Genealogical Resources

Genealogical Card File

Search the genealogical card file, an alphabetical card file consisting of names, dates, and other vital statistics on an estimated 800,000 individuals. Both the paternal (father) and maternal (mother) lines can be traced if the vital information is complete.

Online Library Catalog

Check the online library catalog for books, DVDs, CD-ROMS, etc. available for research use, including the following.

Genealogies: More than 3,000 published genealogies.

Local History-Secular, Church-Related: County, township, town/city, and congregational histories as well as Mennonite and non-Mennonite church records (see CHURCH RECORDS AND REGISTERS) for Lancaster and other Pennsylvania counties serve as good resources.

Biographical Works: Biographical encyclopedias and directories for various counties aid the genealogist.

Directories: City and county directories provide names, addresses, occupations, and other helpful data.

Gazetteers: These identify and give short descriptions of towns, mountains, lakes, valleys, and streams. The basic reference tool is the Columbia-Lippincott Gazetteer of the World, shelved in the reference area. The Rand McNally Commercial Atlas & Marketing Guide lists cities, villages, and townships in the U.S.

Ship Passenger Lists: Lists of immigrants who landed at Philadelphia between 1727 and 1808 appear in the three-volume Pennsylvania German Pioneers. The multi-volume Passenger and Immigration Lists Index gives thousands of names and dates of immigrants to North American ports from 1600 to 1900.

Encyclopedias: The five-volume Mennonite Encyclopedia and the four-volume Brethren Encyclopedia, shelved in the reference area, are comprehensive works containing entries on surnames, most Mennonite and Brethren congregations, conferences, European Anabaptist history, doctrines, church practices, and many other subjects. An online version of the Mennonite Encyclopedia is now freely available at

Additional Genealogical Sources A wealth of U.S. and international records, including census, birth, marriage, military, immigration, photographs, maps, atlases, and family trees. The Society does not make this resource available outside the library.

Atlases and Maps: Lancaster County atlases-published in 1864, 1875, and 1899-show landowners, acreage, churches, graveyards, school, and mills and are shelved along with contemporary atlases in the reference area. Approximately fifty atlases from other Pennsylvania counties as well as patentee (warrant) maps, which locate land sold to the first individual landowners, are available upon request. The book/CD-ROM set Early Landowners of PA includes modern road maps superimposed on the warrant maps for Lancaster County townships.

Cemetery Transcriptions: More than 2,500 cemetery transcriptions from Lancaster and other counties, states, and countries are listed by cemetery name, location, and religious denomination. In addition, the Gerberich and Worner collections appear on microfilm. See also the subject heading CEMETERIES in the library catalog.

Census Records: Published indexes for the Pennsylvania census from 1790 to 1860 and to 1870 for eastern Pennsylvania are in the reference area. The library has all Lancaster County census records from 1790 through 1930 (except 1890) on microfilm as well as records for other Pennsylvania counties for selected years. Census records are also available through (see above).

Databases: Two significant databases that focus on southeastern Pennsylvania and Mennonite genealogy are available through the Online Resources. The Russian-Mennonite GRANDMA database is available on the public computers.

Deeds: A book of published deed abstracts for Lancaster County from 1729 to about 1770 is shelved in the reference area. Selected deed abstracts from 1729 to 1832 are filed in the card file.

Obituaries: Miscellaneous, indexed death records begin in the 1700s. Clippings from the Lancaster Intelligencer Journal are complete from 1970 to the present along and are available online. Abstracts of many obituaries from the Mennonite periodicals Herald of Truth (1864-1908), Gospel Herald (1908-1998), and The Mennonite (1999 ff.) as well as several local Mennonite periodicals are integrated into the genealogical card file.

Online Resources: Materials available electronically to Society members and library visitors, including databases, obituaries, Pennsylvania Mennonite Heritage issues, and more. Password required outside the library.

Orphans’ Court Records: A collection of indexed abstracts appears in the card catalog for the Lancaster County Orphans’ Court records from 1740 to 1804. Family relationships are often indicated in these important records. Microfilms of the original records from 1742 to 1867 and of the index from 1742 to 1891 are available.

Periodicals:  Articles from Pennsylvania Mennonite Heritage and selections from the library’s numerous other historical and genealogical periodicals have been included in the library catalog. There is also a topical index of periodical articles in a separate section of the card file. Articles are available upon request.

Surname Exchange File: This file contains names of researchers and the surnames pertaining to their interests. You are invited to complete blank cards at the back of the drawer.

Surname Files: Correspondence, genealogists’ papers, and miscellaneous items are valuable sources covering over sixty linear feet of vertical file space. This material is listed in the genealogical card file by surname (more than 3,000) and may be requested of staff. (Cards “See Genealogical Archives.”)

Tax Records: Published indexes for some tax lists of the 1700s in Lancaster and other counties exist in addition to microfilms of original tax lists of Lancaster County from about 1750 to about 1855.

Wills: Shelved in the reference area is a series of cross-indexed will abstracts for the following Pennsylvania counties: Lancaster (1721-1820), Berks (1752-1825), Bucks (1785-1825), Chester (1714-1825), Cumberland (1750-1825), Montgomery (1784-1850), Philadelphia (1682-1825), and York (1749-1820). Microfilms of Lancaster County wills exist from 1730 to 1908, and of the index, from 1729 to 1947.