Information that can help guide your research in Western Pennsylvania.
We recommend the following sites to further your genealogical research.
If you’ve seen TV shows such as “Who Do You Think You Are,” you might have wondered about this whole genealogy thing and how you find your own ancestors. One way is to get famous and wait for someone to invite you onto that show. A more practical way is to start finding the information yourself.
This guide will point you to resources beginners can use to follow a variety of research paths.
This curated list will guide you to a variety of beginner-level resources and getting-started tutorials.
So you want to find out about your family history. Maybe you want to learn the identity of your ancestors, find out where they lived and what they did for a living? Or maybe your family lore includes stories of a Mayflower immigrant? Perhaps you’ve heard that your ancestor fought in the Revolutionary War or the Civil War? Or you may have medical concerns and wish to find out about your family’s medical legacy. Curiosity, lineage, and medical history are all common reasons to take up the growing hobby of genealogy.
This guide from the National Archives will introduce you to the types of records held at the National Archives that you can use in your own research.
These are indexes to all legally public (105 years old or more) birth certificates in Pennsylvania.
Online version of microfilmed indexes to delayed birth records filed between 1941 and 1971; birth dates can range from 1780-1920 or later, depending on the county of birth. (Requires a free account.)
Pennsylvania birth certificates from 1906-1911 are available online through Ancestry.com. Please follow directions at this link to create a free account with limited access to Pennsylvania records. Ancestry.com is also available at any library in Allegheny County.
Birth certificates later than 1911 must be ordered from the Department of Vital Records. This link has more information about the ways to order.
This database from FamilySearch includes records from across Pennsylvania. (Requires a free account.)
BillionGraves is the world’s largest resource for seachable cemetery GPS data.
This site contains volunteer-contributed information based on headstones in cemeteries across the United States.
This is a county-by-county list of cemetery records available online.
Search SAR’s database of documented patriots who served in the American Revolution.
This guide from the National Archives will help you learn how to use census records in your research.
This guide from the FamilySearch wiki will link you directly to specific census records you want to search. (Requires free account.)
On April 1, 2022, the 1950 Census will be released, and users will be able to access it for free through a dedicated website. A link to the website will be available here starting on April 1. This population census is the 17th decennial census of the United States.
These are indexes to all legally public (50 years old or more) death certificates in Pennsylvania.
Pennsylvania death certificates from 1906-1967 are available online through Ancestry.com. Please follow directions at this link to create a free account with limited access to Pennsylvania records.
Death certificates later than 1967 must be ordered from the Department of Vital Records. This link has more information about the ways to order.
This collection includes probate records created in Pennsylvania counties. The records include wills, estate records and indexes. (Requires a free account.)
Ancestry has free charts, forms, and blank census documents available for download. Blank charts and forms are useful for organizing your research, and blank census forms make it easier to see the format and column headings for a census.
Download a range of free PDF charts and forms to help with your research.
Use these blank forms to record your research results. Click on the title to view or print a PDF version of each.
Use these free charts and forms to track and organize your family history research.
This Genealogy and Local History collection is one of their largest services and consists of indexes, genealogies, state and county histories, family histories, city directories, atlases, land warranty maps, ship passenger lists, and compilations of church and cemetery records. The Library also has Federal Census records for Pennsylvania, from 1790 to 1930, on microfilm. Agricultural and business censuses are also available.
The Pennsylvania State Archives collects, preserves and makes available for study the permanently-valuable public records of the Commonwealth, with particular attention given to the records of state government. The State Archives also collects papers of private citizens and organizations relevant to Pennsylvania history.
The Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania (GSP) is a non-profit educational institution located at 2100 Byberry Road, Suite 111, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19116. Founded in 1892, GSP is one of the earliest genealogical societies in the United States, among the first to recognize the value of collecting and preserving the vital and personal records of people whose lives comprise much of our American history.
The Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania has the following research guides to help you with finding resources for researching Pennsylvania counties. The resource guides contain links to pages outside of the GSP website. Links can change and websites expire, so if a page doesn’t look like the information you think it should, you might want to double-check and let them know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A collection of handouts from past WPGS events.