Guide to Pennsylvania Historical Resources

As one of the original thirteen colonies and the site of key events during the American Revolution, the Keystone State has many fascinating stores to tell. Rich with military, political, cultural, and religious history there's much to be learned by examining Pennsylvania's past. The recommended sites and pages in this guide all provide high-quality, credible resources and information for the traveler, genealogist, student, or history buff.

Museums and Historical Societies

The historical societies and museums of Pennsylvania dedicate their existence to preserving and sharing the state's intriguing history with the public. The sites and societies listed here offer access to works and objects of great historical significance free to the public. Start here if you're interested in learning about some of the people and events that make Pennsylvania a favorite destination for tourists and historians alike.

  • Historical Society of Pennsylvania The HSP works tirelessly to foster enthusiasm for Pennsylvania history through preservation and education. Use their site to plan your visit to a historic site, read about state history, and look through hundreds of archived documents and photographs.
  • Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission The PHMC is entirely dedicated to the preservation of the history and culture of Pennsylvania. On the site, you can access information about their work in preserving historical areas and important artifacts. You can also access some archived texts and see some digitized museum exhibits.
  • State Museum of Pennsylvania The SMP is an absolutely invaluable resource for discovering the rich history of Pennsylvania. At the museum, you can see hundreds of permanent and traveling exhibits in person. On the site, you can access dozens of excellent online exhibits.
  • Pennsylvania Military Museum The Pennsylvania Military Museum is home to exhibits, artifacts, and even living history demonstrations to help visitors learn more about Pennsylvania's proud military history. On the site, you'll find online exhibits and archived documents of interest.
Pennsylvania Genealogy Sites

Genealogy is a great way to discover both the history of a place and the story of your own ancestry. These sites and pages serve up heaps of useful resources to use in tracing your Pennsylvania area genealogy. Find archived records, statistical data, and plenty of other research materials. You can also contribute to existing genealogical databases by adding information from your own family records.

  • Pennsylvania Genealogy Resources This Ancestry.com page is full of fantastic resources to help you trace your Pennsylvania genealogy. Browse through area Census and voter records, birth and death certificates, naturalization and immigration documents, and lots more.
  • The PAGenWeb Project This site is chock-full of resources and tools for studying Pennsylvania genealogical history. Find helpful documents and records, track down your Pennsylvanian ancestors, and learn about family reunions and genealogical society events.
  • Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania The GSP offers all kinds of free tools and resources to the public for the purpose of studying local genealogy. Search by name, place, year, or keyword to find relatives or access archived information about Pennsylvania residents dating back hundreds of years.
  • New England Historic Genealogy Society The NEHGS specializes in providing genealogical research materials for people in the US and Canada who are interested in tracing their ancestry back to colonial states.
Regional History

Pennsylvania is home to several historically significant regions. The following sites are focused solely on particular towns, cities, or counties. The resources they offer allow you to take your Pennsylvania historical research a step further, peering into some of the unique people and events that make these places special.

  • County of Berks Historic Resources Explore the fascinating history of Lancaster County using the LHS's beautiful website. Plan visits to historical museums and other historical attractions, and have fun viewing vast collections of photos and documents.
  • Lancaster Historical Society The NEHGS specializes in providing genealogical research materials for people in the US and Canada who are interested in tracing their ancestry back to colonial states.
  • Colonial Williamsburg Colonial Williamsburg is a society whose mission is to recreate, preserve, and educate people about colonial-era Williamsburg. Find out about local events or access informative publications and archived artifacts.
  • Pittsburgh History Learn all about the history of the iconic city of Pittsburgh on this site. Explore historical architecture, take a photo and video tour, delve into Pittsburgh's African American History, and more.
Pennsylvania History for Kids

Pennsylvania historical research can be a lot of fun even for the youngest history explorers. Use the resources provided in this section to teach kids and teens about the state's history in ways that are approachable and exciting. All of these sites are free to use and on them you'll find fun trivia, timelines and maps, and even some cool games. There are also free printable lesson plans for teachers and parents.

  • Pennsylvania Page by KidsConnect This excellent page gives kids a rundown of Pennsylvania's vital statistics. There's also an amazing collection of links to things like the state's Constitution so kids can explore further.
  • Pennsylvania Fun This page features an interactive state map, fun facts, and some games and activities to get kids involved in studying Pennsylvania history.
  • Discover Pennsylvania for Kids The State of Pennsylvania's official website hosts this history page for kids with cool articles, fun facts, and links to other fun pages and activities.
  • Pennsylvania Lesson Plans If you're a teacher or parent looking for some fun ways to educate kids about Pennsylvania culture and history, check out the resources on this page. There are worksheets, lesson plans, and activity guides all free to use.
More Great Pennsylvania History Resources

Keep reading for more places where you can find incredibly valuable resources for researching Pennsylvania's history. Lovingly curated collections made digital for all to see, local tales of adventure and scandal, updates on historical designations, and archived newspapers of old all await on the following pages.

  • Pennsylvania History This incredible assortment of online exhibits has been made available to the public by the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh. Access beautiful collections of photographs, mind-opening history lessons, and archived stories.
  • Explore PA History Check out this great compilation of stories if you want to explore Pennsylvania's interesting and complicated history a little more in-depth. Read factual tales about everything from William Penn's "Holy Experiment" to Pennsylvania's enduring love of team sports.
  • PA Historic Preservation Blog To keep up on the many restoration and preservation projects going on in Pennsylvania, bookmark this site. The official blog of the PHMC, this is also a great place to browse through fantastic photos of state historical sites.
  • Pennsylvania Newspapers This unique collection of archived Pennsylvania newspapers is kept by the Library of Congress for the purpose of historical research. Browse archived editions of more than 75 newspapers dating back to the mid-1800s.
  • Hallowed Grounds PA Planning a trip to Pennsylvania? Use this reference page to find all of the historically significant places you may want to visit. Find everything from the cost of a Gettysburg Battlefield Bus Tour to the hours of operation for an 18th century tavern.

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