PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania—The Historical Society of Pennsylvania, one of the largest and most comprehensive genealogical centers in the nation, and FamilySearch, a nonprofit premier family history and records preservation organization, announced a joint initiative to digitally preserve select collections of the historical society’s vast holdings, starting with compiled family histories online. The project is now underway, and the digitized documents will be freely accesible at FamilySearch.org.
Founded in 1824 in Philadelphia, the Historical Society of Pennsylvania is one of the oldest special collection libraries in the United States. It is home to some 600,000 printed items and more than 21 million historic manuscript and graphic items. Its unparalleled collections encompass more than 350 years of America’s history—from its 17th-century origins to the contributions of its most recent immigrants.
The initiative will digitally preserve and publish online the society’s many genealogies and local histories, family trees, and related family documents and manuscripts that contribute to the understanding of many family histories. Collections of particular interest might be those of Pennsylvania’s founding families, including Penn and others.
Some of the society’s holdings date back before the Revolutionary War. The rare histories include records such as dairies, correspondence, photographs, genealogies, sources about daily lives in the history of the United States, and much more.
Dr. Page Talbott, the President and CEO of the Historical Society, said that it is a “delight to work with FamilySearch. The primary goal of the project is to broaden the audience of the Society’s records and engage in an unprecedented effort to digitize and preserve important data. Users all over the world will have access to these records, and the partnership with FamilySearch will continue to benefit interested individuals well into the future.” Dr. Talbott said that digitization of the society’s compiled family histories has already begun.
FamilySearch Book Scanning Partnership Manager, Dennis Meldrum, said, “The Historical Society of Pennsylvania is a marvelous facility, and they have an awesome collection from a period and area in U.S. history that is highly sought after by researchers. The records tell the important stories of families and provide a fantastic opportunity for FamilySearch users to examine unique historical documents that would not otherwise be readily accessible to them.”
Volunteer FamilySearch representatives Jerrol and Margaret Syme are operating the onsite scanning center. The Symes are from Mapleton, Utah, a small town about 60 miles south of Salt Lake City, Utah. Jerrol Syme , a retired CEO of a medical institution, and his wife, Margaret, are excited about their assignment. They miss their children and grandchildren, but are excited to help others find success in their family history work by being able to conveniently access the society’s rich collections online.
About the Historical Society of Pennsylvania
The Historical Society of Pennsylvania (HSP) is a provider of education and information for the people of Philadelphia and beyond. With over 21 million documents – including manuscripts, graphics, and ephemera – HSP serves more than 4,000 on-site researchers annually and millions more around the globe who use its resources online at hsp.org. HSP offers extensive online resources including digital collections, curricular materials, and hosts educator workshops, public programs and lectures throughout the year. To offer this array of programming and services, HSP relies on both public and private funding. Learn more about how to support our mission of inspiring individuals to create a better future through historical understanding at hsp.org
HSP is also a chief center for the documentation and study of ethnic communities and immigrant experiences in the 20th-century, and one of the largest family history libraries in the nation. HSP’s collections center on eastern Pennsylvania, southern New Jersey, and parts of Delaware and Maryland, but they also include a wealth of materials on the eastern U.S., the founding of this country, and the diversity of ethnic and immigrant experiences across the nation, thanks to the addition of the holdings of the Balch Institute for Ethnic Studies in 2002.
FamilySearch International is the largest genealogy organization in the world. Millions of people use FamilySearch records, resources, and services to learn more about their family history. To help in this great pursuit, FamilySearch has been actively gathering, preserving, and sharing genealogical records worldwide for over 100 years. FamilySearch is a nonprofit organization sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Patrons may access FamilySearch services and resources free online at FamilySearch.org or through over 4,600 family history centers in 132 countries, including the main Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah.
If you would like more information or would like to schedule an interview, please contact Vincent Fraley, HSP's Communications Manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 215-732-6200 ext. 233.