Pennsylvania Government records cover a broad range of genealogy subject areas that can help you as part of your research, such as land ownership, courts, taxes, and naturalization’s. Given that Pennsylvania court records cover such a wide selection of topics, they could aid you in many different ways. As an example, they could aid you in finding ancestors’ residences, identify occupations, locate financial information, determine citizenship status, or shed light on relationships between individuals. The whole thing relies upon on the type of court records that the ancestors” names show up in. For Definitions of all court terms see the Genealogy Encyclopedia.
Pennsylvania Courthouse records change extensively from county to county in both level of quality and volume. You will find different kinds of court records that are most likely to possess information related for your genealogical research below.
Pennsylvania Court Records
Since 1707 the clerk of the court of common pleas has acted as prothonotary. There are several records that can be found there, including: Divorces, Naturalizations, Peddlers’ Licenses, Registration of Attorneys, Oaths of County Officers, Equity, Sheriff’s Sales, Juror Lists, Some Tax Records, Some Civil Court Records.
The clerk of the courts holds other records of court proceedings. Although, several journals have published abstracts of some of those records. One of those journals and periodicals is the Western Pennsylvania Historical Magazine.
There are other courts in the state, but most of them may not have information of genealogical interest. Those courts include the supreme court, which has existed since 1722, and the superior court, which has existed since 1895. Both of them act mainly as appellate courts. The National Archives Mid-Atlantic Region holds federal court records.
The Prothonotary / Clerk of Courts is the keeper/clerk of the civil records/division for the court and is responsible for filing, storing, and distributing official civil documents. See Also Guide to U.S. Court Records Research
- History of Courts in Pennsylvania (pagenweb.org)
- Short History of Pennsylvania’s Courts (courts.state.pa.us)
- U.S. Circuit Court Criminal Case Files, 1790-1871 This database contains images of criminal case files of the U.S. Circuit Court for the District of Maryland, 1795-1860, Southern District of New York, 1790-1853, Eastern District of Pennsylvania, 1791-1840, Eastern District of Louisiana, New Orleans, 1870-1871
- Colonial records of Pennsylvania
- Index to Pennsylvania’s Colonial Records Series
- General index to the Colonial record, in 16 volumes, and to the Pennsylvania archives