Pennsylvania is more than just the Keystone State—it was also a key starting point for many immigrants on their way both south and west. Research and explore your Pennsylvania genealogy online with these online Pennsylvania family history databases, indexes and digitized records collections - many of them free!
Since September 30, 1885, marriages in Pennsylvania have been recorded by the county Clerk of the Orphans Court or the Marriage License Clerk in each PA county. For the years 1885 through 1891, the state's Department of Internal Affairs also maintained a Record of Marriages, with semi-alphabetically arranged entries for both brides and grooms. Images of these records through the year 1889 are available for free online viewing in PDF format from the Pennsylvania State Archives.
Digitized images of the pages in the published Pennsylvania Archives series are online for free browsing and searching at Fold3.com (no subscription required for this particular collection). The entire series consists of 138 published volumes (in 10 series) of early Pennsylvania government records transcribed and printed by the Commonwealth, including military, tax, land, naturalization, marriage and baptism records, plus ship passenger lists and other items relevant to both genealogy and history in Pennsylvania.
Scanned land records, viewable online from the Pennsylvania State Archives include Warrant Registers, Copied Survey Books, Donation Lands, Indexes of Selected Original (Loose) Surveys, Depreciation Land Register and Old Rights (Index) for Philadelphia and Bucks and Chester counties.
The digital Pennsylvania Genealogy Collection online for free from the State Library of Pennsylvania includes the Pennsylvania Necrology Scrapbook of obituaries clipped from Pennsylvania newspapers between 1891 and 1904 (including many Civil War veterans) and the Harrisburg Newspaper Index with marriages and deaths from four Harrisburg area newspapers 1799 to 1827. Other free online Pennsylvania genealogy databases from the PA State Library include PA Civil War Regimental Histories and a number of digitized PA historical newspapers
The Pittsburgh Press and Pittsburgh Post-Gazette are just two of the major Pennsylvania newspapers available online for free in digitized format from Google News Archive. The search function for the older Pittsburgh papers is terrible, so don't by any means rely on a surname search to find ancestors. If you can locate a death date from a tombstone or other death record, then directly browse the papers from the prior few days page by page for your ancestors. You can often find an index on the first page of each paper with the issue page number for "obituaries" and/or "death notices."
More: Google News Archive Tips for Genealogists
Anyone with ancestors living in Western Pennsylvania should explore this free collection of historical books, documents and other resources relating to the history and genealogy of Western PA. Free online records include indexed U.S. census schedules for the city of Pittsburgh and Allegheny City (1850, 1860, 1870 and 1880); over 18,000 historic photographs of people and places; historic Pittsburgh and Allegheny County real estate and survey maps; full text copies of over 1200 books about Pittsburgh published in the 19th and early 20th centuries; and digitized copies of 125 historic Pittsburgh city directories dating from 1815 through the 1940s.
Anyone researching Pennsylvania military ancestors should check out ARIAS (Archives Records Information Access System) which has over 1.5 million card images relating to military service available online for free viewing. Collections include PA National Guard Veteran's Card File (1867-1921), Civil War Veterans' Card File, Revolutionary War Military Abstract Cards, World War I Service Medal Application Cards, Spanish American War Veterans' Card File, Mexican Border Campaign Veterans' Card File and Militia Officer Index Cards.