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Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania Genealogy

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Guide to Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania ancestry, family history and genealogy in courthouse sources including birth records, marriage records, death records, census records, wills, deeds and land records, Civil War records, Revolutionary War records, family histories, cemeteries, churches, tax records, newspapers, and obituaries.

This article is about a county in Pennsylvania. For the city, see Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.


Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania
Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Philadelphia County
Location in the state of Pennsylvania
Map of the U.S. highlighting Pennsylvania
Location of Pennsylvania in the U.S.
Founded March 10, 1682
County Seat Philadelphia
Philadelphia City Hall, Pennsylvania.jpg
Address Philadelphia City Hall
Broad and Market Streets
Philadelphia, PA 19107
Philadelphia County Website
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Philadelphia County Pennsylvania Historical Facts[edit | edit source]

Known Beginning Dates for Major County Records[1]
Birth* Marriage Death* Court Land Probate Census
bef 1906 1682 bef 1906 1874 1684 1682 1790
Statewide registration for births and deaths began in 1906. General compliance by 1915.

Parent Counties: Formed as an original county 10 March 1682. [2]

County Seat: Philadelphia

Neighboring Counties: Philadelphia County residents may also have records in:[3]

Description[edit | edit source]

It's county seat is Philadelphia and was founded March 10, 1682. It is located in the Southeastern tip of the state.[4]

Boundary Changes[edit | edit source]

  • 14 October 1751: Berks County set off.
  • 10 September 1784: Montgomery County set off.

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

Records Loss[edit | edit source]

There is no known history of courthouse disasters in this county.

Bible Records[edit | edit source]

Biographies[edit | edit source]

Cemeteries[edit | edit source]

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

Tombstone Transcriptions Online Tombstone Transcriptions in Print List of Cemeteries in the county Family History Library
HomeTownLocator WorldCat BillionGraves
PAGenWeb Archives Linkpendium
Tombstone Photos PAGravestones
PAGenWeb Epodunk
Pennsylvania Genealogy Access Genealogy
BillionGraves (name) Interment
See Pennsylvania Cemeteries for more information.

Additional Cemetery Resources

Census[edit | edit source]

For tips on accessing Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania Genealogy Federal (or United States) census records online, see: Pennsylvania Census.

There are no county or state census records available for Pennsylvania. County and city tax records can be used as a substitute when census records are not available.

  • 1671 Transcription and Index

Church Records[edit | edit source]

Finding Church Records at Other Repositories

Additional church records can sometimes be found using search phrases such as Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania Genealogy Church Records  in online catalogs like:

County-wide Database - Multi-denominational[edit | edit source]
Philadelphia County Pennsylvania Churches
Contains records of:
  • Court of Quarter Sessions and Common Pleas
  • Chester: Trinity Protestant Episcopal Church
  • Frankford: St. Mark's Episcopal Church
  • Franklinville: Christ Episcopal Church
  • Germantown: St. John the Baptist Church
  • Hestonville: St. James Church
  • Lower Dublin: All Saints Church; All Saints Episcopal Church; Lower Dublin Baptist Church
  • Manoa: Epworth United Methodist Church
  • Perkasie: Heidelberg Reformed Church
  • Philadelphia: See Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Church Records for hundreds of additional church records included in this database
  • Roxborough: Roxborough Baptist Church; St. Alban Church
  • Torresdale: All Saints Episcopal Church
  • West Whiteland: Church of the Atonement
  • 1644-1780 Humphrey, John T. Pennsylvania Births, Philadelphia County, 1644-1780. 2 vols. Washington, D.C.: Humphrey Publications, 1994-1995. FHL Book 974.811 K2hj.
Contains records of Gloria Dei, Old Swedes, or Wicaco Church (established 1642); Philadelphia Friends Monthly Meeting (est. 1682); Christ Church (est. 1695); First Presbyterian Church (est. 1698); Second Presbyterian Church (est. 1743); Pennypack Baptist Church in Lower Dublin Township (est. 1688); First Moravian Church (est. 1742); St. Michael's (est. 1728) and Zion (est. 1766) Lutheran Church, Philadelphia; First Reformed Church, Philadelphia (est. 1727); St. Michael's Lutheran Church in Germantown (est. 1738); German Reformed Church in Germantown (est. 1727); St. Joseph's Catholic Church (est. 1733); Trinity Episcopal Church in Oxford Township (est. 1698); First Baptist Church in Philadelphia (est. 1762); Friends Monthly Meeting, Pine and Orange Streets (records from 1730s); Scots Presbyterian Church (est. 1767); Personal register of Rev. Blackwell (records from 1750s); Northern District Monthly Meeting at 6th and Noble Sts. (records from 1750s); Southern District Monthly Meeting (records from 1730s); St. Paul's Protestant Episcopal Church (est. 1760); St. George's Methodist Episcopal Church (est. 1769).
Churches listed in the 1840, 1850 and 1856 M'Elroy's Philadelphia City Directory
Contains Records of:
  • 18th Street Methodist Episcopal Church
  • All Saints (Protestant) Episcopal Church
  • Arch Street Presbyterian Church
  • Broad Street M.E. Church
  • Christ Church
  • German Reformed Chuch
  • First Reformed Church of Philadelphia
  • First Baptism Church
  • First, Second and Third Presbyterian Church
  • Immaculate Conception Church
  • Logan Baptis Church Directory
  • Moravian Church
  • Old St. Paul's P.E. Church
  • Pennepack Baptist Church
  • Philadelphia Monthly Meeting
  • Reformed Presbyterian Church
  • Salem Reformed Church
  • Sarah D. Cooper M.E. Church
  • St. Anne's Roman Catholic Church
  • St. Augustine Roman Catholic Church
  • St. Edward the Confessor Roman Catholic Church
  • St. James of Kingssesing (Episcopal)
  • St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Church
  • St. Mary's Catholic Church
  • St. Michael Roman Catholic Church
  • St. Paul's Methodist Episcopal Church
  • Swede's Church
  • Trinity (Episcopal) Church, Oxford

Ward and Branch Records of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints[edit | edit source]
  • Philadelphia
Lutheran[edit | edit source]

St. Michael's Evangelical Lutheran Church, Germantown

  • Ziegenfuss, S.A. A Brief and Succinct History of Saint Michael's Evangelical Lutheran Church of Germantown, Pennsylvania, 1730-1905: One Hundred and Seventy-fifth Anniversary, November 12-14, 1905. Digital version at FamilySearch Books Online - free.

Trinity Lutheran Church, Winchester Park

  • Trinity Lutheran Church, Winchester Park records in Evangelical Lutheran Church in America database at ($).
Presbyterian[edit | edit source]

Market Square Presbyterian Church, Germantown

Wakefield Presbyterian Church, Germantown

Court Records[edit | edit source]

Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania Genealogy court records are housed at the Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania Genealogy Courthouse. For many counties copies of court records may be found at the Pennsylvania State Archives and in the FamilySearch collection. Note that within these collections some films may contain the same records, but have different titles. Other titles are not duplicates. See Finding Court Records at other repositories within this section for links to the online catalogs for these two collections. Films at the Pennsylvania State Archives are not available for inter-library loan. If court records are available FamilySearch films may be available at a local Family History Center. Call ahead for availability.

Salmon compiled an inventory of "The Court Records of Philadelphia County 1683-1800," as an appendix to:

  • Salmon, Marylynn. "The Court Records of Philadelphia, Bucks, and Berks Counties in Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries," The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, Vol. 107, No. 2 (Apr. 1983):249-292. Digital version at The Historical Society of Pennsylvania website - free.
Court of Common Pleas[edit | edit source]

The Courts of Common Pleas are the trial courts of Pennsylvania. Major civil and criminal cases are heard in these courts. Judges also decide cases involving adoption, divorce, child custody, abuse, juvenile delinquency, estates, guardianships, charitable organizations and many other matters. The Common Pleas courts are organized into 60 judicial districts. Philadelphia County has its own judicial district. Judges of the Common Pleas courts are elected to 10-year terms. A president judge and a court administrator serve in each judicial district.[7]

Clerk of the Courts[edit | edit source]

The Clerk of Courts prepares and maintains the records for the Criminal Division of the Court of Common Pleas. The Clerk signs and affixes the Seal of the Courts to all writs and processes, administers oaths and affirmations, and assumes custody of the seal and records of the Courts. The Clerk certifies and distributes orders of the Court. The Clerk also certifies and prepares bills of costs for the defendants and utilizes the computerized financial management system to disburse fines, costs and restitution.[8] For the Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania Genealogy Clerk of Courts address see the Courthouse section on this page.

Prothonotary[edit | edit source]

The office of the Prothonotary is the custodian of all civil matters in the county. This includes naturalization, immigration, equity actions, judgements, federal and local tax liens, city liens, family court, arbitrations, license suspension appeals, appeals to higher court, commercial code filings, applications for passports and divorce proceedings. See the Courthouse section on this page for the Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania Genealogy Prothonotary office information.

Office of the Prothonotary
First Judicial District of Pennsylvania
City Hall, Room 284
Philadelphia, PA 19107
Phone: 215-686-6652

Orphan's Court (see Vital Records)[edit | edit source]

See Vital Records
The Orphans' Court is responsible for a wide range of matters. The name of the Court is derived from the more general definition of "orphan," that being a person or thing that is without protective affiliation or sponsorship. This would include those not capable of handling their own affairs, minors, incapacitated persons, decedents estates, nonprofit corporations and trusts. It is the role of the Court to ensure that the best interests of the person or entity are not compromised.

It is believed the name of this court was borrowed from the Court of Orphans of the city of London, England which had the care and guardianship of children of deceased citizens, in their minority.[9]

For Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania Genealogy Orphans' Court contact information see the Courthouse section on this page.

Finding Court Records at Other Repositories

Additional court records can sometimes be found using search phrases such as Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania Genealogy Court Records in online catalogs like:

Directories[edit | edit source]

  • Fold3 ($) has Philadelphia City Directories 1785, 1791, 1793-1922 (7 yrs. missing) available online.
  • City Directories by Year courtesy USGenWeb Archives 1825, 1830, 1833, 1835-1850, 1856, 1859-1861, 1863, 1867, 1868, 1880, 1882, 1885, 1888, 1890, 1895, 1897, 1900-1910, 1921, 1935, 1936.
  • Don's List contains 1785, 1791, 1793, 1796, 1797, 1799-1801, 1803-1809, 1811, 1813-1814, 1816, 1818-1819, 1822-1823, 1828, 1830, 1833-1835, 1837, 1839-1867, 1895 Philadelphia directories.

Emigration and Immigration[edit | edit source]

For information about emigration into Pennsylvania, see the Pennsylvania Emigration and Immigration page.

Ethnic Groups[edit | edit source]

Germans[edit | edit source]

Funeral Homes[edit | edit source]

Funeral records issued by a funeral home include financial records (cost of casket, dressings, etc.), funeral cards given out at the time of the funeral, etc. These records usually give the name of the deceased, when and where buried, if shipped out to another funeral home, purchaser of cemetery plot, etc. Funeral home records from Philadelphia include:

  1. David H. Bowen and Son, Undertakers (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania). Funeral Records, 1845-1899

Gazetteers[edit | edit source]

Genealogy[edit | edit source]

History[edit | edit source]

1633-1643: (-1647?) Dutch build a blockhouse (single log cabin fort) "at the Schuylkill" River (now Philadelphia). It was abandoned about 1643.[10] [11] See the New Sweden and the New Netherland Wiki article for details.

1641: Swedes and Finns spreading north from Fort Christina (present-day Wilmington, Delaware) first settle in Finland (Chamassungh), now Trainer, Pennsylvania[12] [13] [14] and Upland (Meckopenacka), now Chester, Pennsylvania. [15] [16] [17] The New Sweden Colony continues to expand northward with new settlements as far as Philadelphia in the following years.

1642: The English build a blockhouse on Province Island (now Philadelphia airport) but are soon removed by the Dutch, probably with help from the Swedish.[18] [19] [20]

1648-1651: The Dutch built Fort Beaversrede (now Philadelphia) inland from the Delaware River to be the first contact for Indian fur traders coming down the Schuylkill River.[21] [22] [23] [24] The Swedes respond by building a blockhouse between the Schuylkill and the Dutch fort in order to obscure the view of the fort from the river.[25] [26]

1651-1655: The New Netherland Colony builds Fort Casimir[27] [28] [29] (now New Castle, Delaware), settle Sandhook,[30] [31] [32] and abandon Fort Beversrede in 1651. In 1654 New Sweden captures Fort Casimir from the Dutch without a fight and rename it Fort Trinty (Trefaldighets).[33] In 1655 New Netherland returns with a large army and all of New Sweden in presend-day Pennsylvania, Delaware, and New Jersey submits to Dutch rule.[34]

1664: As part of the Second Anglo-Dutch War New Netherland including southeast Pennsylvania is surrendered to the English.[35]

1673-1674: A new war breaks out and the Dutch send a large armada to retake New Netherland for a few months. But as the war ends the colony is ceded to England for the last time.[36]

1680s: William Penn founded the English colony of Pennsylvania after receiving a grant in 1681 from the king of England. His colony offered religious freedom, liberal government, and inexpensive land. Quakers established the city of Philadelphia.

November 1682: William Penn selected the name Philadelphia which means Brotherly Love.

1700-1754: Welsh, German, and Scotch-Irish groups arrived.

Much of Philadelphia County's functions to exist with Act of Consolidation, 1854. Further consolidations took place in 1867, 1895, 1937, 1951, 1963 and finally 1965.

Published Histories[edit | edit source]

Land and Property[edit | edit source]

Land records in Philadelphia County began in 1682. These records are filed with the Philadelphia City Archives office in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Land and property records can place an ancestor in a particular location, provide economic information, and reveal family relationships. Land records include: deeds, abstracts, indexes, mortgages, leases, grants, sheriff sales, land patents, and maps. Property records include liens as well as livestock brands and estray records.

The following are examples of available resources:

Online Land Records

  • Online indexes are available through the City Archives for a fee.
  • 1734 "Landholders of Philadelphia County, 1734," Publications of the Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania, Vol. 1 (Jul. 1897):166-184. For free online access, see WeRelate.
  • Philadelphia Deed Book Indices

Online Land Record Abstracts

Philadelphia in 1684
1706-1707 Abstracts of Early Deeds Philadelphia (many now Montgomery County)
1733-1866 Warrantees of Land
Land Sales of October 14, 1880

Land Records on Microfilm

Additional Resources

Note that the "Maps" section below also includes maps related to land ownership.

Media:Philadelphia county pennsylvania townships.pngPhiladelphia county pennsylvania townships.png
About this image
Click the image to view an enlarged version

See Pennsylvania Land and Property for more information about using land records, especially about original land warrants, surveys, and patents filed at the state land office.

Additional resources can sometimes be found using search phrases such as Philadelphia County Pennsylvania Land in online catalogs such as:

Maps[edit | edit source]

Philadelphia County

Migration[edit | edit source]

The migration routes used by early European settlers to and from Philadelphia County included:[37]

Military[edit | edit source]

Revolutionary War[edit | edit source]

Local men served in the Philadelphia County Militia. A guide at the Pennsylvania State Archives website identifies townships where specific companies recruited soldiers, see Revolutionary War Militia Battalions and Companies, Arranged by County.

Philadelphia County men also served in the 2nd Pennsylvania Regiment,[38] and the 9th Pennsylvania Regiment.[39]

Civil War[edit | edit source]

Regiments. Service men in Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania Genealogy served in various regiments. Men often joined a company (within a regiment) that originated in their county. Listed below are companies that were specifically formed in Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania Genealogy:

- 1st Regiment, New York Veteran Cavalry, Company C
- 71st Regiment, New York Infantry, Company G

World War I

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. See Pennsylvania Naturalization for more information about the types of records and availability.

Naturalizations granted at the county level were kept by the office of the Prothonotary. Naturalizations could also be granted on the Federal Court level.

Online Naturalization indexes and Records

Original Naturalization Records on Microfilm

  • 1728–1775 Immigration Lists, Oaths of Allegiance in Philadelphia, Books A–G FHL Film 20446 Philadelphia County (Pennsylvania). Recorder of Deeds.
  • 1743 Extract aus der Registratur der Supreem Court zu Philadelphia FHL Film 20361 Item 9 Pennsylvania. Supreme Court (Philadelphia County). Text in German and English.
  • 1777–1790 Oaths of Allegiance FHL Film 1759094 Item 2 Pennsylvania. General Assembly. Predominantly loyalty oaths rather than naturalization papers.
  • 1795–1851 Naturalization Register FHL Film 964579 Item 2 Pennsylvania. Court of Common Please (Philadelphia County).
  • 1795–1931 Naturalization Petitions, and Declarations, 1906–1931 FHL Collection United States. District Court (Pennsylvania: Eastern District). Index 1795–1928. Also available online, access through catalog listing. Note missing petitions.
  • 1802–1837 Index to Naturalization and Declaration Reports [Philadelphia, Pennsylvania] FHL Film 964579 Item 1 Microfilm of original records at the Philadelphia City Archives.
  • 1802–1932 Declarations of Intentions FHL Film 964555 (first of 52 films) Pennsylvania. Court of Quarter Sessions (Philadelphia County), includes index 1810–1887. Records not available 1907–1912.
  • 1818–1875 Declarations of Intention of Naturalization FHL Films 964575–964578 Pennsylvania. District Court (Philadelphia County).
  • 1881–1930 Naturalization Index for Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania FHL Film 1752877 (first of 16 films) Includes petitions and declarations filed in the Circuit Court (Pennsylvania: Eastern District).
  • 1916–1930 Index to Declarations of Intentions and Petitions for Naturalization, Petitions for Naturalization, 1914 FHL Films 1428152–1428154 Pennsylvania. Court of Quarter Sessions (Philadelphia County).

Finding Naturalization Indexes at Other Repositories

Additional naturalization indexes can sometimes be found using search phrases such as Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania Genealogy naturalization in online catalogs like:

Newspapers[edit | edit source]

Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania Genealogy newspapers may contain genealogical value including obituaries, births, marriages, deaths, anniversaries, family gatherings, family travel, achievements, business notices, engagement information, and probate court proceedings.

To access newspapers, contact public libraries, historical/genealogical societies, college or university libraries, or state archives in the area where the newspaper was published.

For information on state-wide newspapers see Pennsylvania Newspapers

Newspapers of Philadelphia County

Online Newspapers

Online Newspaper Abstracts

Newspaper Excerpts and Abstracts

  • Edward W. Hocker and I. Pearson Willits, Genealogical Notes from the Incomplete Files of "The Germantown Telegraph" (SLC, Utah, 1973) FHL film 941584 item 2
Obituaries[edit | edit source]

Obituaries are generally found in local newspapers where the person died. However, sometimes an obituary is found in the location from which he or she originated. To find an obituary, see the information under the Newspaper heading

Online Obituary Abstracts

Obituary Extracts and Abstracts

Occupations[edit | edit source]

Indentured Servants[edit | edit source]
  • List of imported servants and transported convicts from Europe. Online at: Immigrant Servants Database. Includes list of imported servants and transported convicts who served labor terms in Colonial York County, Pennsylvania.

Periodicals[edit | edit source]

Poorhouse, Almshouse[edit | edit source]

Probate Records[edit | edit source]

Probate matters in {{{1}}} 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.

Online Probate Indexes

Additional Probate Indexes and Abstracts

Additional probate indexes or abstracts can sometimes be found using search phrases such as Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania Genealogy probate wills in online catalogs like:

  • 1682-1839 "Philadelphia Wills," Publications of the Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania, 1682-1692: Vol. 1 (Jul. 1986):45-89; 1692-1697: Vol. 2 (Jun. 1900):7-33; 1697-1700: Vol. 3, No. 1 (Jan. 1906):12-37; 1700-1701: Vol. 3, No. 2 (Jan. 1907):144-152; 1688-1745: Vol. 3, No. 3 (Jun. 1908):161-189, 1701-1702: Vol. 3, No. 3 (Jun. 1908):245-254; 1746-1812: Vol. 5, No. 2 (Mar. 1913):174-240; 1812-1839: Vol. 5, No. 3 (Mar. 1914):271-322. For free online access to Vols. 1, 3, and 5, see WeRelate; see also FHL Book 974.8 B2p. Includes abstracts of Will Books A and B and Administration Book A.
  • 1682-1782 Richard T and Mildred G Williams, Index of Wills & Administration Records, Philadelphia, Pennsylvnia, 1682-1782. (Danboro, Pennsylvania : 1972). Available digitally online in FS catalog.
  • 1682-1819 Philadelphia County Wills, 1682-1819. Historical Society of Pennsylvania, 1900. Digital version at Ancestry ($).
  • 1682-1924 Philadelphia County (Pennsylvania). Register of Wills. Wills, 1682-1916; Indexes to Wills, 1682-1924. FHL Collection
  • 1719-1880 Pennsylvania. Orphans' Court (Philadelphia County). Orphans' Court Records, 1719-1880: Orphans' Court Index, 1719-1938. FHL Collection.

Online Probate Abstracts

Original Probate Records on Microfilm

Repositories[edit | edit source]

Archives[edit | edit source]
  • Philadelphia City Archives, Genealogical Resources, include records of births (1860-1915), marriages (1860-1885), marriage licenses (1885-1915), deaths (1803-1915), deeds (1683-1952), and naturalizations (1793-1930), plus city directories (1785-1930, 1935-1936).
  • The Pennsylvania Archives collection contains county archive records that can be searched onsite. Currently the Archives' staff cannot provide research or make copies of these records. Their collections include Almshouse Registers; Tax records; Birth, Death and Marriage Indexes and Records; Midwife records; African American records; Wills; Deeds; Naturalizations; Coroner's inquests; and Orphan's Court dockets. A list of the Archive's county holdings are on Microfilm or Manuscript form.

Courthouse[edit | edit source]
The offices include:
  • U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania
  • Court-Common Pleas
  • Marriage Bureau
  • Prothonotary Office
  • Philadelphia City Archives
    3101 Market Street
    Philadelphia, PA 19104
    Phone: 215-685-9401
    Fax: 215-685-9409
Genealogical resources at the City Archives of Philadelphia listed below are available for searching by the patrons. The Archives has self-service coin-operated microfilm readers and a reader-printer.
  • BIRTHS: 1 July 1860 - 30 June 1915
  • DEATHS: 1803 - 30 June 1915
  • MARRIAGES: 1 July 1860 - 30 December 1885
  • NATURALIZATIONS: 1793 - 1930
  • CITY DIRECTORIES: 1785-1930, 1935
  • DEEDS: 1683 - 1952
Other records include:
  • Common Pleas Court: Divorce dockets 1851-1875 (docket entries only - papers not in custody of Archives)
  • Guardians of the Poor: Support Bonds (indexed): Apprenticeship indentures (partially indexed)
  • City and County Commissioners: Tax Assessment Registers ca. 1769 - ca. 1820 (varies by ward or district); Street Lists of Voters, 1928-1929, 1934, 1948-ca. 1980.
  • Recorder of Deeds
    City Hall, Suite 111
    Market-Frankford Line
    Philadelphia, PA 19107
    Phone: 215-686-2260
Family History Centers[edit | edit source]

Family history centers provide one-on-one assistance and free access to premium genealogical websites. In addition, many centers have free how-to genealogy classes. See family history center for more information. Search the online FHC directory for a nearby family history center.Family History Centers (FHCs) are branches of the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah, and are located all over the world. Their goal is to provide resources for family history research.

The main FHC for Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania Genealogy is the West Philadelphia Pennsylvania Family History Center. For additional nearby Family History Centers, search online in the FHC directory.See also:

Libraries[edit | edit source]
  • Free Library of Philadelphia has 54 branches within the city. Searching their catalog one finds a number of genealogy, local history, and biographical offerings.
The Mennonite Historians of Eastern Pennsylvania support the John L. Ruth Historical Library and Museum at the Mennonite Heritage Center. Located in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania the records and resources of this treasure also cover the counties of Bucks, Chester, Berks, Lehigh, Northampton, and Philadelphia. The website provides a comprehensive overview of library resources, online cemetery database, manuscript collections, photo collections, archival collections, and more.
Museums[edit | edit source]
The museum has many historical collections and city history lessons.
Societies[edit | edit source]
Collections of the society include information from all Mid-Atlantic States. The Society's digital history project offers several online records and multi-media items.
The Balch Institute for Ethnic Studies merged with the Historical Society of Pennsylvania in January 2002. The Balch Institute gathered a many records about  ethnic and immigrant groups.
The Society which was founded in 1979 is devoted to researching, preserving, and sharing Jewish heritage and genealogy. They publish a quarterly newsletter, "Chronicles". The catalog to the Library is free online, though registration is required.

School Records[edit | edit source]

Includes records of:
Central High School, 1895
Central Manuel Training School, 1905
Episcopal Hospital School of Nursing, 1890-1912
Frankford High School, 1942
Geo Clymer School, graduates, 1948, 1949, 1952
Jefferson Medical College
Kensington High School, Class of 1924
Philadelphia High School for Girls, 1962
West Philadelphia High School, Class of 1929

Taxation[edit | edit source]

  • 1693 Rawle, William Brooke. "The First Tax List for Philadelphia County. A.D. 1693," The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, Vol. 8 (1884):82-105. For free online access, see WeRelate.
  • 1769, 1774, 1779 -Proprietary, Supply, and State Tax Lists of the City and County of Philadelphia: For the Years 1769, 1774 and 1779. (Pennsylvania Archives, Series 3, Vol. 14). Digital versions at Ancestry ($); Google Books - free.
  • 1779-1781 Proprietary, Supply, and State Tax Lists of the City and County of Philadelphia: For the Years 1779, 1780 and 1781. (Pennsylvania Archives, Series 3, Vol. 15). Digital version at Ancestry ($).
  • 1781-1783 Supply, and State Tax Lists of the City and County of Philadelphia: For the Years 1781, 1782 and 1783. (Pennsylvania Archives, Series 3, Vol. 16). Digital version at Ancestry ($).
  • 1798 Pennsylvania, U.S. Direct Tax Lists, 1798 at Ancestry ($).

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. While the records for that time period are available, there were few events recorded. County marriage records were kept in earnest in 1885. Births and deaths, at the county level, were begun in 1893 and kept through 1905. Abstracts and copies of vital records are available for some counties, but most are incomplete. For the most complete set of records, always contact the County Orphans' Court.

See also How to order Pennsylvania Vital Records

Birth[edit | edit source]
  • 1726-1930 Pennsylvania, Births and Christenings, 1709-1950 - free index. Not complete for all years. This index is an electronic index for the years 1726 to 1930. It is not necessarily intended to index any specific set of records. This index is not complete for any particular place or region. This collection may include information previously published in the International Genealogical Index or Vital Records Index collections.

Early births 1893–1905 are located at the County Orphans' Court. See the heading Court Records on this page for contact information.

Indexes for Pennsylvania birth records are available through the Department of of Health for 1906 and 1907. Once an individual is located in the index a non certified Birth certificate can be obtained by writing and sending $3.00 to:

Division of Vital Records
ATTN: Public Records
P.O. Box 1528
New Castle, PA 16103

Marriages[edit | edit source]

Pennsylvania marriages are located at the county level. Contact the Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania Genealogy clerk's office for these records.

Information on how to obtain a copy of the actual marriage record can be found this link.

Additional resources:

  • 1626-2016 - Pennsylvania, United States Marriages at FindMyPast — index $
  • 1677-1950 Pennsylvania Civil Marriages, 1677-1950 at FamilySearch — index and images
  • 1700-1821 Pennsylvania Marriage Records – ($) This database is incomplete for all counties.
  • 1725-1976 Pennsylvania, Marriages, 1709-1940 - free index. Not complete for all years. This index is an electronic database of information. The entries are primarily from the International Genealogical Index (IGI) along with some entries derived from compiled and original records such as: Family Records, Church Records, Civil Registration. It may also include indexes generated by the internet indexing project sponsored by the LDS Church.
  • Pre-1810 Pennsylvania Marriages – ($) This database is incomplete for all counties. Includes 35,000 marriage records from vol. VIII of of the second series of the Pennsylvania Archives.
  • 1752-1804 Early Marriage Papers of Philadelphia County,1752–1804. Family History Library film FHL Collection 20438 item 8.
  • 1808-1895 Marriages in Philadelphia, 1808-1895. FHL Collection 381275-8.
  • 1814-1839 Marriage Register of Philadelphia County, 1814 to 1839. Family History Library film FHL Collection 20438 item 5.
  • 1846-1852 Philadelphia (Pennsylvania). Board of Health. Certificates of Marriages Before John Dennis, Alderman of Philadelphia, 1846-1852. FHL Collection 20447 item 3.
  • 1852-1854 Pennsylvania Marriages – ($) Index with images.
  • 1857-1938 Philadelphia (Pennsylvania). Mayor. Marriage Records, 1857-1938. FHL Collection 974.811 V28k
  • 1860-1885 Philadelphia (Pennsylvania). Board of Health. Marriage Returns, 1860-1885, Filed by Person Performing the Ceremony. FHL Collection film 1764889. These records are returns of marriages arranged quarterly under the name of the person performing the marriage. They include the date of ceremony, the name, age, place of birth, and residence of parties involved; and the groom's occupation and race. The records are the source for:
  • 1860-1885 Philadelphia (Pennsylvania). Board of Health. Marriage Register, 1860-1885. FHL Collection. These films are difficult to read in many places.
  • 1860-1885 Marriages Records are available at the Philadelphia City and County Archives
  • 1880-1908 Pennsylvania. Magistrate's Court (Philadelphia). Record of Marriages, 1880-1908, in Magistrate's Court No. 9. FHL Collection.
  • 1885-1916 Philadelphia County (Pennsylvania). Clerk of the Orphans' Court. Affidavit of Applicant for Marriage License 1885-1915; Index 1885-1916. FHL Collection.
  • 1885-1950 Pennsylvania County Marriage, 1885-1950 Extracted marriage records – free. Most of the records consist of marriage licenses, certificates, applications, docket books, and affidavits. This database is incomplete for all counties. May also contain marriage records earlier than 1885.
  • 1885-1951 Pennsylvania, Philadelphia Marriage Indexes, 1885-1951 - free index with images.
  • 1885-1951 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Marriage Index, 1885-1951 at – ($).
  • 1947-2010 Pennsylvania Obituary and Marriage Collection, 1947-2010 at FamilySearch — index and images
  • Philadelphia County Marriages
Marriage Licenses and Notices
Orphan's Court Marriage Index, 1885-1916
Divorce[edit | edit source]

Divorce records are available through the office of the Prothonotary. The office of the Prothonotary is located in the courthouse building.

Death[edit | edit source]

Early deaths 1893–1905 are located at the County Orphans' Court. See the heading Court Records on this page for contact information.

Indexes for Pennsylvania death records are available through the Department of Health for 1906 through 1962. Once an individual is located in the index a non certified death certificate can be obtained obtained by writing and sending $3.00 to:

Division of Vital Records
ATTN: Public Records
P.O. Box 1528
New Castle, PA 16103

Finding Vital Records at Other Repositories

Additional vital records can sometimes be found using search phrases such as Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania Genealogy Vital Records in online catalogs like:

Philadelphia County Pennsylvania Places[edit | edit source]

Prior to 1854 consolidation:

Philadelphia County Pennsylvania Genealogy Websites[edit | edit source]

Philadelphia County Pennsylvania Genealogy References[edit | edit source]

  1. Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania. Page 588-593 At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 D27e 2002; Alice Eichholz, ed. Ancestry’s Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources, Third ed. (Provo, Utah: Ancestry, 2004), 579-581.
  2. Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), [FHL book 973 D27e 2002].
  3. Wikipedia contributors, "Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania" in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia at,_Pennsylvania.
  4.,_Pennsylvania accessed 2/12/2017
  5. Genealogical Society of Utah, Parish and Vital Records List (July 1998). Microfiche. Digital version at
  6. Genealogical Society of Utah, Parish and Vital Records List (July 1998). Microfiche. Digital version at
  7. The Unified Judicial System of Pennsylvania accessed 10 July 2012.
  8. Unified Judicial System of Pennsylvania, Clerk of Courts in (accessed 25 Aug 2012)
  9. The Philadelphia Courts at accessed 10 July 2012
  10. Amandus Johnson, "Detailed Map of New Sweden 1638-1655" in Amandus Johnson's book The Swedes on the Delaware 1638-1664 (Philadelphia: Swedish Colonial Society, 1915), 392. This blockhouse is mentioned in Johnson's legend, but not displayed on his map, probably because it was replaced by a Swedish fort.
  11. Edmund Bailey O'Callaghan, History of New Netherland, 2nd ed. (New York: D. Appleton and Co., 1855; digitized by Google, 2006), 2: 79. "The Swedes had already destroyed the trading-house, which the former [Dutch] had built at Schuylkill, and built a fort in its place."
  12. "New Sweden" in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia at New_Sweden (accessed 7 November 2008).
  13. Albert Cook Myers, Narratives of Early Pennsylvania, West New Jersey and Delaware, 1630-1707 (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1912; reprint Barnes and Noble, 1959; digitized by Google, 2008), 69, note 3. "Chamassung or Finland, where the Finns dwelt, was on the west side of the Delaware River, between the present Marcus Hook in Pennsylvania, and the mouth of Naaman's Creek just over the circular state line in Delaware."
  14. Memoirs of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, v. 3, (Philadelphia:M'Carty and Davis, 1834; digitized by Google, 2006), 11. "Chamassungh, or Finland. This place was inhabited by Finns, who had strong houses, but no fort. It lies at the distance of two German miles, east of Christina, by water; and, by land, it is distant two long Swedish miles."
  15. Johnson, Detailed Map.
  16. Johnson, Swedish Settlements, 372. "Johann Companius, who was called by the government to go to New Sweden in 1642, was placed on the new budget, with a salary of 10 R.D. a month and seems to have been looked upon as a sort of military preacher. He was stationed at Christina, but shortly after his arrival here he was transferred to Upland, where he settled with his family and conducted the service at New Gothenborg."
  17. Myers, 150. "If now [the land at] Upland, which belongs to the Company, and is large enough for the sowing of twenty or thirty bushels of grain, might be given to the parsonage for Nertunius, together with the small houses there, it would be very well; then he would need no other salary from the Company." and footnote 4, "Now Chester."
  18. Johnson, Detailed Map.
  19. Arthur H. Buffington, "New England and the Western Fur Trade, 1629-1675" Publications of the Colonial Society of Massachusetts 18 (1917): 168 digitized by Google, 2007. "Regardless of the rights of the Dutch and the Swedes, two large tracts of land were purchased in southern New Jersey, and another tract on the future site of Philadelphia. The colony of New Haven extended its jurisdiction over this territory and lent the Company its full support. A settlement was made the same year [1641] at Varkens Kill (Salem, New Jersey), but as it was below the Dutch and Swedish posts and therefore unfavorably situated for the fur trade, a trading post was erected the next year near the mouth of the Schuylkill and above the rival posts. So seriously did this new post interfere with trade that the Dutch, probably with the aid of the Swedes, destroyed the fort and took away the settlers to Manhattan. The settlement at Varkens Kill was not disturbed, but it amounted to little. Some of the settlers perished of disease, some straggled back to New Haven, and a few stayed on, submitting themselves to Swedish rule."
  20. Myers, 100. "There in 1642, on the present Fisher's or Province Island at the south side of mouth of the Schuylkill River, as Dr. Amandus Johnson makes clear in his Swedish Settlements, page 213, the New Englanders built a blockhouse, the first edifice definitely recorded as erected within the present limits of Philadelphia. Both the Dutch and the Swedes vainly protested against this competition, and finally the Dutch descended upon the place, burned the blockhouse and adjacent buildings, and carried the settlers to New Amsterdam."
  21. Johnson, Detailed Map.
  22. Philip S. Klein, and Ari Hoogenboom, "A History of Pennsylvania, 2nd ed." (University Park, Penn.: Penn State Press, 1980; digitized by Google at, 11. "Stuyvesant in the spring of 1648 sent an expedition to build a fort on the Schuylkill further inland than any of the Swedish posts. This he called Fort Beversreede — 'beaver road' — for its purpose was to be the first point of contact with the Minqua traders. But before the summer had passed, Printz built a Swedish fort, 'right in front of our Fort Beversreede,' wrote an indignant Dutchman. This building stood between the water's edge and the Dutch blockhouse, its back wall standing just twelve feet from the palisade gate of Fort Beversreede. The Indians thus found Swedes at the anchoring place, and could not even see the Dutch post from the water."
  23. Peter Stebbins Craig, "Chronology of Colonial Swedes on the Delaware 1638-1712" in The Swedish Colonial Society [Internet site] at (accessed 10 November 2008). Originally published in Swedish Colonial News, vol. 2, number 5 (Fall 2001). "[1648] Dutch build Fort Beversreede on east side of Schuylkill, but Swedes thwart Dutch attempts to build dwellings in area."
  24. John Thomas Scharf, and Thompson Westcott, History of Philadelphia, 1609-1884, vol. 2 (Philadelphia: L.H. Everets, 1884; digitized by Google, 2006), 1024. "The Dutch Fort Beversrede was built immediately opposite Minquas, or Mingo, or Eagle's Nest Creek, to command the trade in furs (skins) brought that way by the savages."
  25. Johnson, Detailed Map.
  26. Klein, and Hoogenboom."But before the summer had passed, Printz built a Swedish fort, 'right in front of our Fort Beversreede,' wrote an indignant Dutchman. This building stood between the water's edge and the Dutch blockhouse, its back wall standing just twelve feet from the palisade gate of Fort Beversreede. The Indians thus found Swedes at the anchoring place, and could not even see the Dutch post from the water."
  27. Johnson, Detailed Map.
  28. "Fort Casimir" in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia at (accessed 7 November 2008).
  29. Klein and Hoogenboom.
  30. Johnson, Detailed Map.
  31. Craig. "1651 - Dutch build Fort Casimir at Sand Hook (New Castle) and abandon Fort Bevers-reede in Schuylkill."
  32. Johnson, Swedes on the Delaware, 294. "In October, Novermber, and December the new freemen were ordered to clear their lands at various places, for the purpose of planting maize in the coming spring; and several fields at Sandhook, at Fort Christina and up at the [Christina] River were cleared and sewn for the benefit of the company with the grain which Mr. Lord had brought in . . ."
  33. "New Sweden" in Wikipedia.
  34. "New Sweden" in Wikipedia.
  35. "New Netherland" in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia at (accessed 13 December 2008).
  36. "New Netherland" in Wikipedia.
  37. Handybook, 847-61.
  38. John B.B. Trussell and Charles C. Dallas, The Pennsylvania Line; Regimental Organization and Operations, 1776-1783 (Harrisburg, Pa.: Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, 1977). Digital version at Family History Archive.
  39. Wikipedia contributors, "9th Pennsylvania Regiment,", accessed 31 May 2012.