Genealogy at the State Library of Pennsylvania

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.

State library of Pennsylvania Genealogy

Genealogy at the State library of Pennsylvania 

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 Website
Genealogy at the State Library of Pennsylvania

 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 ra-reflib@pa.govand 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

Pennsylvania Documents
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: Ra-reflib@pa.gov

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.

Newspapers at the Power Library

Newspapers 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:

Power Library genealogy

Pennsylvania Photos and Documents Collection at the Power Library.

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:

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.

  1. Type in a location and the word map
  2. Use the filters on the right side of the page > Library > State Library
  3. Click to select a map
  4. Try filtering to Full Text Online
  5. 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:

  1. On the State Library website go to General Public > Research Guides > Newspapers
  2. Click the link to the Pennsylvania Newspaper Archive
  3. Browse by title or date, or use the drop-down menus
  4. On the viewer page, zoom into the desired article. Then click Clip/Print Image
  5. Right-click on the clipped image to save it to your hard drive.
  6. The Persistent link is the URL address to your clipping.

Google Site Search Tip 

This tip comes from my book The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox and my Premium Membership video The Genealogist’s Google Search Methodology.

The Genealogist's Google Toolbox Third edition Lisa Louise Cooke

Available at the Genealogy Gems store.

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.

How to Use the Internet Archive

Resources

 

 

Free WWI App from the National Archives

The National Archives is marking the World War I Centennial with a new app, as well as programs and exhibits. Here’s the scoop from their press release:

WWI Free App National ArchivesThe United States declared war on April 6, 1917

Washington, DC – The National Archives marks today’s World War I Centennial with a new mobile app, special programs, featured document displays, traveling exhibits, and a special new webpage highlighting all related resources on National Archives News.

Remembering WWI App

Remembering wwi appToday, the National Archives launches the Remembering WWI interactive app, now available free of charge through iTunes (iPad only) and Google Play. The app commemorates the 100-year anniversary, in April 2017, of the U.S. entry into World War I.

The app provides an unprecedented collection of WWI content digitized and preserved as part of the larger Wartime Films Project – much of it never-before-seen by the public – including photos and film shot by the U.S. Signal Corps from 1914 –1920.

National Archives’ partners for the design and testing of the app included: Historypin, Library of Congress, Smithsonian’s Museum of American History, WWI Centennial Commission, WWI Museum, and, American Association of State and Local History.  This project is made possible in part by an anonymous donor and the National Archives Foundation.

Saving World War I and II Media through Digitization and Crowdsourcing

Thanks to a generous donation from an anonymous donor, the National Archives embarked on a three-year project to digitize and create public engagement with World War I and II motion pictures and photographs. The project’s original goal was to digitize 70 films and 75,000 photos, and foster engagement on the new digital platform, but by the end of the project, the National Archives had digitized 164 films (337 reels) for more than 65 hours’ worth of content, in addition to more than 100,000 photographs. This is the first time that many of these photos and films will be viewed by the public. All scans are available through the National Archives Catalog or on our YouTube page.

Special WWI-related Exhibits

Featured Document Display: Making the World Safe for Democracy: U.S. Enters WWI
East Rotunda Gallery, National Archives Museum, through May 3, 2017

To commemorate this centennial, the National Archives presents a special display of the Joint Resolution declaring war against the Imperial German Government, April 6, 1917. President Woodrow Wilson signed this declaration of war on April 6, 1917, ending America’s neutral stance on the World War conflict and formally declaring war against Germany. The National Archives Museum’s “Featured Document” exhibit is made possible in part by the National Archives Foundation through the generous support of Ford Motor Company Fund.

Traveling Exhibit:  Over Here: Americans at Home in World War I

Over Here: Americans at Home in World War I draws on the unparalleled holdings of the National Archives to capture the patriotic fervor of draft registration, the emotional good-byes of men leaving for training camps, the “hoopla” of Liberty Loan drives, the craze for volunteerism, and the violence of vigilantism.  The exhibit is divided into three themes: Mobilizing the Nation, Stirring Patriotic Passions, and Policing Enemies at Home.  Over Here is organized by the National Archives, and traveled by the National Archives Traveling Exhibits Service (NATES).

Traveling Exhibit:  Over There:  Americans Abroad in World War I

After the United States entered World War I, 1917, millions of American men joined or were drafted into the armed services. Some 2 million served in Europe with the American Expeditionary Forces. Over There: Americans Abroad in World War I showcases World War I overseas military photography from the immense photographic holdings of the National Archives. The exhibition includes photographs from the fronts, behind the lines, and the consequences of the war and how it was remembered.  Over There is organized by the National Archives, and traveled by the National Archives Traveling Exhibits Service (NATES).

World War I Social Media Day Events in DC, nationwide, and online!

Tuesday, April 11, 2017
Join the National Archives to participate in World War I Social Media Day, hosted by the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. Museums, archives, and other educational institutions around the world will share a day of social media activity focused on #WorldWar1 history.

Facebook:  World War I in Photos: A Peek inside the Special Media Research Room
10:30 a.m.—Military historian and archivist Mitchell Yockelson showcases his favorite photographs from the war and answers your questions.  National Archives on Facebook

Facebook Live with the National Archives at NYC: Online resources for WWI Military Records
2 p.m.—Tune in to Facebook Live for a recap of our Finding Family Genealogy Series, which will be discussing online resources for veterans and military records related to World War I.
National Archives at New York City on Facebook

Twitter:  ​Q&A: U.S. Presidents who served during World War I
11 a.m.—Join archivists from the Presidential Libraries to learn how Presidents Hoover, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Truman, and Eisenhower served during the war.
Presidential Libraries: @OurPresidents, @HooverPresLib, @FDRLibrary, @TrumanLibrary, @IkeLibrary

World War I poster free WWI app National ArchivesDigital Catalog: Tagging mission: World War I posters
All day—Become a citizen archivist and join us to help “tag” World War I posters. By adding keywords of details and features found on the poster in our catalog, you can help make them more accessible to researchers, students, and the public. Educators and classroom teachers, this is a great way to get students involved in doing American history! New to tagging? Get started!

Transcription mission: Fire and Orientation notes by Harry S. Truman
All day—Calling all military history buffs! Help us to transcribe Harry S. Truman’s handwritten notes that he took during his training to learn to fire the French 75 millimeter guns that his artillery unit used while in France. Learn about the future President’s experience during the war. Get started!

World War One Programs

Panel discussion: 100 Years: World War I and The Weight of Sacrifice
Thursday, April 13, at 7 p.m., William G. McGowan Theater, National Archives Museum

Author lecture and book signing:  The Hello Girls: America’s First Women Soldiers
Tuesday, April 25, at noon, William G. McGowan Theater, National Archives Museum

Lecture: African American Soldiers in the Great War Through Photographs
Thursday, May 4, at 2 p.m., William G. McGowan Theater, National Archives Museum

The National Archives Museum is located on the National Mall on Constitution Ave. at 9th Street, NW. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily, except Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Related Online Resources at the National Archives

Launching the Beta Program for our Remembering WWI App – post by Archivist David S. Ferriero

U.S. Entry into the War to End All Wars – Pieces of History blog

Joint Resolution of April 6, 1917, Declaring a State of War

World War I Articles in Prologue Magazine

Get Started with the WWI App – National Archives History Hub Post and FAQs

US Genealogy Records that Came Online this Summer

Not everyone was on vacation this summer. Genealogy companies and archives have been busy adding new records to their online collections. 

US Genealogy Records new this summer

Mississippi Newspapers

In late July 2019 the Mississippi Department of Archives and History announced that “More than 238,000 pages of out-of-copyright Mississippi newspapers are currently online, with approximately 90,000 more pages expected to go online in the next six months.”

According to their press release: Researchers from around the world now have free online access to hundreds of Mississippi newspapers. The Mississippi Department of Archives and History (MDAH) participated in the National Digital Newspaper Program, a project funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) to digitize newspapers across the country. The publications are accessible through the Library of Congress on its Chronicling America website, along with papers from other participating states.

“Primary sources are key for students because it makes history relatable,” said Al Wheat, MDAH director of education and co-coordinator of Mississippi History Day. “Every year we send students to the National History Day competition, which offers two prizes to students who made use of Chronicling America in their research. Instead of simply reading about a historical event, students can learn from the people who experienced that event through this exceptional website.”

MDAH has the most extensive collection of Mississippi newspapers in the state, housing more than 13,000 microfilm rolls of papers in its archival collections. NEH provided funding for the Mississippi digitization project through three, two-year grants.

Mississippi content includes titles published between 1820 and 1963 in fifty-three of the state’s eighty-two counties. Ninety antebellum titles, including papers published in Canton, Carrollton, Columbus, Holly Springs, Kosciusko, Panola, Port Gibson, Yazoo City, and Woodville, are online.

Mississippi Newspapers

Twenty-three titles have at least one issue published between 1860 and 1865. Noteworthy Civil War-era titles include the American Citizen published in Canton, the Eastern Clarionpublished in Paulding, the Daily Clarion published in Meridian, the Macon Beacon, and the Oxford Intelligencer.

More than 100 newspapers document the Reconstruction era in the state through 1922. Included are titles from Aberdeen, Bay St. Louis, Corinth, Ellisville, Hernando, Liberty, Okolona, Philadelphia, Ripley, and Starkville.

A number of issues published between 1923 and 1963 will go online within the next six months. Included are several African American newspapers: the Jackson Advocate, the Southern Advocate published in Mound Bayou, and the Weekly Echo published in Meridian. Two newspapers that will go online won the Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Writing: the Lexington Advertiser edited by Hazel Brannon Smith and the Chronicle edited by Ira Harkey, Jr.

Access the newspapers for free at chroniclingamerica.loc.gov.

Another exciting free historical newspaper website!

Click the video below to watch:

Georgia Obituaries and Burial Records

The Madison GA Cemetery Stewardship Commission announced that the Madison Cemeteries website now has over 800 obits for our 4,000 burials, and they are adding more every day.

 

U.S. Genealogical Records at Findmypast

Pennsylvania, Oath of Allegiance

Did your ancestor arrive in Pennsylvania between 1727 and 1775 or between 1786 and 1808? This records hold the names of thousands of male immigrants who were required to take an oath of allegiance to the British Crown and the Province of Pennsylvania as well as immigration lists between 1786 and 1808. Within these pages you will find your ancestor’s name, the ship they arrived on, there and arrival ports, and arrival date. Names are organised by vessel.

All males over sixteen years of age were obliged to take this oath and declaration, as soon as after arrival as possible. The lists of foreigners arriving after 1786 including the names of wives and children. The full oath can actually be found on image number 9. An index to surnames begins on image number 675.

Pennsylvania Immigrants, 1727-1776

Explore this 1856 publication which, in its own words, is a ‘A Collection of Upwards Of Thirty Thousand Names Of German, Swiss, Dutch, French And Other Immigrants In Pennsylvania From 1727 To 1776: With A Statement Of The Names Of Ships, Whence They Sailed, And The Date Of Their Arrival At Philadelphia, Chronology.’

As well as names, these records may also provide you with historical and biographical notes. The prefece went on to add that ‘present descendants of the early German, Swiss and French immigrants, now numbering millions living in Pennsylvania, New York, Maryland, Virginia, and in the Western States, will be enabled, if they procure this publication, to ascertain the time of their ancestors’ arrival and other facts of value to most of them.’

United States, Passenger and Crew Lists has been created by merging all of Findmypast’s existing US passenger and crew lists with over 2 million brand new records covering Boston, Texas and South Carolina.

Spanning over 160 years of travel, this vast national collection brings together records of passengers and crew who arrived in America by ship or by plane, from the East Coast to the West Coast, between 1800 and 1964.

passenger list genealogy records

Passenger boarding in the 1950s.

Including ship manifests, crew lists, flight manifests, passenger arrival lists and more, the records document the arrival of millions of immigrant from Europe, Asia, and South America into the United States, where most settled to create a new life for themselves and their descendants.

A significant portion of the documents available within United States, Passenger and Crew Lists have been produced through a combination of historical records found at the National Archives & Record Administration (NARA) in Washington D.C. A number of the crew lists have also been made available by the Mystic Seaport Museum in Connecticut.

The collection also includes records provided in partnership with the John F Kennedy Trust Ltd, an organization which has worked with the Balch Institute, the Ellis Island Restoration Commission and the Battery Conservancy to compile a comprehensive database of Irish emigration to the United States.

Passenger lists are just one of many records that detail your family’s journey to the United States. Transcripts will reveal your ancestor’s birth year, birth place, place of arrival, arrival year and ship name.

Images will provide additional information such who your ancestor was traveling with, their occupation, last permanent residence, and the names of those who died during the voyage. On crew lists, you may discover your ancestors position on the chip, whether they were able to read or write, length of service, as well as a physical description.

United States, Passenger and Crew Lists

Over 777,000 new records from the major port city of Baltimore in Maryland have recently been added to these passenger and crew lists.

This national collection brings together records of passengers and crew who arrived in America by ship or by plane from the East Coast to the West Coast and will reveal where your ancestor was born, where they sailed from, where they arrived and when.

Billion Graves at FMP

Pinpoint your ancestor’s final resting place with new additions to our Billion Graves Cemetery Indexes. Our latest update includes:

cemetery and grave research

Tombstones are records too.

Cemetery records are of great importance in discovering where and when your ancestor died. They can also provide you with information regarding their birth and marriage dates.

With an abundance of cemeteries, it can be overwhelming trying to pinpoint the precise cemetery in which your ancestor was laid to rest, and visiting each potential location is costly. However, in partnering with BillionGraves, we aim to make available all the cemetery records held on their site for free, saving you time and money as you search for your ancestor.

BillionGraves is the largest resource for GPS-tagged headstone and burial records on the web, with over 12 million headstone records.

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