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Pennsylvania: Local History & Genealogy Resource Guide

Compiled by reference specialists at the Library of Congress, this guide identifies key print and online resources for pursuing family history, as well as state, county and municipal historical research, for the state of Pennsylvania.


One of the original 13 colonies, Pennsylvania was established in 1681 by William Penn. Vital to the War for Independence, Pennsylvania's capital city of Philadelphia also served as the first capital of the new nation during the American Revolution. Philadelphia did not hold either honor for long though. While the nation tested other cities before settling the seat of government in Washington, D.C., Pennsylvania moved its business to Lancaster in 1799. Ultimately, Harrisburg became the state's enduring capital in 1812.

This guide offers a selection of resources and strategies for Pennsylvania local history and genealogy research. These include the print and digital collections of the Library of Congress, as well as external repositories and web sites key to finding forebears in the Keystone state.

Anthony Finley, publisher. Pennsylvania 1829. Library of Congress Geography and Map Division.

About Local History & Genealogy Reference Services

The Library of Congress has one of the world's premier collections of U.S. and foreign genealogical and local historical publications, numbering more than 50,000 compiled family histories and over 100,000 U.S. local histories. The Library's genealogy collection began as early as 1815 with the purchase of Thomas Jefferson's library.