Kinsearching July 29, 2012




Marleta Childs
P. O. Box 6825
LUBBOCK, TX 79493-6825

     Another new addition to the guides in the popular “Genealogy at a Glance” series focuses on a specific state. Compiled by veteran genealogist John T. Humphrey, Pennsylvania Genealogy Research reflects his vast amount of experience and knowledge concerning resources in the Keystone State.

     Following the standard format of the series, Humphrey condenses into four laminated pages an overview of some basics that researchers should know in order to navigate successfully through the unique genealogical resources of Pennsylvania. To help individuals understand how the background of the area’s settlement and topography affects research, he emphasizes several facts. For example, family researchers need to be aware that Pennsylvania was the most diverse colony in British North America in regard to religious faith and practice. Many pioneers in the seventeenth century came to the colony from Sweden, Holland, England, Wales, and German-speaking areas of Europe like Switzerland and Germany; the early eighteenth century saw the influx of Scots-Irish from Northern Ireland. The most populous state in the nation in 1790 (the year the first U. S. census was taken), Pennsylvania maintained its rank as the second most populous state for almost a century.

     Since Philadelphia was a major port of entry to British North America for many years, thousands of people passed through the colony. Prior to the Revolutionary War, the Pennsylvania “Germans” formed the largest non-English-speaking group in the colony and they held on to their native language and traditions, which can cause difficulties in research. (Because Pennsylvania was the only colony to keep documentation on alien immigrants, the records are a major source of information for genealogists seeking eighteenth-century ancestors arriving from the Continent). Increasing population in the colony created major migration routes into other areas, especially Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina. Many families stayed in the area for awhile while others immediately moved on. After the Revolution, numerous families began migrating into Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, and Illinois. Rather or not their forebears lingered in Pennsylvania, millions of genealogists may discover a connection to the Keystone State at some point in their research.

     Humphrey then turns his attention to brief discussions of vital records and major resources pertaining to church, land, probate, tax, and census, as well as newspapers. He also mentions often overlooked sources such as poor children school records and the 1798 U. S. direct tax. At the end of each category, he often supplies a research tip and a list of printed and/or online sources for further reference.

     Because much genealogical research today is conducted online, Humphrey concludes his work with the URLS for several useful websites, including the specialized Moravian Archives. For each site, he supplies a synopsis of the various materials available.

     Like the other items in the “Genealogy at a Glance” series, Humphrey’s publication manages to distill a huge amount of information about a specific subject into its key components. Pennsylvania Genealogy Research is a handy, compact guide that will be useful to many family researchers whose roots extend back into the Keystone State.

     To the guide's price of $8.95, buyers should add the cost for postage and handling charges. For U. S. postal mail, the cost is $4.50 for one item and $2.50 for each additional copy; for FedEx ground service, the cost is $6.00 for one copy and $2.50 for each additional item. The guide (item order 2948) may be purchased by check, money order, MasterCard, or Visa from Genealogical Publishing Company, 3600 Clipper Mill Rd., Suite 260, Baltimore, MD 21211-1953. For phone orders, call toll free 1-800-296-6687; fax 1-410-752-8492; website

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