A man researching his genealogy

Genealogy & Ancestry Research

If you have ancestors in York County, the Library & Archives has a wealth of resources to help you with your research. When you visit the library, come prepared with the information you have already gathered. The recording of vital statistics varies from one municipality to another, whether on the county or state level. Pennsylvania did not record births and deaths until 1906 and York County began recording marriages in 1885. Prior to these dates, one must consult other sources, such as church records, newspaper obituaries and cemetery tombstone abstractions to fill in missing information.

We currently have over 9,000 family surname files which contain information from church records, estate records, tax records, burial information from a 1930s cemetery survey, and obituaries, wedding and engagement announcements clipped from the local newspapers. The family files also contain materials contributed by researchers and volunteers, which could include research queries, family charts and group sheets, research notes, photocopies of legal documents, and other materials collected by researchers. We also have a large collection of family genealogies that have been donated by the authors.

This Surname Database shows the Family Surname Files that are currently available for research at the History Center Library & Archives.  To search the Surname Database, enter a surname (ex: Smyth).  The results will show the surname followed by the Control Name that it is filed under in the Family Files (ex: Smyth/Smith).  Enter the Control Name to see all the variations of surnames currently found in our Family Files.

Other important genealogy resources are Family Genealogical Reports compiled by the Historical Society of York County beginning in the 1930s. The Family Report provides data about one particular family that was available at the time of compilation. They are useful to the researcher who wants to get a broad overview of a particular family’s presence in York County.  Click the link above for the searchable Family Reports database.

The York County History Center also has an online database of scanned Bible Records and is one of the only repositories in Pennsylvania that has the two major York County newspapers and their predecessors on microfilm. In addition the Library & Archives has subscriptions to the online databases Ancestry.com/Library Edition, Newspapers.com/Pennsylvania Edition and Fold3, a source for U.S. military records.

Please note that Research Orders (online or by mail) are currently unavailable due to moving preparations.  Please check back with us in Spring 2024.


My Family Tree – starter guide

The South Central Pennsylvania Genealogical Society 

South Central Pennsylvania Genealogical Society, Inc. (SCPGS) is an all-volunteer, non-profit organization of genealogists. As genealogists, they study ancestry and family history, and are interested in preserving family heritage for future generations. Their primary geographic area of interest and coverage is Pennsylvania’s York and Adams Counties. Their purpose is to encourage and promote an interest in genealogy by collecting and preserving materials related to genealogy, encouraging the compilation and publication of family genealogies and histories, publishing materials of interest and benefit to members, holding meetings for the education of members and the public, and offering financial and volunteer support to the library at the York County History Center. For publication order information, please visit their website.

Monthly meetings are held in the Meeting Hall of the York County History Center, at 250 East Market Street, York, Pennsylvania unless otherwise noted. The business portion of the meeting begins at 2:30 PM followed by the program. Meetings are FREE and open to the public.