Newspapers are an important source for vital records, etc., during the period before Pennsylvania began keeping civil vital records.
Pennsylvania's first newspaper was the American Weekly Mercury published in Philadelphia in 1719. Some early editions are available at Google books. (Search "American Weekly Mercury")
Ben Franklin's Pennsylvania Gazette began in 1728. Early editions also available at Google books. (Search "Pennsylvania Gazette")
Pennsylvania presses published German-language newspapers as early as the eighteenth century:
- Stoudt, John Joseph, The German Press in Pennsylvania, The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, Vol. 59, No. 1 (Jan. 1935):76-90. For free online access, see WeRelate.
- Reading Adler, Reading Eagle, 28 May 1868; "About Der Readinger Adler (Reading, Pa.)," Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers.
Resources for Pennsylvania Newspapers
Libraries and Archives
The State Library of Pennsylvania has the largest newspaper collection. An inventory of these is Louis F. Rauco, Pennsylvania Newspapers and Selected Out-of-State Newspapers ([S. l.: s. n.], 1984. FHL book 974.8 B3p and FHL film 1320895 item 16.
The Historical Society of Pennsylvania has a major collection, especially of Philadelphia newspapers (1790-present).
The U.S. Newspaper Directory, 1690-Present is a national directory from the Library of Congress of over 140,000 newspaper titles. The directory provides a list of libraries from around the country that have the newspapers in their collections
Digital Issues Online
- Penn State University Libraries digital collections Pennsylvania Civil War Era Newspaper Collection.
- Pennsylvania digitized newspapers on:Chronicling America Historic American Newspapers.
- NewspaperArchive.com ($) has a large collection of Pennsylvania newspapers online. This database is sometimes free at libraries under the name Access NewspaperArchive.
- First several years of The American Weekly Mercury is available for free online (1719-1723).
- Accessible Archives ($) has The Pennsylvania Gazette (1728-1800).
- Extra! Extra! Read All About It! FREE Historic Newspapers Online: Links to free online collections of historic newspapers published in Pennsylvania.
- 1728-1791 - Hildeburn, Charles R. "An Index to the Obituary Notices published in the Pennsylvania Gazette, from 1728-1791," The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, Vol. 10 (1886):334-349. For free online access, see WeRelate.
Family History Library
The Family History Library has the Pittsburgh Daily Gazette on microfilm (1786-1880) and a few other newspapers. It has several published abstracts and indexes of Pennsylvania newspapers, including:
- Pennsylvania Gazette, 1728 to 1748
- Pennsylvania Chronicle, 1767 to 1774
- Daily Telegraph, 1883 to 1900
- German newspapers published in Philadelphia and Germantown, 1743 to 1800
- Quaker Necrology (59,000 obituaries found in Quaker newspapers of Philadelphia and other cities), 1828 to 1960
An excellent bibliography of Pennsylvania newspapers is Ruth Salisbury, ed., Pennsylvania Newspapers, a Bibliography and Union List (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania Library Association, 1969. FHL book 974.8 A3s.
An inventory for Philadelphia County is Pennsylvania Historical Survey, Division of Community Service Programs, Work Projects Administration, A Checklist of Pennsylvania Newspapers, Philadelphia County (Harrisburg, Pa.; Pennsylvania Historical Commission, 1944; FHL book 974.811 B33 and FHL fiche 6101596.
Valuable newspaper information is in:
- Manning, Barbara. Genealogical Abstracts from Newspapers of the German Reformed Church, 1830-1839. Bowie, Maryland.: Heritage Books, 1992. FHL book974.8 K28m.
- Manning, Barbara. Genealogical Abstracts from Newspapers of the German Reformed Church 1840-1843. Bowie, Maryland.: Heritage Books, Inc., 1995. FHL book 973 K28m.
- Access Pennsylvania Digital Repository managed for the Office of Commonwealth Libraries www.accesspadigital.org/
- USNPL: Pennsylvania - This site provides links to Pennsylvania historical newspapers and current newspaper websites.