Pennsylvania Archives and Libraries
|Pennsylvania Wiki Topics|
|Local Research Resources|
These repositories preserve sources, maintain indexes, and provide services to help genealogists document their ancestors who lived in Pennsylvania.
Wiki Articles on Major Repositories for Pennsylvania
American Swedish Historical Museum · Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh · Citizens Library · Erie County Library · Evangelical and Reformed Historical Society · Franklin and Marshall College Library · Free Library of Philadelphia · Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania · German Society of Pennsylvania · Handley Regional Library · Haverford College Library · Historical Society of Pennsylvania · Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania · Jewish Genealogical Society of Greater Philadelphia · Lancaster Mennonite Historical Society · Library Company of Philadelphia · Library of Congress · Lutheran Archives Center at Philadelphia · Luzerne County Historical Society Bishop Library · National Archives at Philadelphia · New York Public Library · Pennsylvania Department of Health · Pennsylvania State Archives · Philadelphia City Archives · Presbyterian Historical Society · State Library of Pennsylvania · Swarthmore College Friends Historical Library · Temple University Urban Archives · University of Pennsylvania Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Center
Online Records of Pennsylvania
Links to online databases and indexes that may include vital records, biographies, cemeteries, censuses, histories, immigration records, land records, maps, military records, naturalizations, newspapers, obituaries, or probate records.
American Swedish Historical Museum
- New Sweden colony, and Swedish heritage in the Delaware Valley (northern Delaware, southern New Jersey, and southeast Pennsylvania).
Evangelical and Reformed Historical Society
Evangelical and Reformed Historical Society (ERHS)
Philip Schaff Library 2nd floor
Lancaster Theological Seminary
555 West James Street
Lancaster, PA, USA 17603
- Reformed Church parish registers, leaders' biographies, and photos. By appointment only.
450 College Avenue
Lancaster, PA 17603
- "Hessian" (German) soldiers in the American Revolution, history, government, Pennsylvania-German culture, U.S. Civil War.
Quaker and Special Collections
James P. Magill Library
370 Lancaster Avenue
Haverford, PA 19041-1392
- Quaker Collection of diaries, photos, family papers, meeting and organizational records; 35,000 books, 2,400 linear feet of manuscripts.
Lutheran Archives Center at Philadelphia
Brossman Learning Center (in the undercroft)
7301 Germantown Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19119-1794
- ELCA archives for Eastern Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Upstate New York (excluding New York City) and New England. Includes clergy and synod papers, and some parish registers (baptisms, marriages, funerals, confirmations) (many written in German).
Presbyterian Historical Society
- National archives of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Includes biographical files, foreign missionary index, congregation vertical file index, congregation histories, and records of American Presbyterian congregations.
500 College Avenue
Swarthmore, PA 19081
- Documents the history of the Society of Friends (Quakers) from the 17th century to the present; 45,000 books, 60,000 photos, and 9,000 volumes of original Quaker meeting records, plus local history of the Mid-Atlantic states, and social reform movements.
- The GSP now maintains a mostly digital collection—the old tangible GSP collection was given to the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. GSP online collections (some available to GSP members only) include indexes and transcripts to baptisms, burials, parish registers, research aids, court records, surname files, funeral home records, marriages, miscellaneous collections (to wit: departure lists, conscientious objectors, police blotters, and bath association), newspapers, GSP newsletters, and GSP magazines.
German Society of Pennsylvania
- 60,000 volumes, mostly in German. This is the largest private collection of German books in the United States outside of universities. Their purpose is to document German-American history, culture, and organizations, including biographies and publications.
Philadelphia, PA 19107-5699
- Has early Quakers, Germans, Scots-Irish, and other settlers in William Penn's colonies of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware. Records which have been published are normally well-indexed. This society also has 17th-, 18th-, and 19th-century manuscripts (letters, diaries, account books, deeds, minutes, and scrapbooks), passenger arrival lists and indexes,  local and regional history, ethnic and immigrant studies materials, 600,000 books, 20 million manuscripts, over 300,000 graphics items, and 300 years of newspapers.
Philadelphia Public Office (other public offices in Erie, Harrisburg, New Castle, Pittsburgh, and Scranton)
110 North 8th Street, Suite 108
Philadelphia, PA, 19107-2412
Internet: Birth and Death Certificates
- Birth and death records 1906-present. Order in-person, order online via VitalChek, or order births by mail, or order deaths by mail.
Harrisburg, PA 17120
Internet: Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission
- This huge collection has indexes and original sources associated with the Pennsylvania Archives series, such as vital, military, prison, naturalization, land records, census, ships lists, railroads, mines, and 1.5 million online records  including online genealogy guides.
(also known as the Bureau of State Library)
607 South Drive. Forum Building
Harrisburg, PA 17120-0600
E-mail: Reference Request form
Internet: Pennsylvania Genealogy and History
- Indexes, genealogy surname files, state and county histories, atlases, land records maps, ship lists, church and cemetery records, federal censuses, regimental histories, ethnic and religious group records, newspapers, heraldry, adoption, obituaries, naturalizations, military, railroads and mines, historical Pennsylvania city directories. 
Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh
4400 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15213-4080
- Large book collection, newspapers, manuscripts, and county histories most of which are indexed. Also family histories, family folders, local histories and genealogies.
- The Washington County, Pennsylvania area was an important staging area or gateway for travel into the Ohio River Valley and the West. As such, many records of travelers can be found here, and this library has the best biographical collection of these records.
Erie County Public Library
- This library has the best biographical section for migrants who traveled here via the Erie Canal before moving on to Ohio and farther west. They also have an online obituary index for Erie County, Pennsylvania from 1822 to present, family histories, county histories, computer genealogy databases, and on microfilm Erie newspapers and censuses.
Free Library of Philadelphia
1901 Vine Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103-1157
(between 19th and 20th Streets on the Parkway)
E-mail: E-mail a Librarian form
- Very large book collection, periodicals and indexes, genealogies, city directories, maps, family folders, local newspapers since 1719, naturalizations, vertical files, manuscripts, photos, government publications, and histories for all of Pennsylvania.</ref> 
Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania
1212 Smallman Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15222
- This large collection is for western Pennsylvania and eastern Ohio, including the Western Pennsylvania Genealogical Society records. 700,000 photos, 40,000 books, 3,500 individual archival collections of families, organizations, businesses, and industries, 600 periodicals, and 500 maps and atlases.
Jewish Gen Soc of Greater Philadelphia
Jewish Genealogical Society of Greater Philadelphia
Tuttleman Library-Gratz College
7605 Old York Road
Elkins Park, PA 19027
- Hebraica and Judaica, Jewish genealogy research manuals, society newsletters, regional cemeteries, and resource guide for south Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware.
Lancaster Mennonite Historical Society
2215 Millstream Road
Lancaster, PA 17602-1499
- Center for studying the Pennsylvania Mennonites and Amish heritage. They collect historical and genealogical materials of southeast Pennsylvania, focusing most on Lancaster County, including an 800,000 person card index, 3000 genealogies, secular local histories, congregational histories, biographies, directories, passenger lists, atlases and maps, cemetery transcripts, censuses, databases, deeds, obituaries, orphans court records, periodicals, surname files, tax records, and wills.
Library Company of Philadelphia
- This library has a very large German-American collection, and is good for documenting Civil War ancestors from Pennsylvania. Half a million rare books, manuscripts, and graphics documenting American history and culture to 1900 including African Americana, American Judaica, womens' history, and photography in Philadelphia. They also have enough early Philadelphia records to make this virtually a second city archives.</ref> 
Luzerne County Hist Soc Bishop Library
Luzerne County Histical Society Bishop Library
49 South Franklin Street
Wilkes-Barre, PA 18701
- This facility is important for research about New England migrants into Pennsylvania and places farther south. They have 13,000 family folders, transcribed wills 1787-1896, personal papers and correspondence, 10,000 photos, county and local histories, church histories, family histories, biographies, Native Americans and ethnic groups, city directories, maps, births 1893-1905, marriages 1885-1950, deaths 1886-1962, newspapers and obituaries, land records 1787-1907, and index to Orphans' Court wills, land sales, and guardians 1787-1866.
Philadelphia City Archives
3101 Market Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
- Births 1860-1915 (a few starting 1829), marriages 1860-1915, divorces 1851-1875, deaths 1803-1915, naturalizations 1793-1930, city directories 1785-1935, county deeds 1683-1952, county mortgages 1736-1963, constables 1854-1925, and some court records. They have indexes to early Philadelphia materials, such as tax records, prisoners, commissioners reports, mayors warrants and appointments, as well as cemeteries, board of health records, and streets.</ref> 
Temple University Urban Archives
Samuel Paley Library
Berks and 13th Streets
Philadelphia, PA 19122
E-mail: Ask a Librarian form
- Church records, fraternal groups, ethnic groups, unions, guilds, and people-oriented collection of organizations, clubs, businesses, and societies related to the growth of the Philadelphia area since the 1800s.</ref> 4 million images, 7 million news clippings, city directories, Philadelphia atlases, and Sanborn fire insurance maps.
Univ of PA Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Center
University of Pennsylvania Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Center
3420 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6206
E-mail: Ask a Reference Question form
- Very large manuscript collection, newspapers, county records and histories, biographical sources, ethnic resources, church records, and government records.</ref> Subject specialties include Africana, Asian Americans, Chinese, French, Germans, history, immigration, Italians, Japanese, Judaic studies, Koreans, Latin Americans, Philadelphia studies, religions, Russians and East Europeans, South Asians, and Spaniards.
For early colonial immigrants in nine southeast Pennsylvania counties see: 
- Adams County Historical Society Library
- Bucks County Historical Society Library
- Historical Society of Berks County Library
- Chester County Historical Society Library
- Delaware County Historical Society Library
- Lancaster County Historical Society Library
- Lebanon County Historical Society Research Archives
- Historical Society of Montgomery County Library
- Historical Society of York County Library and Archives
Repositories Outside of Pennsylvania
100 W. Piccadilly Street
PO Box 58
Winchester, Virginia 22604
- Very large collection about Germans and Scots-Irish who traveled the Great Valley Road from Pennsylvania to Virginia, including manuscripts, newspapers, biographies, and histories, and people of the Lower Shenandoah Valley since 1732, emphasizing Winchester and Frederick County in 4000 books, county court abstracts, county histories, genealogies, regimental histories, battles, newspapers since 1787, censuses, 600 linear feet of manuscripts, maps, photos, and oral history tapes.
Thomas Jefferson Building, LJ G4
Washington, D.C. 20540-4660
Telephone: Reading Room: 202-707-5537
E-mail: Ask a Librarian
- Use this library for its outstanding genealogical guides and indexes. They are part of the world's largest library including 50,000 genealogies, 100,000 local histories, and collections of manuscripts, microfilms, maps, newspapers, photographs, and published material, strong in North American, British Isles, and German sources. The "Local History and Genealogy Reading Room" has moved to the main reading room, but services are unchanged.  Includes one of the best Pennsylvania collections in the world.
- This is one of the largest research libraries in the world including excellent genealogical resources for Pennsylvania. The library has city and telephone directories, vital records indexes, local histories, genealogies, federal and state censuses, passenger lists, genealogical collections (including DAR transcripts), and church records. For maps, write to the Map Division at the same address.
Family History Centers
Family History Centers. Some of the collections described above are at least partially available on microfilms at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, and through thousands of its branch Family History Centers. For further information see Introduction to LDS Family History Centers. To locate a center near you, see Find a Family History Center.
Museums sometime preserve genealogical sources. A List of museums in Pennsylvania is available on Wikipedia.
- County Records Survey, 1985-1986 [of Pennsylvania]. ([Harrisburg, Pennsylvania]: Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission. Division of Archives and Manuscripts, 1986). At various libraries (WorldCat). On 7 FHL fiche 6333952. Philadelphia County is not included, but Pittsburgh city is.
- Sylvester K. Stevens and Donald H. Kent, eds., County Government and Archives in Pennsylvania (Harrisburg, Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, 1947) At various libraries (WorldCat). FHL book 974.8 N2s; FHL film 1320887 item 10. This guide describes the records kept by each county, the information they contain, when most began, and important history of their development.
- Irwin Richman, Historical Manuscript Depositories in Pennsylvania (Harrisburg, Pennsylvania : Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, 1965). At various libraries (WorldCat). FHL book 974.8 H23r It provides a detailed description of the manuscripts in most libraries and archives in Pennsylvania in 1965, but dated.
- Irene E. Fink, Directory of Libraries and Information Sources in the Philadelphia Area (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania : Special Libraries Association. Philadelphia Chapter, 1973). At various libraries (WorldCat). FHL book 974.811 J54s; film 1036557 item 9. For eastern Pennsylvania libraries only.
- William Dollarhide and Ronald A. Bremer. America's Best Genealogy Resource Centers (Bountiful, Utah: Heritage Quest, 1998), 126-27. At various libraries (WorldCat). FHL Ref Book 973 J54d.
- About the Museum in American Swedish Historical Museum (accessed 24 December 2013).
- Resources in Evangelical and Reformed Historical Society (accessed 24 December 2013).
- Genealogy Resources/Church Records in Franklin and Marshall College Library (accessed 24 December 2013).
- About the Quaker Collection in Haverford Libraries (accessed 24 December 2013).
- The Lutheran Archives Center at Philadelphia in The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia (accessed 24 December 2013).
- Collections in Presbyterian Historical Society (accessed 24 December 2013).
- Genealogy and Family History Research at the Presbyterian Historical Society in Presbyterian Historical Society (accessed 26 December 2013).
- Friends Historical Library in Swarthmore College (accessed 24 December 2013).
- Online Collections in Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania (accessed 27 December 2013).
- German Society of Pennsylvania in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia (accessed 26 December 2013).
- Dollarhide and Bremer, 95.
- About Our Collections in Historical Society of Pennsylvania (accessed 27 December 2013).
- Birth and Death Certificates in Pennsylvania Department of Health (accessed 27 December 2013).
- Dollarhide and Bremer, 97.
- Research Topics at the Pennsylvania State Archives in Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (accessed 23 December 2013).
- Genealogy and Local History in Pennsylvania Department of Education (accessed 27 December 2013).
- Genealogy in Erie County Public Library (accessed 27 December 2013).
- Genealogy 101 in Free Library of Philadelphia (accessed 28 December 2013).
- Library and Archives in Senator John Heinz History Center (accessed 26 December 2013).
- The JGSGP Library in Jewish Genealogical Society of Greater Philadelphia (accessed 24 December 2013).
- Genealogy Resources in Lancaster Mennonite Historical Society (accessed 26 December 2013).
- Collections Overview in Library Company of Philadelphia (accessed 28 December 2013).
- Resources in Luzerne County Historical Society (accessed 28 December 2013).
- Genealogical Resources at the Philadelphia City Archives in City of Philadelphia Department of Records (accessed 26 December 2013).
- Urban Archives in Temple University Libraries (accessed 28 December 2013).
- Subjects and Collections in Penn Libraries (accessed 28 December 2013).
- Family and Local History in Handley Regional Library (accessed 28 December 2013).
- "Contact Information" in The Library of Congress [Internet site] at http://www.loc.gov/rr/genealogy/address.html (accessed 12 May 2010).
- The Collections in Local History and Genealogy Reference Services in Library of Congress (accessed 2 February 2014).
- Dollarhide and Bremer, 29.
- Dollarhide and Bremer, 81.