What are the most popular records at the Pennsylvania State Archive? Listen in as Aaron McWilliams tells us.
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[00:00:02] Denys Allen: Can you review what is sort of the, I think there’s like always like a couple of layers to an archive. So what’s the, the most common records people use at the Pennsylvania state archive.
[00:00:16] Aaron McWilliams: Sure, sure. Yeah. And kind of the, the, if we start very broad in general in nature, the, the big ones are always the county records that we have here. Then you have naturalization immigration and land and then military, it’s kind of a very broad umbrella.
[00:00:36] We’ll start with military, with military, probably the largest or the most requested records would be the Revolutionary War. And we get a lot of SAR, Sons of American Revolution, DAR Daughters American revolution applicants coming in to try and document their ancestors. We get a lot of people coming in doing those and sending us emails and requests to, to do searches for those.
[00:01:01] Those are very heavily used. That’s why we have them on microfilm. Civil war was big. It’s kind of waned a bit. We used to get a decent amount of civil war, but that has, has since kind of started tampering down. And all the later 20th century, if you’re looking at the Spanish American war, World War One, World War Two, we put a lot of those records that we have on, on ancestry now so we really don’t get too many requests or people coming in looking for those we just kind of direct them to ancestry.
[00:01:31] Naturalizations and immigration. The Supreme court, naturalizations used to be very big Supreme court of Pennsylvania. But since we’ve, we’ve put those on ancestry, those have fallen off, but those ships lists of German passengers, 1727 to 1808.
[00:01:46] Those, those are still big that, that we have a lot of people coming in to get copies of the original signatures. There’s a lot of transcriptions out there, you know, the, the German pioneers booked by Strassburger and Hinke are very good. But getting those actual signatures that people are looking for, we still get requests.
[00:02:05] And a lot of people trying to get copies of those originals. When it comes to land records, it’s still those, those original warrants, surveys and patents to state land records. A lot of people come in with already using the indexes on our website, in accessing those and have all the records that we have. Probably the, those land records are, are very popular, particularly for the surveyors. We get a lot of surveyors looking for the patents.
[00:02:32] And then county records, county records in general. While we don’t have a huge collection, you shouldn’t have original county county records. We do have a vast, I think it’s about, oh, close to about 18,000 rolls of county microfilm that, that we’ve done over over the years of the county records, either we purchase from the LDS or through what we used to have a grant program to microfilm county records.
[00:02:56] Those are probably the heaviest hit we have. And, you know, we may not have everything for the county, but it’s nice to have a place that you can go to and kind of. You know, a good portion of the counties in one spot. Pennsylvania is a big state. My research is in Erie county. I don’t get up there much, but we have a decent amount of microfilm that I can at least hit the major items. The deeds, will books and such like that here so those, those definitely be the largest ones.
[00:03:23] Denys Allen: Had an ancestor that lived in Pennsylvania. They could have served in the national guard and there’d be some records there that you’d want to research. And is there an index online that people could look at or is the index just at the archives?
[00:03:36] Aaron McWilliams: it’s, it’s, it’s both. You have, there is an index online that you can access through our website. But that index covers from the, the national guards kind of formation. I think it’s 1867 or 1869 to about 1919 time period. Okay. That index is, is online, their cards. They contain abstracted information from the various quarterly returns and muster roles that are in our collection.
[00:04:08] But there’s another set of veteran cards that kind of pick up where those leave off that go up to the, up to World War One.
[00:04:17] And then there’s, there’s some that go just a little bit beyond a World War One card wise that serves as an index to it. Now with the newer national guard, because now we’re starting to get post-World war II national guard records to our collection. They do have cards, but you, you have to know when they’re discharged.
[00:04:36] Okay, so to use it. So it’s not, it’s not like the earlier indexes where you just look by name and see if you can find it. This one, you kind of have to know when they’re discharged and then,
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