Pennsylvania Biography

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Online Resources[edit | edit source]

Biographies in Local Histories[edit | edit source]

  • Biographical information is often found in state, county, and town histories.
  • Towards the end of the 19th century, began publishers soliciting short biographical/family histories from local founding families, offering to publish them in an upcoming local history. This then became an incentive for family members to buy a copy of the book.
  • Families represented were not necessarily prominent. Practically everyone living there, especially in the Midwest, counted as an early settler.
  • These biographies often start with the first member of the family to settle in the area, and detail their descendants at the time of publishing. They may tell where the family moved in from. Children's marriages often are given, with maiden names included.

Finding Biographies[edit | edit source]

  • The county Wiki page lists several county histories. It also lists local libraries, and societies which probably have copies of local histories.
  • Many histories are no longer under copyright and can be found in the following online, digitized book collections. Search with keywords "History" and "the name of your locality" (state, county, or town).
  • The FamilySearch library has extensive collections of these local histories. Many are digitized. Search the FamilySearch Catalog under your locality for the topics "Biography" and "History".

Another great on line source for finding biographies in Pennsylvania are found at the following website:

  • PA-Roots  Bringing our past into the future. These biographies are arranged by county.

The best collections of published biographies of Pennsylvania are at the following websites:

Historical Society of Pennsylvania

The Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania

The Family History Library also has a major collection of published and manuscript biographical material. Other helpful sources include:

Index to Pennsylvania County Histories. This is a 75,000-card index at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh to people of western Pennsylvania. The staff will search for two or three specific names, and there is a fee if photocopies are requested.

Pennsylvania Encyclopedia Biography Field Notes for American Guide Series. Before World War II, the Federal Writer's Project collected typed biographical sketches abstracted from local histories and various biographical encyclopedias. These are at the Bureau of Archives and History and at the Family History Library on 17 Family History Library films beginning with 1015709.

Some representative biographical sources are:

An index to this set is:

Godcharles, Frederic A. and Walter D. Stock. Index to the Encyclopedia of Pennsylvania Biography, volumes I-XXXII. Two volumes in one. Baltimore, Maryland.: Clearfield Company, Inc., 1996. (Family History Library book 974.8 D3e index.) Part one is a reprint of the index to volumes I-XX originally published in New York in 1932 and does not index every name. Part two is an index to most names in volumes XXI-XXXII published by Walter D. Stock in 1996.

  • Pennsylvania Biographical Dictionary: People of All Times and Places Who Have Been Important to the History and Life of the State. Wilmington, Delaware: American Historical Publications, 1989. (Family History Library book 974.8 D3p).

References[edit | edit source]