October is Archives Month and to kick it off, I'm highlighting the three archives in Pennsylvania that every family historian should visit. Each one has records for genealogy research that you just won't find anywhere else.
Pennsylvania State Archive
The Pennsylvania State Archive in Harrisburg is the repository for all records of the Pennsylvania state government. Genealogists would be most interested to visit in person for the following records housed here:
- Colonial land grants for the first settlers
- Military records from the Pennsylvania militia and National Guard
- State asylum and state prisoner records
The PA State Archive has done a great job to make their most frequently requested records - birth certificates and death certificates - available on Ancestry.
Heinz History Center Detre Archive
The Detre Archive at the Senator John H. Heinz History Center in Pittsburgh holds a diverse collection of materials. If your ancestors lived in the western half of Pennsylvania, this archive is a must do.
- Church and Synagogue records from Allegheny County and surrounding counties.
- Photographs and family papers from early industrialists of Pittsburgh.
- Many institutional records from hospitals, schools, and other places.
Its free to enter and research for the day. Be sure to check out the catalog so you can make a list before you go.
Historical Society of Pennsylvania
The Historical Society of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia is one of the oldest archives in the state.
- The Family History Room has compiled genealogies for thousands of surnames.
- The Pennsylvania Room hosts church, cemetery, and history collections from every county.
- One-of-a-kind family papers and business records are in the Closed Stacks. Those are available by request brought to you.
You can visit all three traveling west-to-east, with about a three hour drive between each. Spend a few days to a week here and go home with piles of records of your Pennsylvania ancestors.
© 2019–2022 PA Ancestors L.L.C. and Denys Allen. All Rights Reserved.