NGS Research in the States Series: Pennsylvania


“Countless American families are rooted in the Keystone State. Because of its central location, its abundant resources, and its social tolerance, it has lured immigrants in droves since 1643. Its major port, Philadelphia, has funneled settlers into every state of the Union. Their descendants who return to search for forebears or comb distant repositories for records that have been disseminated—can find a trove of historic resources.”


This Issue: NGS Research in the States Series: Pennsylvania; written by Kay Haviland Freilich.


Pennsylvania is a keystone state of America, playing a major role in its history and playing host to a immigrant of diverse nationalities. The state also “hosted the men who declared our nation’s independence from England and those who later forged the Constitution that still governs us. Originally embracing the present bounds of Delware, Pennsylvania was home to the nation’s first capital and is still the home of such American icons as the Liberty Bell, Valley Forge, and Gettysburg.”

Each guide in this series offers a bit of history behind each type of record or resource as well as names and descriptions for specific archives. For example, in this volume under the heading Ethnic Records you will find the following:

“As a major port city, Pennsylvania has attracted many ethnicity. The city’s Balch Institute for Ethnic Studies founded in 1971, amassed a collection of millions of manuscripts and printed items that treat virtually every immigrant group to America’s sores and are now available at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania…”

About the Series

Beginning in 1987, the National Genealogical Society began publishing a series of state guides in the organization’s magazine, the Quarterly. These guides were later re-issued as special publications designed to support genealogical research in each state. Eventually those guides became outdated and out of print. The current set of guides represents a refresh of those publications, updated and improved for today’s traditional and digital research resources.

About the Author

Kay Haviland Freilich is both author of this guide, Pennsylvania, and is co-editor of the entire NGS Research in the States Series. In her own research she was able to track her own family back to her eighth great-grandmother who was a passenger on the Welcome, arriving in 1682, along with William Penn. Researching her way back from her great grandfather to her eighth great-grandmother exposed her to all types of Pennsylvania records.

Freilich’s interests and activities in genealogy go beyond research to include lecturing, writing, and volunteer work. She has contributed on major projects like The Source, as well as her own work, and she is board certified.

More About the State Guides (from the Introduction)

“Readers should be aware that every effort has been made to include current web addresses throughout the publication and all were verified immediately prior to release…”

“Two research facilities used by many genealogists are the Family History Library (FHL) and the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). Most genealogists are familiar with teh abbreviations used for these two facilities and they are used in these publications. Otherwise the use of abbreviations and acronyms is kept to a minimum.”

Table of Contents

History and Settlements

  • Early History
  • Settlement
  • Migration
  • Economy
  • Jurisdiction Changes

Archives, Libraries, and Societies

  • Pennsylvania State Archives
  • State Library of Pennsylvania
  • Historical Society of Pennsylvania
  • Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania
  • National Archives — Mid Atlantic Region
  • Other Libraries
  • Other Societies
  • Other Federal Repositories

Major Resources

  • Aids to Research
  • Atlases, Gazetteers, and Maps
  • Biographical Guides
  • Business Records
  • Cemetery Records
  • Census and Census Substitutes
    • Colonial Enumerations
    • State Censuses
    • Federal Censuses
  • City and County Directories
  • City-Level Research
  • County-Level Research
  • Court Records
    • Federal Courts
  • Directories
  • Ethnic Records
    • African Americans
    • Germans/Pennsylvania “Dutch”
    • Native Americans
    • Scots-Irish
  • Folk Art Sources
  • Land Records
  • Military Records and Benefits
    • Militia and National Guard
    • French and Indian War
    • American Revolution
    • Whiskey Rebellion
    • War of 1812
    • Mexican War
    • Civil War
    • Spanish-American War and Philippine Insurrection
    • Mexican Border Campaign
    • World War I
    • World War II
    • Military Benefits
  • Naturalization and Immigration Records
  • Newspapers
  • Probate Records
  • Religious Records
  • School Records and Poor School-Children Lists
  • Tax Records
    • County and State
    • Federal
  • Vital Records
    • Adoption Records
    • Birth and Death Records
    • Marriage and Divorce Records
  • Voter Rolls
  • Women of Pennsylvania
  • Conclusion

These guides are an excellent resource for state by state research. Available guides, including NGS Research in the States Series: Pennsylvania are available from Family Roots Publishing.


Other guides in series reviewed to date (in alphabetical order):

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload the CAPTCHA.