives (check the PA Branch of the National Archives in Philadelphia).
● Prothonotary’s Office—Records of all types of civil suits, including records of Common Pleas court. These
     usually have indexes under both the plaintiff and the defendant by term and year. Records of judgments,
     liens, and divorces.
     ■ Divorce Records: County Court of Common Pleas, granted by PA Supreme Court at least through 1801.
          Check Prothonotary’s Court House or Office of county where event took place.
● Adoption Records: Some records are indicated in the early birth records.
● Miscellaneous Records: Index of Lunatics and Drunkards—These records were often linked to property
     disputes and divorce records that were cited in the listing. (late 1800s and early 1900s)
● Pennsylvania County Courthouse Information

               Baltimore Maryland Stake Family History and Genealogy Workshop Sept. 8, 2007

● 1798 Direct Tax—Special Tax for PA residents in 1798
● Prison Records—Eastern and Western State Prisons (Covers inmates for various years)
● Orphanages and Institutions of Feeble-minded
FEDERAL RECORDS (Many are indexed, microfilmed, and available online)
● 1790 to 1930 Federal Census records include 1850 to 1880 Federal Schedules for Manufacturing and
   Agricultural (names of farmers); Social Statistics (names of idiots, deaf mutes, blind, homeless children,
   prisoners, paupers, and indigents)
● Mortality Schedules—1850, 1860, 1870, 1880 (includes deaths in 12 months prior to the federal census)
● 1862 to 1866 Internal Revenue Tax Assessments: Contains tax records for Pennsylvania residents (Special)
● Federal Naturalizations—3 Districts for Pennsylvania (Eastern, Western, Middle Districts)
● Declaration of Intentions—A person filed an intent to become a Naturalized Citizen and to take an Oath of
   Allegiance to the U.S. These declarations were usually kept at the county level.
Pennsylvania has been involved in most wars from 1744 to current day. See the PA Archives Series (5 series,
volume 1) for 1744–1765 records. Check the PA State Archives and National Archives for records of most wars.
Some records are now online.
A large population of German immigrants settled Pennsylvania. Many denominations have records in central
repositories. LDS Church has microfilmed records of many PA churches. Check Also check
archives for these religions: Lutheran, Presbyterian, Society of Friends (Quakers), Roman Catholic, Episcopal,
Baptist, and Reformed (Evangelical and Reformed Church or United Church of Christ). Many book collections of
early church records exist, even of traveling Methodist ministers.
● They Came in Ships by John P. Colletta, 1993, Ancestry, Salt Lake City, UT. Excellent book on passenger
  lists, ports, dates of immigration and laws, types of records and indexes available. Includes information on
  Philadelphia, Baltimore, New York, and Ellis Island.
● Genealogical Research in Pennsylvania by Kay Haviland Freilich (revised and updated from 2003)
  Currently available as a PDF file, an "e-book" that you can download from the National Genealogical Society
  (NGS) website to save or print. Prices are $8 for NGS members and $10 for non-members. The direct link to
  the download and purchase page is
● Newspaper Records—These are wonderful sources of information but may not be entirely accurate in
   spelling or dates, especially in older newspapers that may have been published only once a week. Look over
   all pages of the newspaper as much as a month before and after a date you’re researching. Remember that
   news of births, deaths, and marriages was often received by mail rather than phone. Pennsylvania State
   Library has records of many state newspapers on microfilm. Some newspapers go back 200 years and some
   are available online. Sometimes births, marriages, and deaths were recorded in local “chit-chat” or gossip
   sections. These sections often list when out-of-town friends or relatives visited. In older newspapers formal
   obituaries were often reserved for people with financial or political status.
● Atlases and Maps—Many counties have published sources for maps that listed where households were
   located. Check card catalogs.
● Military Records—Check state records as well. Individuals may have enlisted at a larger city in the state so
   don’t look strictly in the county where your ancestor lived. Many older records have been published and some
   are online.
● Occupational Records—Info from counties that did business in the state. For instance, The PARailroad has
   many valuable records housed in Harrisburg State Archives and Philadelphia (Temple University)
● County Historical Societies and websites— County Histories and Biographies, Regional Histories and
   Biographies. Most are available at libraries and historical societies, and PA State Library
● Cemetery and Burial Records—Collections from Historical Society of PA, State Library of PA, and
   Genealogical Society of PA, and the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR)

                Baltimore Maryland Stake Family History and Genealogy Workshop Sept. 8, 2007

FamilySearch: PA Genealogy at
Click SEARCH tab. Select Research Helps. Select P and then find Pennsylvania.
Family History Library Catalog
Search for surnames and localities; also use these under keyword and title searches. Most references are
available on microfilm or microfiche and can be ordered to view at your local Family History Center.
All-access free trial:
All types of records including a copy of the Pennsylvania Archive Series, and Revolutionary and Civil War
Pension Records are available. Records from the Family History Library and historical societies are being
digitized and indexed. They will be available at Footnote. Family History Centers will have free access to this site.
Cemetery and Internment Records (Online Searches)
Lists name of person buried; may also list maiden name, birth date, and death date
Select the PA County at
Ship Passenger Lists, Immigrant Ships Transcriber’s Guild
Select Passenger Lists, Special Lists, and Misc. Select a Volume Number or record type (German Departs, New
York Arrivals.) You can search on last names within each volume or record type. It’s time consuming but well
worth it when you view the transcribed ship’s manifest. Includes links to additional resources, some of which may
require payment to view.
Immigrant ships—1800s
Other Immigration Resources
Filby’s Passenger and Immigration Lists Index. Available at most Family History Centers, PA State Library, and
from LDS Family History Library.
Philadelphia Ships Passenger Lists
New Ellis Island Database Search Tools by Megan Smolenyak.>
US Ports of Arrival and Their Available Passenger Lists 1820-1957. A list of every US arrival port, organized by
state, with links to finding aids for the passenger lists for that port. Includes Canadian and Mexican border
crossing records.
Mediterranean Passes, Letters of Marque, and Lists of Ship Registers, 1761-1776: PA Archives

                Baltimore Maryland Stake Family History and Genealogy Workshop Sept. 8, 2007
Philadelphia ship passenger lists...(They appear to be German emigrants).
NARA (National Archives)
Some records are online and are available in HTML and PDF format.
PA Biographies
PA County Incorporations
PA county boundaries changed much over the years. If you have trouble finding a record you need, be sure to
check what the name of the county was in the year you’re researching. You may find the record in the original
county or counties from which the county was formed. At this site, select a county and get a brief history including
counties it was incorporated from, historical cities and dates. Links to township maps.
Clickable map of counties takes you to county resources and websites.
Free sites and links to sites with fees and discussion boards. Many county records are now digital and online with
surname searches. Online records may include county histories, ship records, and arrivals in port of Philadelphia.
Don’t look only in Philadelphia for ship records. For instance, each county may have a list of those who arrived in
Philadelphia or other ports and settled in their county. County websites include the following types of records:
adoption, bible, cemetery, census, church histories, marriage, birth and confirmations, death, military,
Naturalization, land, legal, obituaries, newspaper articles, libraries and county historical societies, maps,
photographs, tax records, wills, county biographies.
PA Genealogy/Personal and Home Histories,22,23,24
PA-German History
Heritage Center Library, 22 Luckenbill Road, Kutztown, PA 19530; Phone: 484-646-4165;
Web site:
PA Location Finder
PA Lookups and Genealogy Volunteers
Lots of links and sites where lookups can be found. Directory of Genealogy Volunteers
PA Maps
PA Photographs
PA Roots

                 Baltimore Maryland Stake Family History and Genealogy Workshop Sept. 8, 2007
PA State Genealogy Site
Links to all types of information related to Pennsylvania.
PA State Archives
Reference services include the following records: military, vital, census, county, naturalization, ships lists, prisons,
land, railroad, and mine (as in coal mine) accidents. Online search tells you the volume of the published PA State
Archives series available at most libraries. Gives lists and descriptions of each type of record. Some military
service cards are available to view online. Click Research/Genealogy at the following site:
PA State Archives (Includes Digital Archives)
ARIAS (Archives Records Information Access System)
Digital Archives:
1.5 million online records include:
● PA National Guard Veteran's Card File, 1867-1921
● Civil War Veterans' Card File
● World War I Service Medal Application Cards
● Spanish American War Veterans' Card File of United States Volunteers
● Mexican Border Campaign Veterans' Card File
● Militia Officers Index Cards, 1775-1800
● Revolutionary War Military Abstract Card File (Index search on last name)
PA State Archives Manuscript Groups, Manuscript and Microfilm Reading Rooms
Personal papers, manuscripts, and non-governmental records currently available for research in the Pennsylvania
State Archives including maps, posters, postcards, and photographs, family collections, oral histories, railroad
records, military records (World War 1 and forward), State Government Records (Record Groups). company and
society records, museum collections, PA Volunteer records, land company records. Microfilm records include:
● Church and Cemetery Records Collection, 1764-1882
● County Records Collection, 1767-1918
● Deeds and Patents Collection, 1681-1911
● Diaries and Journals Collection, 1763-1938
● Military Manuscripts Collection, 1758-1931
● Census records and soundexes
● County records and state land records
● Philadelphia passenger lists index, 1883-1945
● Military records (pre-World War I)
● Some railroad records
● Some State Government records (Record Groups)
● Some manuscript collections (Manuscript Groups)
● Special Collections (microfilm copies of materials held by other institutions)
Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission
You can order or access many resources online. Select Reference and Genealogy as the Category; however,
some publications can be found in other categories.
Bureau of Archives and History, Pennsylvania State Archives
● Supreme Court Holdings
● Declaration of Intention Dockets, 1819-1870, 1873-1875, 1881-1906. (Index for 1832-1901)
● Divorce Papers, 1786-1815, and General Motion and Divorce Docket, 1750-1837 (Divorces 1800-1805 only)

                Baltimore Maryland Stake Family History and Genealogy Workshop Sept. 8, 2007
●   Index to Declaration of Intention Dockets, 1832-1901; Index to Naturalization Papers, 1794-1824, 1842-1868;
    and Naturalization Papers, 1794-1819, 1821-1868
●   Donation Land Registrations
●   Revolutionary War Records
BOOKS: Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission Bookstore (Online Catalog)
Select Reference and Genealogy as the Category; however, some publications can be found in other categories.
Many of these publications and books are available at libraries and PA bookstores. Order a catalog or view it
online. Some libraries have free copies of the catalog. The following are good references:
● Pennsylvania Land Records: A History and Guide for Research by Donna Bingham Munger, 1991. Guide
     to land records back to 1680s.
● Guide to Genealogical Sources at the Pennsylvania State Archives by Robert M. Dructor, 1997. Guide to
     genealogical public manuscripts and microfilm holdings.
● Genealogical Map of the Counties. Map that locates land accessions by Pennsylvania treaty and the
     chronological development of the sixty-seven counties.
● Lost in Pennsylvania? Try the Published Pennsylvania Archives. Many of the volumes have genealogical
     information including early marriages, military records, even maps of the early manors. Online tax lists of
     these manors are also available for Chester and Philadelphia Counties.
● Early History of Western Pennsylvania, of the West, and Western Expeditions (includes Ohio Valley,
     Ohio Land Companies)
PA State Archives Series (Published)
State and county histories, land warranty maps, church and cemetery records, collections, newspapers, rare
books, regimental histories, mortality schedules. Many records are available on microfilm and through interlibrary
loan program. You need your library barcode or ID to search some databases online.
● Published books and indexes of ship passenger lists and microfilm copies of manifests (includes ports in
    other states such as New York and Baltimore)
● Published biographies (large section of biographies from families inside and outside of PA.)
● Published genealogical books, PA county histories, biographies, and courthouse indexes (births, deaths,
    marriages, wills) from most PA counties and well as many books from other states
● Published State Archives (Check the list that explains which volumes contain genealogical records)
● PA Census and Federal Census Records (microfilm)
● File cabinets with miscellaneous information about locations, people, and clipped newspaper articles
● Index to letters, diaries, oral histories, personal narratives, and historical maps of manors and early counties
PA Archives Series Online (Free)
Free access to the Pennsylvania Archives series online. About 95% complete.
PA State Library in Harrisburg
Hours 9 to 4:30 Mon. thru Sat.; Tues. 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Check holiday schedule online.|1221|1228|
● Newspaper Reading Room (microfilm copies of many cities throughout PA and U.S.)
● Genealogy Room (genealogy and local history collections; books and microfilm rolls of surnames; search
     online to find the roll with the last name)|1221|1228|&librar