Luzerne County, Pennsylvania Genealogy

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Guide to Luzerne County, Pennsylvania ancestry, genealogy and family history, birth records, marriage records, death records, census records, and military records.

County Facts
County seat: Wilkes-Barre
Organized: September 25, 1786
Parent County(s): Northumberland[1]
Neighboring Counties
Wyoming  • Monroe  • Columbia  • Schuylkill  • Lackawanna  • Carbon  • Sullivan
See County Maps
Luzerne County, Pennsylvania Courthouse.jpg
Location Map
Luzerne County PA Map.png
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County Information[edit | edit source]

Description[edit | edit source]

It's county is located in the east-central area of the state.[2]

County Courthouse[edit | edit source]

Luzerne County Courthouse
200 N. River St.
Wilkes-Barre, PA 18711
Phone: 570-825-1500 option 7
Clerk of Courts: Phone: 570–825-1585
Prothonotary: Phone: 570–825-1745
Orphan's Court/Register of Wills: Phone: 570-825-1668
Recorder of Deeds: Phone: 570-825-1641
Luzerne County Website
Register of Wills has birth, death, and burial records 1893-1906, marriage records from 1885, and probate records from 1786
Prothonotary Office has divorce and court records
Recorder of Deeds has land records[3]

Luzerne County, Pennsylvania Record Dates[edit | edit source]

Information for this chart was taken from various sources, often containing conflicting dates. This information should be taken as a guide and should be verified by contacting the county and/or the state government agency.

Known Beginning Dates for Major County Records[4]
Birth* Marriage Death* Court Land Probate Census
1893 1885 1893 1787 1787 1786 1790
*Statewide registration for births and deaths began in 1906. General compliance by 1915.

Record Loss[edit | edit source]

Some Luzerne County probate records were destroyed in the flood following Hurricane Agnes in 1972. According to sources in the county offices, of the county's earliest probate records, the estate files were destroyed but bound books generally survived.

Boundary Changes[edit | edit source]

For animated maps illustrating Pennsylvania county boundary changes, "Rotating Formation Pennsylvania County Boundary Maps" (1673-1878) may be viewed for free at the website.

Populated Places[edit | edit source]

For a complete list of populated places, including small neighborhoods and suburbs, visit HomeTown Locator. The following are the most historically and genealogically relevant populated places in this county:[7]

Unincorporated communities
Census-designated places
Historic communities

History Timeline[edit | edit source]

Resources[edit | edit source]

Bible Records[edit | edit source]

Biographies[edit | edit source]

Business, Commerce, and Occupations[edit | edit source]

Cemeteries[edit | edit source]

Cemeteries of Luzerne County, Pennsylvania online and in print
Tombstone Transcriptions Online
Tombstone Transcriptions in Print (Often more complete)
List of Cemeteries in the County
See Pennsylvania Cemeteries for more information


  • Cemetery records often reveal birth, marriage, death, relationship, military, and religious information.

Additional Cemetery Resources

Census Records[edit | edit source]

Federal Census

Historical populations
Census Pop.
1790 4,892
1800 12,839 162.4%
1810 18,109 41.0%
1820 20,027 10.6%
1830 27,379 36.7%
1840 44,006 60.7%
1850 56,072 27.4%
1860 90,244 60.9%
1870 160,915 78.3%
1880 133,065 −17.3%
1890 201,203 51.2%
1900 257,121 27.8%
1910 343,186 33.5%
1920 390,991 13.9%
1930 445,109 13.8%
1940 441,518 −0.8%
1950 392,241 −11.2%
1960 346,972 −11.5%
1970 342,301 −1.3%
1980 343,079 0.2%
1990 328,149 −4.4%
2000 319,255 −2.7%
2010 320,918 0.5%
Source: "".

Church Records[edit | edit source]

Church records and the information they provide vary significantly depending on the denomination and the record keeper. For members, they may contain: age, date of baptism, christening, or birth; marriage date and maiden name; death/burial date. For general information about Pennsylvania denominations, see Pennsylvania Church Records.

County-wide Database – Multi-denominational

Luzerne County Pennsylvania Churches
Contains the church records of:
  • Jonathan Worrall, J.P./Misc. Licenses, 1890-1915
  • Avoca: Langcliffe Presbyterian Church
  • Forty Fort: Presbyterian Church
  • Freeland: Slovak Lutheran Church; St. John's United Church of Christ; St. Luke's Evangelical Lutheran Church
  • Hazleton: Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church; Trinity Lutheran Church
  • Nanticoke: Primitive Methodist Church Nanticoke
  • Pleasant Valley: United Methodist Church
  • Shickshinny: United Methodist Church
  • Sweet Valley: Pleasant Valley Sunday School
  • West Hazleton: Christ United Church of Christ; St. Paul's United Church of Christ; Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church
  • West Pittston: First United Methodist Church; First United Presbyterian Church
  • White Haven: St. Paul's Lutheran Church
  • Wilkes-Barre: Central United Methodist Church; First Presbyterian Church; Holy Resurrection Russian Orthodox Cathedral; St. Stephen's Episcopal Church
  • Wyoming: Presbyterian Church

African Methodist Episcopal
The African Methodist Episcopal and the African Methodist Episcopaln Zion congregations were established in Wilkes-Barre in 1842.

The first Baptist services were held in Wilkes-Barre in 1842. The Kingston congregation was eventually absorbed in the Wilkes-Barre and Pittston churches. The Centennial Baptist was organized in 1874.

The Northeast Pennsylvania Genealogical Society, Inc. located in Wilkes-Barré, Luzerne County, in partnership with the Diocese of Scranton, has digitized the Sacramental & Burial records of all Catholic churches within the Diocese eleven county area, including Luzerne County. The digitized parish records can be viewed at NEPGS in Wilkes-Barré. The oldest Catholic church in Luzerne County is Saint Mary of the Immaculate Conception, Wilkes-Barre.

The first Episcopalian services were held in 1814 in Wilkes-Barre. The church was chartered in 1817, as St. Stephen's Church. In 1869, St. Clement's was established.

Greek Orthodox
The Greek community purchased the Lutheran Church on 32 East Ross Street in Wilkes-Barre on May 29, 1924.

Lutheran congregations were primarily German until 1857. St Pauls and St. Johns were the early congregations.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Ward and Branch Records of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

  • Nanticoke
  • Plymouth

Methodist Episcopal
Methodism was first preached by Anning Owen in 1788 in Luzerne County. Congregations were in Wilkes-Barre, Hanover, Newport, and the Plains. The Methodists purchased the old building on the square in Wilkes-Barre from the Presbyterians in 1831. This church was called the First Methodist Episcopal. A new building was completed in 1847. The Ross Street Methodist Episcopal was formed and built in 1855. Lists of leading members are found in Munsell's history.[8]

The Moravians were in the area very early, before 1763. The outbreak of the French War forced the missionaries from the county.[9]

The Presbyterian congregation was first served by Jacob Johnson from Groton, Connecticut in 1773. He helped begin the construction of the First Presbyterian Church in Wilkes Barre. It was finally completed in 1812 and was called "The Old Ship Zion". Other Connecticut ministers who served were Jabez Chadwick and James W. Woodworth. The congregation was partially Congregationalist until about 1829 when it became fully Presbyterian. Other early congregations were found in Nanicoke, Pittston and Ashley. Some lists of members are found in the Munsell history of Luzerne County.[10]

Hazleton Presbyterian Church

Presbyterian Church, Conyngham

Snowden Memorial Presbyterian Church, Larksville

List of Churches and Church Parishes

Court Records[edit | edit source]

For information about records kept in the Orphan's court, Prothonotary Court, Court of Common Pleas, and other courts in counties of Pennsylvania, visit the Pennsylvania Court Records Wiki page.

Directories[edit | edit source]

Emigration and Immigration[edit | edit source]

For online resources, passenger lists, and specific groups coming to Pennsylvania, see Pennsylvania Emigration and Immigration.

Ethnic, Political, and Religious Groups[edit | edit source]

For groups that came, see People section of the Pennsylvania Emigration page.

Funeral Homes[edit | edit source]

Genealogies[edit | edit source]

Guardianship[edit | edit source]

The Orphan's Court ensures the best interests of those not capable of handling their own affairs: minors, incapacitated persons, decedents' estates, and more.[12]

Land and Property Records[edit | edit source]

Land and property records can place an ancestor in a specific location and reveal family relationships. Records include: deeds, abstracts, indexes, mortgages, leases, grants, sheriff sales, land patents, maps and more. For more information, see Pennsylvania Land and Property.

Land records in Luzerne County began in 1786. These records are filed with the Recorder of Deeds office in Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania.

Online Land Indexes and Records

  • 1780-1907 Deeds, 1787-1901; Indexes to Deeds, 1780-1907 FHL film 959165 (first of 222 films) The earlier indexes for what would become Luzerne County are for the most part in Northumberland County.
  • 1788-1924 Mortgage Indexes. FHL film 955110 (first of 23 films) - images only; click on the camera icon to view images
  • 1968–present Images are available online using the Landex system. There is a fee to view the images.
Media:Luzerne county pennsylvania townships.pngLuzerne county pennsylvania townships.png
About this image

Local Histories[edit | edit source]

Maps and Gazetteers[edit | edit source]

Columbia CountySullivan CountyWyoming CountyLackawanna CountyMonroe CountyCarbon CountySchuylkill CountyPA LUZERNE.PNG
Click a neighboring county
for more resources

Migration[edit | edit source]

Military Records[edit | edit source]

Civil War

World War II

Naturalization and Citizenship[edit | edit source]

Naturalization records can contain information about immigration and nativity. Prior to 1906, it is rare to find the town of origin in naturalization records. For more information, see Pennsylvania Naturalization

Online Naturalization Indexes and Records

Newspapers[edit | edit source]

Newspapers may contain obituaries, births, marriages, deaths, anniversaries, family gatherings, family travel, achievements, business notices, engagement information, and probate court proceedings. Newspapers are often found in local or university libraries, historical or genealogical societies, or state archives in the area where the newspaper was published. See Pennsylvania Newspapers for more information.

Newspapers of Luzerne County

Newspaper holdings can also be viewed digitally without a subscription at the Library; please bring a laptop, tablet, or smartphone to view, as we do not have public computer terminals at this time. Some of the titles held include the Wilkes-Barre Record, Wilkes-Barre Times Leader, Luzerne Union, Pittston Gazette, Hazleton Sentinel, Hazleton Plain Speaker, Plymouth Weekly Star, Shickshinny Mountain Echo, and Luzerne Democrat.

Online Newspapers

To learn if there are newspapers online for a specific town or city in Pennsylvania, see and search for the town or the name of a newspaper.

Online Newspaper Extracts

Obituaries[edit | edit source]

Obituaries are generally found in local newspapers where the person died or where family members lived. Local libraries or societies may have indexes or other sources.

Online Obituary Extracts

Other Records[edit | edit source]

Periodicals[edit | edit source]

Probate Records[edit | edit source]

Probate matters in Luzerne County are handled by the Orphans' Court and start when the county was created.

In addition to wills and administrations, the Orphans' Court also handles: audits of accounts of executors, administrators, trustees, and guardians; distribution of estates; appointments of guardians; adoptions; appeals from the Register of Wills; inheritance tax appeals, and various petitions and motions.

Some Luzerne County probate records were destroyed in the flood following Hurricane Agnes in 1972. According to sources in the county offices, of the county's earliest probate records, the estate files were destroyed but bound books generally survived.

Online Probate Indexes and Records

School Records[edit | edit source]

Social Security Records[edit | edit source]

Tax Records[edit | edit source]

Vital Records[edit | edit source]

Vital records are handled by the County Orphans' Court. Between the years 1852-1855 Pennsylvania made a failed attempt to record birth, marriage and death events at the county level. County marriage records were kept in earnest in 1885. Births and deaths, at the county level, were begun in 1893 and kept through 1905. For the most complete set of records, contact the County Orphans' Court.

Birth[edit | edit source]

Early births 1893–1905 are located at the County Orphans' Court. For more information, see Pennsylvania Vital Records.

Marriage[edit | edit source]

Pennsylvania marriages were created by county officals. Contact Luzerne County Courthouse.

Death[edit | edit source]

Early deaths 1893–1905 are located at the County Orphans' Court. For indexes and records, 1906 and later, see Pennsylvania Vital Records.

Divorce[edit | edit source]

Divorce records are available through the office of the Prothonotary, Luzerne County Courthouse.

Research Facilities[edit | edit source]

Archives[edit | edit source]

Listed below are archives in Luzerne County. For state-wide archival repositories, see Pennsylvania Archives and Libraries.

National Archives at Philadelphia
14700 Townsend Road
Philadelphia, PA 19154-1096
Phone: 215-305-2044
Fax: 215-305-2052

Family History Centers[edit | edit source]

Family History Center and Affiliate Library Locator map - search for local Family History Centers or Affiliate Libraries

  • Family History Centers provide one-on-one assistance, free access to center-only databases, and to premium genealogical websites.
  • FamilySearch Affiliate Libraries have access to most center-only databases, but may not always have full services normally provided by a family history center.

Local Centers and Affiliate Libraries

Libraries[edit | edit source]

Listed below are libraries in Luzerne County. For state-wide library facilities, see Pennsylvania Archives and Libraries.

Osterhout Free Library
71 South Franklin Street
Wilkes-Barre, PA 18701
Phone: 570-823-0156
Collection includes local newspapers, city directories, newspapers clippings file, a local history collection, and county census records for Luzerne and some neighboring counties. The library will do limited research for a fee.

Museums[edit | edit source]

Societies[edit | edit source]

Listed below are societies in Luzerne County. For state-wide genealogical societies, see Pennsylvania Societies.

Luzerne County Historical Society
49 South Franklin Street
Wilkes-Barré, PA 18701
Phone: 570–823–6244

Northeast Pennsylvania Genealogical Society, Inc. (NEPGS)
57 North Franklin Street
Wilkes-Barré, PA 18701
Phone: 570-829-1765

Websites[edit | edit source]

Research Guides[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), Pennsylvania.At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 D27e 2002.
  2.,_Pennsylvania accessed 2/12/2017
  3. The Handybook for Genealogists : United States of America, 10th ed., (Draper, UT: Everton Publishers, 2002) Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, p.591
  4. Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), Pennsylvania.At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 D27e 2002.
  5. Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), Pennsylvania.At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 D27e 2002.
  6. Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), Pennsylvania.At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 D27e 2002.
  7. Wikipedia contributors, "Luzerne County, Pennsylvania," in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia,, accessed 26 January 2020.
  8. W.W. Munsell, History of Luzerne, Lackawanna and Wyoming Counties, Pa. (New York: Munsell, 1880). Online at: Hathitrust, Internet Archive, Google Books.
  9. W.W. Munsell, History of Luzerne, Lackawanna and Wyoming Counties, Pa. (New York: Munsell, 1880). Online at: Hathitrust, Internet Archive, Google Books.
  10. W.W. Munsell, History of Luzerne, Lackawanna and Wyoming Counties, Pa. (New York: Munsell, 1880). Online at: Hathitrust, Internet Archive, Google Books.
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 11.4 Genealogical Society of Utah, Parish and Vital Records List (July 1998). Microfiche. Digital version at
  12. The Philadelphia Courts at Common Pleas accessed 10 July 2012