One thing that many genealogists have in common is a connection to Pennsylvania. Perhaps one of your family tree branches extends back to the early founding of the Pennsylvania colony. Or it may be that one of your ancestors was one of the hundreds of thousands who arrived through the port of Philadelphia. Even if you don’ t have Pennsylvania ancestors the State Library of Pennsylvania has a lot to offer.
In this episode I’ll be sharing with you a video of my interview with two librarians from the State Library of Pennsylvania. We’ll discuss their collections and specifically what’s available through their website. After the interview I’ll show you some specific search techniques that you can use at the State Library of Pennsylvania website, including a trick that you can use with any state library website.
Elevenses with Lisa Episode 46 Show Notes
My special Guests from the State Library of Pennsylvania:
Kathy Hale, Government Documents Librarian
Amy Woytovich, Genealogy Librarian
State Library of Pennsylvania Update
This interview was recorded in December 2020. Here’s the latest update (as of this writing) on the library closure and access:
- The State Library is currently closed to all visitors. However, staff is teleworking. People may send inquiries to email@example.com staff will answer questions as best they can.
- Renovations have begun on our library in the Forum Building. There may be times we cannot get to the materials requested because of the construction.
- Interlibrary loan services are available, but patrons must check if their home library has the equipment and are open for patrons to use that equipment. The Library still ships all over the U.S.
- Watch their website for instructions on how to access the State Library of Pennsylvania when it does reopen to the public.
The State Library of Pennsylvania Background
The library has been a federal repository library since 1858, and is one of the oldest in the country. The government printing office deposits materials here.
The State Library of Pennsylvania Collection
The State Library of Pennsylvania physical collection includes:
- 30,000 volumes
- 100,000 reels of microfilm
- A million pieces of microfiche
The State Library of Pennsylvania digitized items include:
- County and family histories
- Local histories
- Small church histories from rural areas
- City directories
- Passenger lists
- Regimental histories (Revolution to Spanish-American War)
- Pension Lists
- Pennsylvania Published Archives (collection of military, government, marriage, immigration records from colonial times)
- The 1940 U.S. Federal Census
Example: a report for Pennsylvania of the 25th and 50th anniversaries of the Battle of Gettysburg. Includes information gathered at reunions including names, pictures, and more.
U.S. Government Documents – Serial Set
This collection includes reports to the legislature from agencies and institutions. Example: The Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) were compelled to provide to Congress a yearly report of the names of people approved by DAR. These can be accessed through many libraries, the federal government or by contacting the State Library of Pennsylvania via email: Rafirstname.lastname@example.org
State Library of Pennsylvania Research Guides
Amy discusses research guides available on the website. However, here is the link to the topics she specifically mentions such as Cemeteries and Zeamer collection – recorded information about Cumberland County PA cemeteries. General Research Guides page. These research guide pages include links to additional helpful websites.
State Library of Pennsylvania website’s Genealogy Page
At the top of the page look at the For General Public tab which will take you to all of the genealogy research guides. Visit the Genealogy page at the State Library of Pennsylvania.
Newspapers at the State Library of Pennsylvania
The library’s collection of newspapers includes papers from all 67 Pennsylvania counties on microfilm. They do have a lot of digitized newspapers at the Pennsylvania Photos and Documents Collection at the Power Library.
The Power Library
You can find the Power Library by going to the libraries home page, and under the For General Public tab go to Our Collections > Power Library. Or visit the Power Library website at Powerlibrary.org.
- Electronic Databases: you have to be a resident with a library card.
- Digital Documents: you don’t have to be a Pennsylvanian to access this collection.
At the top of the Power Library home page on the right you’ll find Digital Docs and Photos:
There you will find many materials from Pennsylvania colleges including yearbooks. You can browse by subject area, with Genealogy being one of those areas.
Interlibrary Loan and Lookups
At the time of the interview the library was not open for interlibrary loan and lookups. Check the website for the latest updates.
The library does loan its newspaper microfilm. Up to 5 reels of microfilm per request. Kathy says that if you find a newspaper article at Newspapers.com and you see the title, date and the page that an article is on, you can provide the information to the interlibrary load reference librarian at your local library and place a request for a scan of the article from the State Library of PA microfilm. The article can then be returned to you digitally through interlibrary loan. The digitized scan is yours to keep.
The Librarians Favorite Collections
Amy’s Pick: Historic maps found at the library’s website Home > For General Public > Genealogy and Local History > Maps and Geographic Information. This includes Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps. Note: log in with a library card may be required. Contact the library with questions.
Kathy’s favorite collections include:
- Map Collection consisting of over 35,000 maps.
- The 5 generations from the Mayflower collection.
Usage of Materials
Usage rights and copyright are important considerations when utilizing library materials. Usage depends on the individual item’s copyright. It should be researched as much as possible. Check the meta data of digital images for copyright information.
How to Get Research Help from the State Library of Pennsylvania
“Think of Amy and I as your personal librarians.” Kathy Hale, Librarian
Contact State Library staff by phone at 717-787-2324 or by email at:
- Reference Questions: email@example.com
- Law Reference: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Interlibrary Loan: email@example.com
- Makerspace: firstname.lastname@example.org
Lisa’s Tips for Using the State Library of Pennsylvania Website
Maps for Genealogy
At the website go to Home page > General Public Tab > Our Collections > Search our Resources.
- Type in a location and the word map
- Use the filters on the right side of the page > Library > State Library
- Click to select a map
- Try filtering to Full Text Online
- Look for the Online Access link, just above Text Item Call Number.
On the map viewer page, click the thumbnail button (looks like a checkerboard) to see multiple pages at a time. You’ll find the Download button in the bottom right-hand corner. The Print button is in the upper right corner.
Cite your source: Go back to the result page, and scroll down. Click the red button called Cite This. This allows you to copy the source citation which you can then paste into other documents and programs.
Newspapers for Genealogy
The Library of Congress Chronicling America website has many Pennsylvania old newspapers, but it doesn’t include all of the newspaper that the library has in its collection. Here’s how to find old Pennsylvania newspapers at the State Library website:
- On the State Library website go to General Public > Research Guides > Newspapers
- Click the link to the Pennsylvania Newspaper Archive
- Browse by title or date, or use the drop-down menus
- On the viewer page, zoom into the desired article. Then click Clip/Print Image
- Right-click on the clipped image to save it to your hard drive.
- The Persistent link is the URL address to your clipping.
Google Site Search Tip
Many websites have their own search engine. However, each search engine is only as good as it was programmed. If you can’t find what you want on a website like the State Library PA website, try using a Google site search. Site search tells Google to search for your search terms only on the website you specify.
In my example in the video, you can see that Google found the one page mentioning the surname in a listing of microfilms much faster than I would have found it digging around and navigating the website itself. This page was not a card catalog entry so it would not have come up in a search of the catalog on the website.
Learn More About the State Library of PA Collections
In episode 43 of Elevenses with Lisa we discussed genealogy records available for free at the Internet Archive. The State Library of Pennsylvania has been partnering with he Internet Archive to digitize many additional items from their collection. You can access these items for free at the State Library Internet Archive Collection. This collection includes a large number of World War I materials as well as a growing number of 19th and 20th century pamphlet volumes.
- Get My Free Genealogy Gems Newsletter – click here.
- Bonus Download exclusively for Premium Members: Download the show notes handout. (Not a Premium Member? Become a Genealogy Gems Premium Member today.)
Elevenses with Lisa Episode 44 Show Notes
Do you have a DNA problem?
Maybe it’s as simple as having a ton of matches and not knowing what to do with them. How do you keep track of all those matches. How to you know which matches to focus on? How can you can use all your matches to do what you really want to do, which is learn more about my family history?
In this episode of Elevenses with Lisa we are visiting with someone who has worked past many of those problems. She uses her DNA matches to solve some of her genealogical questions and the questions of her patrons. Today she’s here to help you!
My special guest is Sara Allen, a librarian at the Genealogy Center at the Allen County Public Library. I wanted to talk to Sara because she’s not a biologist, or a Genetic Genealogy Guru. She’s like you and me: she’s passionate about family history! She shares genetic genealogy with folks in a very practical, and easy-to-understand way.
As a side note, we were lucky to record this episode because the day Sara and I were to meet to record the library was closed due to a snow storm. I’m in Texas and we’re buried in a deep freeze with devastating power outages, and at our house, no water for a time. But we moved things around and got it done. However, in all the chaos I managed to put my microphone on the wrong setting, so I’m going to sound like I’m sitting in a Folgers coffee can. But that doesn’t matter because it is what Sara has to say that’s really important.
Oh, and they were also doing construction at the library the day we finally recorded, so it’ll sound occasionally like we use jack hammers on our DNA! However, neither snow nor ice nor lack of water nor construction zones will keep us (as your faithful genealogists) from the swift completion of this appointed show.
How to Start Solving Genealogical Problems with DNA
Sara shared her basic over-arching plan for using DNA to answer a genealogical question:
- First, do comprehensive traditional genealogical research on the problem.
- Then do DNA testing.
- Follow the clues where they lead.
- Use the genealogical proof standard to come to an accurate conclusion/solution. Also view the DNA standards.
Then she shared the specific steps for her research plan.
Research Plan for Solving Genealogical Problems with DNA
- Identify your research problem.
- Summarize genealogical research results.
- Choose most relevant DNA test/tests to order.
- Choose the most helpful family member(s) to test. These are people who carry the particular DNA that falls you will need.
- Complete the rest of your family tree to at least 4th great grandparents (4GG) if possible.
Choosing the Right DNA Test
Step 3 was to choose the most relevant DNA test. This is important because there are three main kinds of tests out there. Each has strengths and weaknesses. Understanding what each test is capable of is key to getting the results you need.
- Autosomal test – autosomal DNA is inherited 50/50 from mother and father. Both men and women can be tested. Start with this test, unless your mystery goes farther back than 5-6 generations of great grandparents.
- Y Chromosome test – only males can test. It tests a man’s direct paternal line.
- Mitochondrial (mtDNA) test – Both men and women inherit Mitochondrial DNA and can be tested for it. However, it’s important to understand that only women can pass it on to the next generation. Follow the line of potential inheritance in order to identify the right person to test. The Mitochondrial test tests the direct maternal line only.
How to Choose the Best Family Member to DNA Test
If you’ve decided that an Autosomal DNA test is what you need, a relative one or two generations older (on the correct side of the family) is always better. Examples: Parents, Aunts/Uncles, Grandparents, Great-aunts/uncles, Parent’s first cousin
If you’re going to do a Y or mtDNA, choose a family member who falls within the correct path of DNA inheritance.
Sorting DNA Matches
- Sort your matches out by family line or common ancestor couple.
- View your match’s name, family tree or family names, and shared matches to help you sort into family lines.
- Use known cousins to help you sort. If you are related to a cousin in only one way, then your “shared matches” with that cousin should be “relatives” on the same side of the family as the cousin.
- Sara uses color coding dots to stay organized and detangle matches.
If there is a family tree, copy it, either electronically or print it out on paper. Compare and contrast trees looking for common names, common ancestor couples, common places. Work on establishing relationship between the different matches based on their trees. In other words, do genealogy!
Case #1: Who Were the Parents of Dovey Renolds Allen?
Here’s an outline of the case Sara covers in this episode so you can follow along.
Step 1: Define the Problem
Dovey Reynolds was born around 1822 in North Carolina and was married in 1846 in Owen County, Indiana to Phillip Allen. She died in 1901 in Jefferson County, Kansas. No records have been found naming her parents.
Step 2: Write a Research Summary
- Records for Dovey as a married adult were found
- Dovey’s obituary and death certificate from Kansas were sought. No death certificate found. Obituary did not name parents.
- Owen County Library, Archives and Court house were searched. Extensive research was done, but not exhaustive; I did not document the sources that I used….so this work needs to be redone
- 1840 Census searched for Owen Co. Indiana Reynolds. 1 household found with female 15-19 years old (age Dovey would be), headed by William Reynolds.
- William Reynolds died in 1856, leaving a widow Amy, and naming children Jane, Solomon and Edmond in his will. Dovey not mentioned
- Possible father. No records found linking Dovey to this father
Step 3: Select the Right DNA Test
- Autosomal DNA: Dovey was my 3rd great grandmother. I have inherited approximately 3% of my autosomal DNA from her.
- Mitochondrial DNA is not relevant to this case due to inheritance path.
- Since she is a female, Y-DNA is not relevant.
Step 4: Select the Right Relative to Test
Autosomal DNA – test the closest living person to the mystery ancestor: Test my father or his sister (aunt) to get one generation closer.
Step 5: Complete Family Tree for Other Family Lines
DNA Match Analysis Strategies
- Search DNA matches’ trees for “Reynolds” surname.
- Each DNA company has a tool for searching your matches (23andme is not as good as others.)
Results of our search for “Reynolds” in matches’ trees: Look for Reynolds in key locations in Dovey’s life such as NC and IN, especially Owen Co. IN, and maybe KS:
- Matches with Reynolds in their trees from New England, Canada, England, etc. probably NOT related.
- Create a note for yourself, saying, for instance, “Maine Reynolds family” so you don’t waste time on probable irrelevant matches.
24 matches to William Reynolds’ descendants (27 cM – 8 cM)
- 10 matches from daughter Lucy
- 4 matches from daughter Diana
- 1 match from daughter Temperance
- 3 from son Solomon
- 2 from son Edmond
- 4 from daughter Deborah
DNA Preliminary Conclusions
- DNA links my aunt to descendants of 6 of William Reynold’s children.
- This does not prove that Dovey was William’s daughter. She could have been his niece or other close relative.
- Aunt shares the correct number of cMs with the matches to be 4th-5th cousins with them.
- Aunt’s shared matches with these Reynolds matches are on her paternal line – which is the correct side of the family.
- More genealogical research could provide the definite link.
Case #2: Mysterious Leroy Porter
Step 1: Define Problem:
- Leroy Porter was born in 1897 in France or PA
- Married Ina Hill and died in Michigan.
- Leroy was a teller of tall tales; family wants to know his origins, his parentage, and was he really from France?
Step 2: Research Summary
- Death certificate (informant wife) says parents were Daniel Porter and Mary Baschley of PA.
- Leroy cannot be found on any census prior to 1920 as Leroy Porter.
- No trace of parents of those names found
Step 3: DNA Testing Options
Granddaughter Kathy took the autosomal DNA test.
- Y-chromosome test not applicable for Kathy (there may be a candidate for Y DNA testing within the family)
- Mitochondrial DNA not applicable
Step 4: Test the correct person:
- Several of Leroy’s daughters are alive, so if they took an autosomal test, would be one generation closer.
Ancestry DNA match sorting options:
- “Add to Group” option
- Allows you to name the group, and add colored dots, up to 24 different colors
- Notes field = enter free text notes about matches
Evaluated trees of the possible matches from Leroy’s side. Two match groups identified:
- Hedges family of PA
- Crute family of PA
Can we find a marriage between these 2 families? Yes – Daniel Hedges married Alice Crute ca. 1894 probably Warren Co. PA.
More Genealogical Work
- Sara found “LeRoy Hedges” in the 1900 Warren Co. PA Census!
- She went through Kathy’s tree to find matches to Hedges/Crute family
- Were the cMs within range for the relationships? Yes = 2nd DNA points to Leroy Hedges being Leroy Porter.
Leroy Hedges = Leroy Porter Summary
- Family broken up by 1910
- Parents remarried
- Siblings in orphanage
- Leroy Hedges ran away and was not heard from again
- Did he go to Michigan and marry Ina Hill as Leroy Porter?
- No official name change document found
- Could compare photographs if Hedges family has one…
Elevenses with Lisa Episode 45 Show Notes
In this episode movie director / writer / producer David Zucker (of Airplane!, The Naked Gun starring Leslie Nielsen, Hot Shots starring Charlie Sheen and Lloyd Bridges, Kentucky Fried Movie) joins me for an hour of fun and family history!
David Zucker’s new book Before the Invention of Smiling tells the story of his grandmother, and the role she played in bridging the old world with the new world.
It’s a wonderful read that will give you insight into your own ancestors’ immigration as well as inspire you to capture your own family history stories. (Thank you for using our affiliate link for which we will be compensated at no additional cost to you.)
David will also dish on the behind the scenes of his most iconic movies that he made with his brother Jerry Zucker and long-time family friend Jim Abrahams. Get ready to laugh and be inspired by one of America’s best storytellers!
If you can’t make it to the live show, check back for the video replay after the show airs.