Visiting the WPGS Library

More information about visiting the WPGS Library in the Pennsylvania Department on the Third Floor of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh (CLP), Main Branch, in the Oakland neighborhood of Pittsburgh.

About the WPGS Library Collection

The WPGS Library is a non-circulating collection of materials made available to its members and the general public to aid in the research of general genealogy, but particularly Western Pennsylvania ancestors. WPGS has standard reference volumes and indexes on immigration and emigration records, military history, and genealogy research methods. Several hundred volumes of published family histories are cataloged by the primary surname(s) covered. A few resources such as vertical family files are not in the card catalog. Many family genealogies not found elsewhere, research materials, microforms, vertical files of family research, church histories, cemetery histories, and locality research, as well as the First Families of Western Pennsylvania ancestors. A few resources, such as vertical family files, are not in the card catalog but are available upon request.

The WPGS Library is housed in the  Local History & Genealogy Department on the Third Floor of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh (CLP), Main Branch, in the Oakland neighborhood of Pittsburgh. Our thousands of volumes focus on Western Pennsylvania records, yet extend to nearby areas in Ohio, West Virginia, and beyond.

The Local History & Genealogy Department’s (formerly the Pennsylvania Department) collections are now available on a limited basis to visitors. Researchers are encouraged to contact CLP at 412-622-3114, email padept@carnegielibrary.org, or use the Chat feature on the home page of the library’s website at www.carnegielibrary.org to learn more about requesting materials.

Access to WPGS’s Collections

Now that the Carnegie Library can accommodate researchers on the 2nd floor, WPGS is also inviting our members who wish to visit to make appointments 7 days in advance through the library research email account at research@wpgs.org.

We currently have some availability on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 10 AM-2 PM. Other days/times may be arranged based on volunteer availability.

WPGS volunteers will need to physically transport requested materials down the elevator to the 2nd-floor reference area for use by our members. Members requesting an appointment will need to provide a list of the materials they wish to use when they make an appointment.

Check back for updates.

Materials from the Carnegie Library’s Local History & Genealogy Department and the WPGS library are currently available on a limited basis. See the above section for more information on access.

The WPGS library is available when the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh Main (Oakland) Branch is open:
Monday‐Thursday: 10 am‐8 pm
Friday & Saturday: 10 am‐5:30 pm
Sunday: 12‐5 pm

Parking is available in the garage located behind the library; enter at the intersection of Forbes and South Craig streets. There is a fee for parking in the garage. Limited metered street parking near the library is also available.

No appointments are needed to use the WPGS library collection. However certain resources, such as our microfilm, can only be used when a volunteer is present. Please call ahead at 412‐687‐6811 if you need access to these materials.

Check the WPGS Catalog of volumes and microfilm or the CLP Catalog at and make yourself a list of resources you want to research.

There are several hotels located within walking distance of the library, including a Hilton Garden Inn, a Wyndham Pittsburgh, a Hampton Inn, and more.

We do not have volunteers available every day. Please call ahead at 412‐687‐6811 if you would like to check the volunteer schedule.

Library Entrances:

  1. Main Entrance on Schenley Drive Extension, just off Forbes Avenue.
  2. Through the Portal Entrance, from the parking garage. Follow the arrows to the Library.

Click Here for a Map

You will want to bring writing implements and paper, as well as your tablet, smartphone, and/or laptop, with corresponding power cords. Outlets are available.

Food and beverages are not permitted in the Pennsylvania Department. CLP has a coffee shop on the first floor and cafeteria on the basement level. Many restaurants are within a 10‐minute walk of the library.

Photocopying or scanning of library materials is generally allowed for materials in good condition. If in doubt, please ask a
volunteer or CLP staff member for advice. Photocopiers are available. Copies cost 25 cents per page; scans can be saved to your flash drive at no cost. Printing from a library computer, or your own device, costs 25 cents per page. Digital photography is generally allowed.

Traditional and digital microfilm readers and printers are available in the library. Pages can be saved to your flash drive or emailed at no charge. Microfilm printing costs 30 cents per page.

The WPGS Library is staffed by volunteers who are available to assist patrons with limited genealogical research within the scope of the WPGS collection and resources. If we know what day you plan to visit, we may be able to have a volunteer available to assist you. Please let us know at least one week in advance by emailing your plans (date and time) to research@wpgs.org.

You may also complement your research activity by consulting with our Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh (CLP) colleagues in the Pennsylvania Department.

  • Thousands of volumes focusing on Western Pennsylvania records, extending to nearby areas in Ohio, West Virginia, and beyond. Standard reference volumes and indexes on immigration and emigration records, military history, and genealogy research methods. Check the catalog.
  • WPGS microfilm: Check the catalog.
  • Fold3 and NewspaperArchive.com: WPGS sponsors a subscription to both Fold3 and NewspaperArchive.com, accessible on the computers in the Pennsylvania Department. Out‐of‐town patrons may request use of a CLP guest library card for access.
  • Family Files: File folders titled with surnames. Include miscellaneous family charts, letters of inquiry, photocopies of articles, etc., submitted by interested parties.
  • First Family Files: Applications with documentation for individuals accepted into membership of First Families of Western Pennsylvania who lived in early Western Pennsylvania before 1810.
  • WPGS Member Ancestor Charts & Index Cards. Index of names, with identifying dates and places, where available, that are included on members’ ancestor charts
  • Naturalization Records: WPGS holds microfilm copies of the naturalizations performed by the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, 1790‐1906. Records are indexed in a seven‐volume set available in the library.
  • Church and Cemetery Files: Small booklets, photocopies of booklets, photocopies of articles, tombstone readings, etc.
  • Periodicals: Various newsletters and journals. They range through genealogy; U.S. and U.S. regions; states; Pennsylvania, general; Pennsylvania, by county; Pennsylvania, locations in Allegheny County.
  • WPGS Public Surname Book: Contact information for individuals researching particular surnames or individuals.
  • CLP has computers available for you to use. All you need is a Library Card. If you don’t have a Library Card, get one for free. Time limits for public computers may apply if others are waiting to use the computers.
  • If you bring your own PC, outlets are available at most tables.
  • Guests can use Library printers for a small fee. Print from a Library computer or connect to wireless printing from your laptop.

Additionally, while you are here, you can check out what’s available in the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh’s (CLP) Pennsylvania Department Collection. Their enhanced resources include:

  • Ancestry.com Library Edition
    This resource is only available from inside a CLP or Allegheny County library location. A comprehensive source of information for conducting genealogical and local history research.
  • Sanborn Digital Fire Insurance Maps, 1867 ‐ 1970 ‐ Pennsylvania
     This resource is only available from within the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh at present.  Sanborn fire insurance maps are the most frequently consulted maps in both public and academic libraries. The maps provide a wealth of information, such as building outlines, size and shape, windows and doors, street and sidewalk widths, boundaries, and property numbers. Plans often include details on construction materials and building use; and also depict pipelines, railroads, wells, water mains, dumps, and other features likely to affect the property’s vulnerability to earthquake, fire, and flood.  Combined with other sources such as city directories, photographs, small-scale maps, census records, genealogies, and statistical data, the Sanborn maps provide an unparalleled picture of life in American towns and cities.
  • HeritageQuest
    This resource is available to CLP cardholders only. A comprehensive source of information for conducting genealogical and local history research.
  • Genealogy Connect
    This resource is available to CLP cardholders only. Multiple volume searching of 1,500 reference works from Genealogical Publishing & Clearfield Companies. Sources include essential “how-to” works that help to build a good family tree; colonial period works identifying early American settlers and chronicling American immigration; royal and noble ancestry; histories and source records of Native American tribes.
  • FamilySearch Affiliate Library
     CLP is now a Family History Center affiliate.  The special access that family history centers have granted to their databases only works when the online services are accessed through a computer in a Family History Center. Please note that entering the CLP website will not provide access to the full versions that have been authorized for family history center use.  Access is only available within a CLP location.
  • Additional microfilm
  • Read more about these CLP resources at https://www.carnegielibrary.org/clp_research_subject/genealogy/
  • RECollection Studio – a digitization lab: https://www.carnegielibrary.org/recollectionstudio/