HomeHow-ToLancaster County Historical Society Website: A Terrific Research Resource

If you haven’t been to this site in awhile (or not at all), take a look at the Lancaster County Historical Society website. I think it is a really great example of a website that’s an effective tool for research and public access of archival collections. So many archive/library websites just port their generic online catalog to the web, tell you what hours they are open, and that’s all you get. Not so here. The indexing and search capabilities of the collections are superb. They have some excellent, original county records, manuscripts, newspaper, and document collections. The majority of them are searchable via their website, and some of the newspapers are free and online. Not only are they searchable, but the search engine interface is in plain English and can be used without a degree in Boolean or programming logic.

It is a pleasant surprise to actually find out more information about an archive’s manuscript collection than just the individual titles. All collections include box/folder descriptions for the holdings within the collection. They also have some excellent research guides to help you find the most productive resources if you are new to genealogy, or just new to the region. I wish more archives and libraries took the time (and had the resources) to do this. I went there looking for county records, and look at the titles I found there – almost all of which are fully searchable not only by name, but also by keyword and other primary names mentioned within the documents:

[Click here for full description of these records]

Administrators’ Accounts

Appearance Dockets

Auditors’ Reports

Bridge Records

Collateral Appraisements

Commissioners’ Orders

Continuance Dockets

Defendant Index

Divorce Index

Estate Inventories

Estate Vouchers

Habeas Corpus


Liquor License Papers

Marriage Applications and Consent Forms

Marriage License Applications

Mechanics’ Liens

MISS (Miscellaneous Orphans Court Proceedings)

Plaintiff Index

Quarter Sessions Docket

Quarter Sessions Papers


Tax Lists

Vendue Lists


If you have Lancaster County, Pennsylvania ancestors, this is a must-see website. If you are involved in a society or archive that is looking for excellent examples of how to present your collections, I highly recommend presenting this site as an example.

Happy Hunting!


Lancaster County Historical Society Website: A Terrific Research Resource — 1 Comment

  1. Oh my! That is a gorgeous site. I have an uncle who lived in Lancaster for a few years but more recently (in the 90s). I should still become familiar though with their records and should probably start capturing them sooner rather than later.