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Exclusive Databases

HSP Encounters Databases

HSP Encounters is a digital resource comprised of an ever-growing number of genealogical and biographical databases. Historical essays incorporated in the system describe each database, as well as providing historical context for the records it contains.

As of today, there are eleven databases available for research. The project is ongoing, with HSP staff identifying new records and materials to digitize and make available online in searchable form.

Access to HSP Encounters is available to all on-site researchers. Remote access is available as a benefit to Friends of HSP.

Access HSP Encounters remotely (if you already have a password): https://encounters.hsp.org/

Request a new password (if you forgot your password or if you never had a password): https://hsp.org/user/login

Click on “request new password” and enter your email address. Go to your inbox and follow the instructions to complete your password update. Email development@hsp.org or call 215-982-2414 if you have any questions.

The following databases can be accessed through HSP Encounters:

Tavern and Liquor License Records (1746-1863)

  • Contains information found in petitions for tavern licenses about individuals who sought or had permission to retail liquor. Almost all of these records concern individuals who sought or had permission to sell liquor in Pennsylvania, from the counties of Philadelphia, Chester, Delaware, Lancaster, Montgomery, Northampton and Cumberland. A handful of petitions are by persons seeking permission to operate a tavern in New Hampshire or New Jersey.

Huguenot Society Applications (Arrivals 1517-1885)

  • Contains information from applications for membership in the Huguenot Society of Pennsylvania. Most of the applicants are from Pennsylvania, but applicants from many other states are also represented. A typical database record contains the name of the applicant, his or her spouse, and the community and state (on occasion, foreign country) where he or she resides. The record also provides the name of the Huguenot ancestor or ancestors from whom the applicant is claiming ancestry, their place of origin, place of settlement, year of immigration, and often one to three of the most common surname lines connecting the applicant to the Huguenot ancestor. 

Manumissions and Indentures (1773-1865)

  • This database contains information taken from selected documents contained in Series IV of the Pennsylvania Abolition Society papers, manumissions, indentures, and other legal papers. The records in Series IV reflect one of the Abolition Society's key early missions: to provide legal assistance to slaves, former slaves, free blacks, free mulattos and others to insure their status was protected, especially as it was affected by the Pennsylvania law for the gradual abolition of slavery (1780).
  • The bulk of the documents abstracted to date are individual indentures. They typically start as pre-printed forms that provide standard legal boilerplate to which are added hand-written specifics that provide the names of the parties, their residences, their roles, the age and race of the person being indentured, the date and term of the indenture, the occupation to be taught, other education to be provided, and compensation to be provided at the indenture’s completion.
  • This database also contains some indenture records from the Orphan Society of Philadelphia records.

Genealogical Scrapbooks & Research Folders (1607-1958)

  • Contains information found in privately published family histories at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. The individuals found in these histories are usually from the colonies and states east of the Mississippi River, and generally span from the 17th through the 19th centuries.

Oliver H. Bair Company Records (1920-1980)

  • Contains information about deceased individuals drawn from funeral home files, which include substantial additional information on the deceased. This usually includes date of birth, date of death, place of death, age at the time of death, cause of death, the address or institution from whence the body was received, place of burial, occupation, spouse, and the names of parents.

Pennsylvania, Revolutionary War Battalions and Militia Index (1775-1783)

  • Contains an index to the muster rolls of the Pennsylvania militia in the War of the Revolution. The records in this database list names, sometimes rank, and a volume and page reference to the source material, which include further rosters, muster rolls, histories, diaries, and other documents listing Pennsylvanian troops.

Philadelphia Home for Infants collection (1873-1924)

  • This collection includes records for the Philadelphia Home for Infants, including annual reports, board minutes, case histories, financial records, scrapbooks, articles, reports, publications relating to child welfare, and a few photographs. 

Philadelphia Job Placement Office collection (1898-1901)

  • The Philadelphia Placement Office register contains the daily entries of a Philadelphia employment agency from 1898 to 1901.
  • The 2,647 entries, listed chronologically over the course of 300 pages, convey a wealth of information about potential employees and employers. A typical entry includes the name, street address, and type of work or type of worker sought by either the employee or employer. Beyond this basic information, entries often provide ages, previous work experiences, family facts, and personal observations written down by the agent of the office.The records also include number of family members, race, place of birth, religious denomination, and, often, an observation on the cause of the family’s poverty.

Philadelphia Public School Records (1828-1914)

  • The Philadelphia Public School records house the names of thousands of students in the school system from 1828 until 1914. These students came from diverse backgrounds, some traveling thousands of miles with their families in the search for new opportunities in Philadelphia and the United States. Within these records, we find much personal information--names, ages, parent occupations, addresses, and often student’s nativity, attendance, and reasons for leaving school, providing a window into the student experience, especially when viewed in light of the growth and struggles of public school system in Philadelphia.

Russian Brotherhood Organization (Claims 1900-1953)

  • Contains information drawn from the records of the Russian Brotherhood Organization of the U.S.A, a non-profit fraternal benefit society established in 1900 in Pennsylvania. Its mission is to provide relief for members distressed by illness, physical injury, or disability, and also to care for the widows and orphans of deceased members from Galicia and Carpathian Russia who settled in the anthracite region of Pennsylvania and to continue to serve second and third generations of these immigrants.
  • Includes biographical information drawn from RBO's death claims, disability benefit claims, claims for cash surrender, and other benefits from 1902 to 1953. Each claim consists of a packet of documents including insurance documents, certificates, related correspondence, and other papers.

The Home Missionary Society collection (1883-1889)

  • Contains one volume of visitation records from the Home Missionary Society of the City of Philadelphia (HMS). The volume contains 4,890 entries from 1883 to 1889 that document visits made to the homes of Philadelphia residents in need of assistance. In each of the cases, it was the woman of the household who was interviewed by the HMS to determine the needs of the family or individual. The HMS provided coal, groceries, cash, and apparel to thousands of people during this six-year period.

HSP Records on Ancestry.com

HSP has partnered with Ancestry.com, the world’s largest online family history resource, to digitize over seven million records from our collection. These collections detail more than 300 years of Pennsylvanians’ life history spanning from 1708-1985. Please note that Friends of HSP only have remote access to records on Ancestry.com that came from HSP's archives. For remote access to all records on Ancestry.com, you must purchase a subscription directly from Ancestry.com.

Friends of HSP can access these records remotely by clicking here (must be logged in to HSP's website).

Request a new password (if you forgot your password or if you never had a password): https://hsp.org/user/login

Click on “request new password” and enter your email address. Go to your inbox and follow the instructions to complete your password update. Email friends@hsp.org or call 215-982-2414 if you have any questions.

Ancestry.com subscribers can access these records by clicking here or searching www.ancestry.com.

The vital record additions, containing information from each county in the state of Pennsylvania, include:

  • Pennsylvania and New Jersey Church and Town Records (1708-1985): The documents in this database contain records from churches, funeral homes, cemeteries, newspapers, historical societies, as well as personal records and other various sources. Click here for a list of collections included in this database.
  • Pennsylvania, Oliver H. Bair Funeral Records Indexes, 1920-1980: These records make up an index to funerals handled by the Oliver H. Bair funeral homes. The majority are cards with the name of the deceased and billing information. However, the cards can contain other details, including names of people being charged for the funeral, addresses, family members and indications of family relationships (niece, widow, son, etc.), place of burial, and dates. Finding a record in the index indicates that a larger packet of information is available at HSP.
  • Pennsylvania, Revolutionary War Battalions and Militia Index, 1775-1783: This database contains an index to Pennsylvania in the War of the Revolution (4 volumes), a series that reprints muster rolls and other documentation found in the Pennsylvania Archives, 2nd series, vols. 10, 11, 13, 14. These books include rosters, muster rolls, histories, diaries, and other documents listing Pennsylvanian troops. The cards in this database list names, sometimes rank, and a volume and page reference to the source volume.
  • Pennsylvania, Card Indexes to Genealogical Scrapbooks and Research Folders: These records are an index to genealogical scrapbooks, published volumes, and research folders in HSP's collection. The cards in this index include minimal information, including titles and sometimes page numbers, but this information points to a scrapbook, research folder, or published volume available at HSP.