General Guides to Pennsylvania Research
Books you might purchase or use in a library include
- NGS. Research in Pennsylvania -- note that while this shows an impressive table of contents, covering many subjects, it is only 46 pages, so it can not be very comprehensive. Still, we should be able to rely on the National Genealogy Society for a high quality product, so it might be worth the risk. If you join the NGS, you can get these state guides more cheaply.
- Clint. Pennsylvania Area Key (1976) (There are also several county area keys, which can be quite useful, despite being dated. These are out of print and you will have to do some searching to find them. )
- Schweitzer. Pennsylvania Genealogical Research
- Woodroofe. A Genealogists Guide to Pennsylvania Records (1995, but originally published in the Pennsylvania Genealogical Magazine; still helpful, but some specifics may be out of date)
Pennsylvania Genealogical Magazine -- with membership in the Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania
-- back run on CD
Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography
- Audio tapes from lectures given at genealogy conferences and seminars with the word Pennsylvania in the title
Each of the three reference books listed below has a small section covering each state that includes maps, historical information, vital records coverage and a bibliography of resources for that state. (note: some libraries may have earlier editions; those are usable)
- Handybook for Genealogists ( 11th edition) (find in a library)
- Ancestry's Red book, 3rd ed, revised. (find in a library) (see above for online copy)
- The Family Tree Resource Book for Genealogical Research (find in a library)
Atlases, Maps & Gazetteers
For more information on finding and using maps, see Your Guide to Atlases, Maps and Gazetteers.
Statewide Pennsylvania Gene alogy Web sites
Next, see what is available for your counties of interest at at one of these statewide sites. For each, use the county selection list to find out what is available for the various counties. Content will vary, but in usually you will find the GenWeb site to be the most robust. All are volunteer driven sites; all data free, but as time goes by, the upkeep of many of these sites seems to be falling by the wayside.
Societies, Libraries and Archives
For more information on using libraries and archives, see my genealogy guides to Libraries and Archives
Finding and Using Records:
Here is a nice overview of Pennsylvania Records on the web site of the Pittsburgh Carnegie Library.
FIRST -- Use the catalog at the Family History Library to find out what has been filmed for Pennsylvania.
At the familysearch.org catalog make sure the pull down is for place name.
Type in Pennsylvania to search for state-wide information. As you type it in, notice that the drop down will display each county. If you search Pennsylvania, you will get results that include Pennsylvania as sub topics as well as main topics.
To search a county, go back to the search page. You can search it by using the alphabetical drop down described above. When you get to the county page, the results will be county specific. Check those to see what is available at the county level.
And before you quit... click in the box to the left. You will see the townships, villages and city in that county. See what is filmed for those too.
Here is some specific information and links by record type or special groups:
African American, bible, cemetery, census, church, city directories, county histories, court & legal, military, land and property, nationalities. naturalizations, newspapers, probate, vital.
Bible Records: For general information, see Your Guide to Finding and Using Family Bible Records
- The Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania Manuscript Archives Surname Index includes every name in the family Bibles held by the GSP.
- These two Pennsylvania publications include some Bible records; both are indexed at the article level in PERSI (PERSI does not index names within articles)
- Pennsylvania Magazine of Biography and History
- Publications of the Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania
Cemetery: For general information, see guide to cemetery records, this web site
Census: For general information, see guide to census records, this web site
Church: For general information, see guide to church records, this web site
City and County Directories: For general information, see guide to City and County directories, this web site
- FamilySearch Wiki: Pennsylvania Directories
- U.S. City Directories: Pennsylvania ; this serves as an unofficial union list of City Directories and a place where you can order lookups in the city directory by clicking the "order copy" icon on the right. The price of the lookups (plus shipping and handling) seem to me to be on the high end of a reasonable charge, but if all other efforts fail, it is good to know this service is available.
- Distant Cousin: Pennsylvania City Directories (links to online city directories)
- Pennsylvania Online City Directories
- Philadelphia City Directories at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania (a listing of what is available there)
- Historical Pennsylvania Directories at the State Library of Pennsylvania (a listing; this will probably give you a fairly comprehensive listing of what historical directories are available for Pennsylvania cities, counties and regions)
County and Local Histories: For general information, see Guide to County Histories, this web site
Court & Legal; For general information, see guide to law libraries, this web site
Land & Property: For general information, see Guide to Land records, this web site
Military; For general information, see Guide to Military records, this web site
Nationalities and Ethnic Groups in Pennsylvania:
Naturalizations; For general information, see Guide to Naturalizations, this web site
Newspapers: For general information, see Guide to Newspapers, this web site
Probate: For general information, see Guide to Probate Records, this web site
Tax Records: For general information see Guide to Tax Lists, this web site
- Family Search Wiki: Pennsylvania Tax Records
- Ancestry Red book overview: Pennsylvania Tax Records
- Many early township tax records were published in the multi-volume Pennsylvania Archives, which is available online ( free and searchable) at Footnote.com.
Vital: For general information, see Guide to Vital Records, this web site
Queries & Help