State Courthouse Records
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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.

State Court Records
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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

[1st series] in 12 volumes

  • County Government and Archives in Pennsylvania (1947) by Sylvester K. Stevens and Donald H. Kent, while a bit dated, explains the responsibilities of the various county offices, with a good description of the county courts.
  • Cumberland County, Pennsylvania Quarter Sessions Dockets, 1750–1789 (2000) by Diane E. Greene
  • Pennsylvania Court Record Books (
  • State Land Records