Historical Society of Pennsylvania

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United States Gotoarrow.png Pennsylvania Gotoarrow.png Archives and LibrariesGotoarrow.pngHistorical Society of Pennsylvania

Historical Society of Pennsylvania
Historical Society of Pennsylvania.jpg

Contact Information

E-mail:[1] ReadyReference@hsp.org

Address:[2] 1300 Locust Street
                    Philadelphia, PA 1907-5699

Telephone:[2]  215-732-6200
Fax:[2]  215-732-2680

Hours and holidays:[3]
       Tuesdays and Thursdays 12:30 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.
       Wednesday 12:30p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
       Friday 10:00 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
       Closed Sundays, Mondays, Saturdays and holidays

Directions and map:[2]

Internet sites and databases:

  • Historical Society of Pennsylvania collections, history online, publications, educations, become a member, donate, plan a visit, need research?, for scholars, for genealogists and community historians, for teachers, for historical and heritage organizations, events, and news.
  • Discover Online Catalog to HSP's print holdings of books, pamphlets, serials and newspapers, manuscript collections, maps, and microfilms.
  • Digital Library 60,000 images of photos, artwork, maps, manuscripts, and archived video records.
  • Finding Aids provide background information, descriptions, and inventories for HSP collections.

Collection Description

Includes early Quakers, Germans, Scots-Irish and 60 other ethnic or religious groups, and genealogical material for Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, and states east of the Mississippi River, Balch Institute passenger arrival lists, a huge manuscript collection (letters, diaries, account books, deeds, minutes, and scrapbooks) including many indexes, and Philadelphia neighborhood records.[4] The HSP is one of the most complete and professional genealogy centers in the nation—and the largest in the Mid-Atlantic region. Its has 600,000 books, 20 million manuscripts, 300,000 images, and nearly 300 years of newspapers. It also covers pre-migration from Europe, the genealogical “stepping stones” across the Caribbean, and out-migration to Canada.[5]


  • There is a Library Admission for non-members.
  • All first-time visitors to the library must complete a Research Registration Form.[3]
  • Photocopy services are available to both on- and off-site researchers for $0.50 a page.[3]
  • The use of film or digital still-image cameras is permitted in the library at no additional cost.[3]
  • Entry to the library, photocopy service, and paging all end 45 minutes prior to closing time.[3]
  • Notice of weather or emergency closings will be posted on the Historical Society's website and on the Society's weather phone line at 215-732-6200 ext. 505.[3]


  • Balch Manuscript Guide of 60 ethnic groups: descriptions of their many collections and newspapers.
  • Finding Aids about 600 HSP collections with a background, description, or inventory of each.
  • Subject Guides to 20th Century Collections, African Americans, Chinese Genealogy, Civil War Manuscripts and Newspapers, Civil War Resources, Ethnic History Resources, Family History and Genealogy, Federal Census Records, Jewish Resources, Land Records, Military Records, Pennsylvania and Philadelphia Resources, Philadelphia City Directories, Vital Records, and Women's History.

Alternate Repositories

If you cannot visit or find a source at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, a similar source may be available at one of the following.

Overlapping Collections

  • National Archives I, Washington DC, census, pre-WWI military service & pensions, passenger lists, naturalizations, passports, federal bounty land, homesteads, bankruptcy, ethnic sources, prisons, and federal employees.[6]
  • National Archives II, College Park, MD, Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, Justice, Labor, State, Transportation, and Treasury all after 1900.[7]
  • National Archives at Philadelphia records of federal agencies and courts for Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia, censuses, ships lists, naturalizations, and military records.[8]
  • Pennsylvania State Archives, Harrisburg, indexes and original sources of Pennsylvania Archives, such as vital records, military records, naturalization, prisoners, land records, censuses, and ships lists 1728-1808. Also, unfilmed transcripts from many historical societies and courthouses.[9] [10]
  • State Library of Pennsylvania, Harrisburg, indexes and surname files, histories, atlases, land records, maps, ship lists, church and cemetery records, censuses, regimental histories, ethnic and religious groups, newspapers, obituaries, naturalizations, and city directories.[11]

Similar Collections

  • National Personnel Records Center, St. Louis, MO., has millions of military personnel, health, medical records of discharged and deceased veterans of all services starting with World War I, and federal employee records.[12]
  • Library of Congress, Washington, DC, Local History and Genealogy Reading Room is part of the world's largest library including 50,000 genealogies, 100,000 local histories, manuscripts, microfilms, maps, newspapers, photographs, books, strong in North American, British Isles, and German sources.[13]
  • Family History Library, Salt Lake City, 450 computers, 3,400 databases, 3.1 million microforms, 4,500 periodicals, 310,000 books of worldwide family and local histories, civil, church, immigration, ethnic, military, Mormon records.[14]

Neighboring Collections


  1. How to Find the Materials You Need in HSP's Collections in Historical Society of Pennsylvania (accessed 31 December 2013).
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Address and Directions at Historical Society of Pennsylvania] (accessed 25 September 2012).
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 Library Hours and Admission at Historical Society of Pennsylvania] (accessed 25 September 2012).
  4. William Dollarhide and Ronald A. Bremer. America's Best Genealogy Resource Centers (Bountiful, Utah: Heritage Quest, 1998), 95. At various libraries (WorldCat). FHL Ref Book 973 J54d.
  5. Genealogists and Community Historians and About Our Collections in Historical Society of Pennsylvania (accessed 31 December 2013).
  6. Information for Researchers at the National Archives Building in Washington, DC in National Archives (accessed 31 December 2013).
  7. Information for Researchers at the National Archives at College Park, MD in National Archives (accessed 31 December 2013).
  8. Family History at the National Archives in Philadelphia in National Archives (accessed 20 December 2013).
  9. Dollarhide and Bremer, 97.
  10. Research Topics at the Pennsylvania State Archives in Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (accessed 23 December 2013).
  11. Genealogy and Local History in Pennsylvania Department of Education (accessed 27 December 2013).
  12. National Personnel Records Center in National Archives (accessed 31 December 2013).
  13. The Collections in Local History and Genealogy Reading Room in Library of Congress (accessed 31 December 2013).
  14. Based on updated statistics from Family History Library in FamilySearch Research Wiki (accessed 31 December 2013).
  15. Birth and Death Certificates in Pennsylvania Department of Health (accessed 27 December 2013).
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 16.3 16.4 16.5 Dollarhide and Bremer, 95
  17. Genealogy 101 in Free Library of Philadelphia (accessed 27 December 2013).
  18. Clerk of the Orphans' Court in City of Philadelphia (accessed 27 December 2013).
  19. Search Court Records in The Philadelphia Courts (accessed 23 December 2013).
  20. Marriage Records in Register of Wills (accessed 23 December 2013).
  21. Archives in City of Philadelphia Department of Records (accessed 23 December 2013).
  22. Office of the Clerk of Court in United States District Court Eaastern District of Pennsylvania (accessed 24 December 2013).
  23. About the Museum in American Swedish Historical Museum (accessed 24 December 2013).
  24. CHHS Collections in Chestnut Hill Historical Society (accessed 24 December 2013).
  25. Genealogical Resources at the Joseph P. Horner Memorial Library in The German Society of Pennsylvania (accessed 24 December 2013).
  26. Library and Archives in Germantown Historical Society (accessed 24 December 2013).
  27. The Lutheran Archives Center at Philadelphia in The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia (accessed 24 December 2013).
  28. Genealogy and Family History Research at the Presbyterian Historical Society in Presbyterian Historical Society (accessed 24 December 2013).
  29. Resources in Evangelical and Reformed Historical Society (accessed 24 December 2013).
  30. Genealogy Resources/Church Records in Franklin and Marshall College Library (accessed 24 December 2013).
  31. About the Quaker Collection in Haverford Libraries (accessed 24 December 2013).
  32. The JGSGP Library in Jewish Genealogical Society of Greater Philadelphia (accessed 24 December 2013).
  33. Genealogy Resources in Lancaster Mennonite Historical Society (accessed 24 December 2013).
  34. Friends Historical Library in Swarthmore College (accessed 24 December 2013).
  35. Dollarhide and Bremer, 27.
  36. Dollarhide and Bremer, 113.
  37. Records in Ontario Ministry of Government Services (accessed 29 December 2013).