Researching Family in Pennsylvania: Curriculum and Schedule

HomeResearching Family in Pennsylvania: Curriculum and Schedule

Researching Family in Pennsylvania: Curriculum and Schedule



Monday, July 31

8:00-8:30 AM | Meet and Greet

  • Lee Arnold, Historical Society of Pennsylvania (HSP), and Sydney Dixon, Greater Philadelphia Area Chapter, Association of Professional Genealogists (APG)

8:30–9:45 AM | Creating Pennsylvania: The Wars that Made the Keystone State

  • Patrick Spero, Librarian, American Philosophical Society
  • Synthesizing the tensions between high and low politics and between eastern and western regions in Pennsylvania before the Revolution, Spero recasts the importance of frontiers to the development of colonial Pennsylvania and the origins of American independence.

10:00–11:15 AM | Pennsylvania Record Resource Gems and Database Treasures (Part I)

  • Sydney Dixon, President, Greater Philadelphia Area Chapter, APG
  • The state of Pennsylvania is particularly rich with record collections and databases. From military records to ship crew lists – Pennsylvania’s records can supply details about your ancestors that even the Federal records cannot. However, making sure you are aware of these hidden gems and the best ways to access them can be a challenge. This presentation will discuss the resources and websites that must be explored to incorporate these valuable records into your family research.

11:30–12:45 AM | Pennsylvania Record Resource Gems and Database Treasures (Part II)

  • Sydney Dixon, President, Greater Philadelphia Area Chapter, APG

2:15–3:30 PM | Genealogical Collections at HSP

  • Lee Arnold, Senior Director of the Collections and Chief Operating Officer, HSP
  • An overview of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania collections available to the family historian to include an orientation in the library.

3:45–5:00 PM | Researching at HSP

  • Lee Arnold, Senior Director of the Collections and Chief Operating Officer, HSP
  • A tour of HSP’s Library, including the Pennsylvania Room.

5:00–7:00 PM | Mingle with History

  • Benjamin Franklin, Philadelphia's Adopted Son
  • Pleasant interlude of wine, cheese, and history with Philadelphia’s most famous citizen, Benjamin Franklin.

Tuesday, August 1

8:30–9:45 AM | Courting the Keystone State: Key Court Records of Pennsylvania (Part I)

  • Judy Russell, CG℠, CGL℠, The Legal Genealogist
  • Part I will give an overview and explore the basics of the Pennsylvania court system.  It will investigate how the Pennsylvania courts were (and are) organized; court jurisdiction (what court handles what case); court officers and records responsibility; and key court records including civil, criminal, and orphans/probate court.

10:00–11:15 AM | Courting the Keystone State: Key Court Records of Pennsylvania (Part II)

  • Judy Russell, CG℠CGL℠, The Legal Genealogist
  • Part II will highlight the specialized records of the Pennsylvania courts including naturalizations, insolvent debtors, and slave cases.  Also explored will be the specialized courts, including  appeals courts, federal courts, and their records.

11:30–12:45 PM | Geographic Timelines Part I: 18th Century Taxes and Rural Genealogy 

  • Kim Bucklaw, Archivist, Chester County Archives (PA)                                     
  • Explore 18th-century Pennsylvania tax records and learn how to use them with maps and timelines to overcome research obstacles pertaining to early rural families.

2:15–3:30 PM | Geographic Timelines Part II: 19th and 20th Century Directories and Urban Genealogy 

  • Kim Bucklaw, Archivist, Chester County Archives (PA)                                     
  • Learn how to use the clues found in directories, along with maps and timelines, to solve mysteries pertaining to ancestors in bigger cities.

3:45–5:00 PM | Self-directed Research in HSP Library

7:00–8:30 PM | Optional Walking Tour of Old Philadelphia with Ben Franklin

  • $10 per person

Wednesday, August 2

8:30–9:45 AM | Searching for a Pennsylvania German Ancestor

  • James Beidler, author of the The Family Tree German Genealogy Guide and  “Roots & Branches” columnist
  • Applying genealogical basics to the peculiarity of searching for the rich records relating to America’s first large ethnic minority populations. 

10:00–11:15 AM | Finding your Vorfahren: Genealogy with German-Language Church Records

  • Tom McCullough, Assistant Archivist, Moravian Archives
  • Interested in learning more about one’s German-speaking ancestors? Church records are often a great starting place! Using examples from the Moravian Archives in Bethlehem, course participants will learn about the various types of German-language church records (church registers, catalogs, diaries, and many more) and how to navigate them for family research.

11:30–12:45 AM | Researching Your Presbyterian Roots

  • David Koch, Reference Archivist, Presbyterian Historical Society
  • Many early Scotch-Irish were of the Presbyterian faith. Starting with a brief history of Presbyterianism in Pennsylvania, Mr. Koch will provide information on the type of records and information available at the Presbyterian Historical Society to help you discover your Presbyterian ancestors.

2:15–3:30 PM | Pennsylvania Quakers: Their History and the Records They Left

  • Annette Burke Lyttle, owner of Heritage Detective, LLC
  • Learn about the history of the Society of Friends in the Quaker State and the detailed records they kept, which are true treasures for the genealogist. Explore the background necessary to interpret and analyze those records. Online collections as well as collections at HSP and other repositories that have not been digitized will also be examined, as well as resources in neighboring states.

3:45–5:00 PM | African American Research in Pennsylvania

  • Dean Henry, professional genealogist and owner of Family Pearl, LLC    
  • An overview of African American research in Pennsylvania to include church, governmental, and social resources.

5:00–8:00 PM | Optional Self Directed Research in HSP’s Library

Thursday, August 3

8:30–9:45 AM | Metes and Bounds

  • Jerry Smith, CG℠            
  • Explore and understand the metes and bounds surveying methods used to establish land ownership in Pennsylvania.

10:00–11:15 AM | Using County Deeds in Pennsylvania Research

  • Jerry Smith, CG℠             
  • How county deeds provide a wealth of information when researching families in early Pennsylvania.

11:30–12:45 PM | Pennsylvania State Land Records Research

  • Aaron McWilliams, Reference Archivist, Pennsylvania State Archives
  • A detailed look at the State Land Records held at the Pennsylvania State Archives. The presentation will cover the five principal documents created during the patenting process, their indexes, and how to effectively search them. It will also touch on other sources at the Archives, such as land office maps and Board of Property records.

2:15–3:30 PM | Pennsylvania Revolutionary War Research

  • Aaron McWilliams, Reference Archivist, Pennsylvania State Archives
  • An overview on how to research and document the military service of Revolutionary War veterans of the Pennsylvania Line, Militia, and Navy. The lecture will cover the principal types of records, what information they contain, and how to interpret them. It will also cover some basic research strategies.

3:45–5:00 PM | Organizing the American Revolution: Pennsylvania as a Case Study

  • Eric Grundset, Librarian, Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR)
  • This presentation will explore the purpose and general content of Pennsylvania in the American Revolution: A Source Guide for Genealogists and Historians, published by The National Society Daughters of the American Revolution. Additional DAR resources important to Pennsylvania researchers will also be discussed.

5:00–8:00 PM | Optional Self Directed Research in HSP’s Library

Friday, August 4

8:30–9:45 AM | Researching and Navigating Resources Along the Delaware River

  • Sydney Dixon, President, Greater Philadelphia Area Chapter, APG     
  • The Delaware River played a significant role in the development of the Mid-Atlantic States. The river provided migration routes, political and geographic boundaries and contributed to the economic development of the five state area. We will look at the history of the early settlements of the Dutch, Swedish and English, and how the river continued to influence the social development of the region.  We will discuss the record resources connected with this great river and how they can contribute to your family research.                                                  

10:00–11:15 AM | Three Rivers Research

  • Amy Arner
  • Western Pennsylvania is dominated by three rivers--the Allegheny, the Monongahela, and the Ohio. Our ancestors used the rivers for boundaries and major transportation routes and as the focus of technological innovations. This lecture will cover how the rivers affected the history of the area, including migration patterns. It will also cover where to find records about people who migrated to the area.     

11:30–12:45 PM | The Thomas Holme Map

  • Sue Long, Ph.D.
  • Thomas Holme’s map of Pennsylvania in 1685 is a familiar sight, appearing in countless state histories. It shows the landowners at the time, with their tracts neatly outlined, and each tract named. Who were these people? The talk will include results of a year-long study identifying them, as well as engaging stories – about a suspected murder, a counterfeiting ring, cheating land deals, masters who assaulted the virtue of their servant women, astrology, highway robbery, pirates and more. We hear the voices of the late 17th century as people call each other “rogues, knaves, and beggarly dogs”, or when a horse thief calls his brother “the most faint hearted man that lives."

12:45–1:15 PM | Certificates, Critiques, and Farewells