The Pennsylvania State Archives collects, preserves and makes available public records of state government & some private collections. They have some valuable online collections include birth, death, land, & military records.



Birth Marriage and Death records #OnGenealogy

Birth, Marriage, & Death Records


Birth Records

1906-1915 Pennsylvania Birth Indices



Marriage Records

Pennsylvania Record of Marriages, 1885-1891



Death Records

1906-1970 Pennsylvania Death Indices





Residence records census land migration voting taxation #OnGenealogy

Residence Records


Farm Census for the year 1927 is available for viewing online.




Maps, 1681-present

  • For scans of General Highway Maps of Pennsylvania, click here
  • Archives Map Collection – A guide to Manuscript Group 11, which describes over 1,000 maps. The maps are grouped into seven sections: Colony and Commonwealth; Counties; Townships; Cities and Boroughs; Boundaries, Topography, Geology, Parks; Transportation (including Indian trails, roads and turnpikes, rivers and streams, canals, railroads, air routes, etc.); Military and Battlefields (French and Indian War, Revolutionary War, and Civil War).
  • Birdseye Maps – Views of various Pennsylvania municipalities drawn by Thaddeus Mortimer Fowler between 1887 and 1906.
  • Canal Commissioners Map Books – Map books prepared by engineers at the request of the Commissioners for the purpose of illustrating routes for the various divisions of the Pennsylvania Canal system or to illustrate the final layout after construction. Few of these show routes as they were finally laid out and operated and are primarily preliminary plans. In addition to providing overall layouts for how the finished canals were intended to look, they also contain numerous drawings of dams, raft chutes, feeders, reservoirs, locks, lock gates, lock houses, aqueducts, towing path bridges, and waste weirs illustrating how the system was intended to work.
  • County Maps and Atlases: General – Covering the late 1850s through the 1870s.
  • Land Office Map Collection – An index of Land Office maps found in Record Group 17, arranged alphabetically by county and then by township.
  • Melish-Whiteside County Maps – Maps, created between 1816 and 1821, of forty-four counties, Record Group 17.
  • Original Land Owners (“Connected Draft Maps”) – These maps, in Record Group 17, show original land owners for portions of land within selected townships across the Commonwealth.
  • Original Land Owners (“Warrantee Township Maps”) – Depict original land owners for selected townships across the Commonwealth.
  • Original Suveys (“Copied Surveys”) – These surveys, from Record Group 17, reproduce the original surveys completed for people who purchased unclaimed land directly from the land office maintained by William Penn and his familly, or (later) from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, between 1681 and 1912.
  • Railroad Maps – A guide to series in the State Archives



Land Records

Pre-1733 Land Record Indexes


Post-1733 Land Record Indexes

  • Depreciation Land Register – Index to purchasers of lands auctioned for the redemption of Revolutionary War depreciation certificates
  • Last Purchase Register – Index to warrants granted between 1786 and 1817 for lands in the purchase of 1784 northeast of the Allegheny River and Conewango Creek
  • Luzerne County Certified Townships – Index to surveys and patents for tracts in the Seventeen Certified Townships in northeastern Pennsylvania, originally claimed by Connecticut settlers
  • Patent Indexes – Index to land records by name of patentee, 1684-1957
  • Patent Tract Name Index – Index to land patents by the name of the tract
  • Warrant Registers – Index to warrants, surveys and patents, 1734-1957, by the name of the warrantee


Application Registers

  • East Side Applications (Register) – Register of land warrant applications for land east of the Susquehanna and within the purchases of 1754 and earlier filed between 1765 and 1769.
  • New Purchase Register – Register of land warrant applications for land within the purchase of 1768 filed in 1769-73
  • West Side Applications (Register) – Register of land warrant applications for land west of the Susquehanna and within the purchases of 1754 and earlier filed between 1766 and 1769


Surveys and Survey Lists

  • Copied Survey Books – official copies of original surveys filed in the Land Office
  • Index to Copied Survey Books – an index to the Full Alphabet, B and BB volumes of the Copied Survey Books
  • Indexes of Selected Original (Loose) Surveys – a number of partial, supplemental indexes for the surveys and survey books that can be used to locate surveys for some Donation Lands tracts, some Philadelphia Bank Lots, and some Old Rights tracts and Proprietary Rights tracts among others
  • Rejected Surveys – A list of warrantees for whom subsequent surveys were rejected by the Land Office


Military Bounty Land

  • Donation Lands – Records and indexes to Donation lands granted to Revolutionary War veterans of the Pennsylvania Line regiments



  • Connected Draft Maps – maps from the Land Office Map Collection that show warrant tracts for specific areas within various counties
  • Land Office Map Collection Database – Index to maps held in the Land Office Map collection in Record Group 17
  • Melish-Whiteside Maps – Early-nineteenth century county maps depicting township boundaries, rivers, churches, factories, mines, taverns, furnaces, forges, mills, ferries and roads
  • Warrantee Township Maps – Land office maps showing original warrant tracts within the boundaries of present-day townships





Daily Life Records school work church court government library social life #OnGenealogy

Daily Life Records


African American & Slavery

Slavery and Underground Railroad Resources – onsite and some online

Adams County, Prothonotary

      • Register of Negroes and Mulattoes, 1800-1820. Grouped alphabetically by surname of slave owner and thereunder chronologically by date of registration. This register is a record of children born to slaves in Adams County. Information provided for each child includes name, occupation, and place of residence of the slave owner; name, date of birth, and gender of the child; whether negro or mulatto; and the date registered

Bedford County, Prothonotary

      • Record of Negro Mulatto Slaves, 1780, 1798. [Images] Arranged chronologically by date the slave was registered. This roll documents slaves held in Bedford County. Information provided by each entry generally includes name and occupation of slave owner; slave’s name, age, and length of servitude; the classification “negro” or “mulatto,” and the date registered.
      • Record of Negro and Mulatto Children, 1821-1825, 1828. [Images] Arranged chronologically by date register was filed. Register of children who were born into slavery. Information provided for each child includes name and occupation of owner, date of birth, name of child and mother, date return was filed and date petition was filed with the Quarter Session Court.
      • Record of Negro and Mulatto Children and Miscellaneous Slave Records, [ca. 1780-1834]. [Images] Arranged chronologically by date of document. Petitions to keep the services of slaves past age twenty-eight; certificates of claim to runaway slaves; court orders to remove runaway slaves; a bill of sale; an apprentice indenture; and a record of “negro” and “mulatto” children registered.

Bucks County, Prothonotary

      • Register of Slaves, [ca. 1783-1830]. [Images] This volume documents the births of “negro” or “mulatto” children born to slave mothers. Information provided about each child includes name, occupation, and township of residence of the slave owner; name, gender, and either the age or date of birth of the child; and the date registered. This volume also contains records of manumissions, which may include information regarding names of the individuals, dates slaves were set free, physical descriptions, and circumstances regarding emancipation.

Centre County, Prothonotary

      • Birth Returns for Negroes and Mulattoes, 1803-1820. [Images] Unarranged. A record of slaves born in Centre County. Information includes the name of the slave and slave owner; his occupation of slave owner and township. One document records: “One male mulatto child named Peter, born on the twenty second of March one thousand eight hundred and three,” signed by owner James Rankin. The document further states “Chester County, Pennsylvania: Before me Richard Miles, Esquire, Clerk of the Court of General Quarter Session at the Peace of Said County appeared James Rankin of Potters Township, farmer, being duly sworn according to law deposith and saith that on the twenty second day of March one thousand eight hundred and three his negroe wench named Sall was delivered of a male mulatto child he calls by the name of Peter.”

Cumberland County, Board of County Commissioners

      • Returns for Negro and Mulatto Slaves, 1780, 1781, 1788-1811, 1813-1821, 1824-1826, 1833. [Images] Unarranged. Loose returns for negro and mulatto slaves in Cumberland County. Information includes slave owner’s name, township, occupation, and the name and age of the slave. Examples are:
        • “Robert Gibson of Carlisle in the County of Cumberland, Pennsylvania, came before me John Agnew Justice of the Peace for said County and delivered to me the names and age of all his slaves and desires the same be recorded as such: Phillis a mulatto slave for life blind of both eyes aged about 25 or 20 years, Poll a slave for life aged 3 years and one month,” signed by Robert Gibson, carpenter, August 22, 1781.
        • John Smith of Carlisle, Innkeeper, returned two mulatto servants; Humphrey aged two years and six moths, and James, aged two years and three months, as “my property,” signed John Smith, March 31, 1789.
        • The individual returns are preceded by a typed listing of the returns prepared by the court, giving the names of slave owner and slave/indenturer, and the slave’s date of birth. Examples of African Americans are:
          • No. 38; 1780, General William Thompson: James, born 1743; Nell, born 1744; Betty, born 1757; Venus, born 1760; Jacob, born 1774; Perus, born 1774; and Sam, born 1779.
          • No. 2; 1780, Robert Gibson: Phillis, born 1780.
          • No. 43; John Smith, Carlisle: Humphrey, mulatto , born October 1787; James, born January 1788.
      • Clerk of Courts, Slave Returns, 1780, 1789, 1814. [Images] Unarranged. Loose returns for slaves living in Cumberland County. Information includes name of slave owner, county and township, slaveowner’s occupation, and name, sex, and age of slave. An example: William Duncan of Hopewell Township in Cumberland County reports Toma, a female slave for life, aged about 22 years. Signed by William Duncan on October 11, 1780.

Fayette County

      • Birth Records for Negroes and Mulattoes, 1788-1826. [Images] Arranged chronologically by date of document. This series primarily documents the records of births of “negro” or “mulatto” children in Fayette County. In addition to birth returns and certificates of slave registry from other counties, miscellaneous single items are also included. The Birth Returns were prepared after the passage of the 1780 Act for the Gradual Abolition of Slavery in Pennsylvania. Information provided includes the township of residence, date of birth, the names of the mother and the children born, the name and occupation of the individual whose property they were considered, and the name of the notary. These records were filed years after the individual’s birth and numerous individuals could be listed on one return. The Certificates of Slave Registry from other counties document slaves brought into the county from Cumberland, Lancaster, Washington, and Westmoreland counties. Information includes the date registry information was filed with the appropriate courthouse, the names and township of the owner, the sex and age of the slave, and sometimes the slave’s date of birth and mother’s name. The group of miscellaneous single items includes such materials as a request of name alteration (the slave’s registered name was “Lucy,” however her mother called “Luisa”), an extract from the record of slaves registered by Hugh Laughlin, a petition of George Mannypenny for extension of his slave’s servitude because she had a child, and an exemplification indenture, which was a legal office copy of a deed that was recorded to be as valid in a court of law as the original deed. Information provided in such documents includes the names of parties involved and the dates of the documents or court actions.

Lancaster County, Clerk of Courts

      • Returns of Negro and Mulatto Children Born After the Year 1780, 1788-1793. [Images] Unarranged. A record of individual slave returns for Lancaster County. Information includes name of slave owner and his occupation, township, name of slave or servant, sex and color. Some returns may further describe the slave’s color and sex. For example, William Smith, a farmer living in Earl Township owned one mulatto boy named Benn who was born on December 19, 1787. According to this return, Benn actually belonged to William Smith’s daughter, Margaret Smith, who was underage and residing with Smith.
      • Index to Slaves, 1780-1834. [Images] Arranged chronologically by date of return and thereunder alphabetically by slave owner’s name. An index to slave returns in Lancaster County. Information includes slave owner’s name and page number on which original return can be found.

Washington County, Recorder of Deeds

      • Negro Register, 1782-1851 (bulk 1782-1820). [Images] Arranged alphabetically by surname of slave owner. Provides the name of the slave owner, his township, and the name and age of the slave. An example: James Bell of Peters Township, one boy named Flanders, 9 years of age; William Campbell of Hopewell Township, one girl named Hajar, 14 years of age.




Audio Recordings



Business & Industry

Coal Mining Accident Registers, for both the Anthracite and Bituminous Districts, are available for viewing online.




Audio Recordings“It’s a Beautiful Day in Pennsylvania!” The Life and Legacy of Pete Wambach

Our Documentary Heritage is a teaching tool that presents images of historical documents from various time periods. Along with the images are narratives placing them in a regional, state, or national context, as well as transcriptions of each record if appropriate and helpful links for further research.



Libraries, Museums, & Archives Pennsylvania – free to Pennsylvania residents

  • Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1967
  • Pennsylvania, Birth Records, 1906-1911
  • Pennsylvania, Veterans Burial Cards, 1777-1999
  • Pennsylvania, Births, 1852-1854
  • Pennsylvania, Land Warrants and Applications, 1733-1952
  • Pennsylvania, Oyer and Terminer Court Papers, 1757-1787
  • Pennsylvania, Spanish War Compensation, 1898-1934
  • Pennsylvania, Naturalizations, 1794-1908
  • Pennsylvania, War of 1812 Pensions, 1866-1879
  • Pennsylvania, Land Warrants, 1733-1987
  • Pennsylvania, Civil War Border Claims, 1868-1879
  • Pennsylvania, Marriages, 1852-1854
  • Pennsylvania, Deaths, 1852-1854
  • Pennsylvania, Records of Marriages, 1885-1889
  • Pennsylvania, Tax and Exoneration, 1768-1801
  • Pennsylvania, Septennial Census, 1779-1863
  • Pennsylvania, WPA Church Archives, 1937-1940



Photographs, Postcards, Posters

Power Library – our primary repository for digital images

Aerial Photographs (external)

Aerial Photographs and Index of the 1940 Aerial Survey of Pennsylvania, 1937-1942

Polk Center Glass Plate Negative Collection

Postcard Collection

Poster Collection




Eastern State Penitentiary Statistical Books, ca. 1835-1915




Newly-digitized historical glass plate negativesOpens In A New Window documenting daily life of staff and residents of Polk State SchoolOpens In A New Window in Venango County, Pennsylvania.






Military records Wars Veterans #OnGenealogy

Military Records


Military Records (ARIAS)

Revolutionary War Pension Records

Revolutionary War Military Abstract Card File

Militia Officers’ Index Cards, 1775-1800

War of 1812 Soldiers’ Index

Mexican Border Campaign Veterans’ Card File

Civil War Veterans’ Card File, 1861-1866

Register of Civil War Volunteers, 1861-1865

PA National Guard Veterans’ Card File, 1867-1921

Spanish American War Veterans’ Card File of United States Volunteers

World War I Service Medal Application Cards

World War 1 Posters Collection

World War I era posters






Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.