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State of Pennsylvania
Court Records Research

Pennsylvania Court Records - Since 1707 the clerk of the court of common pleas has acted as prothonotary. There are several records that can be found there, including: Divorces, Naturalizations, Peddlers' Licenses, Registration of Attorneys, Oaths of County Officers, Equity, Sheriff's Sales, Juror Lists, Some Tax Records, Some Civil Court Records.

The clerk of the courts holds other records of court proceedings. Although, several journals have published abstracts of some of those records. One of those journals and periodicals is the Western Pennsylvania Historical Magazine.

There are other courts in the state, but most of them may not have information of genealogical interest. Those courts include the supreme court, which has existed since 1722, and the superior court, which has existed since 1895. Both of them act mainly as appellate courts. The National Archives Mid-Atlantic Region holds federal court records.

The Prothonotary / Clerk of Courts is the keeper/clerk of the civil records/division for the court and is responsible for filing, storing, and distributing official civil documents.

Pennsylvania Tax Records - County tax records spanning from 1765 to 1791 have been published in Pennsylvania Archives series 3. Only a few U.S. Direct Tax lists from 1798 survived. That group of surviving records includes the Pennsylvania records. The National Archives has placed them on microfilm. They can be found at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, National Archives Mid-Atlantic Region in Philadelphia, and the Pennsylvania State Archives. Many indexes for counties have been published, but the Chester and Berks county lists are incomplete. The county tax assessment offices usually hold tax records, but the prothonotary or the county commissioner's office may hold some of those records as well. Some of the records from 1715 to the 1930s are also available at the Pennsylvania State Archives. The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh has early records for Crawford, Washington, Bedford, and Fayette counties, as well as some other counties, especially those in the western part of the state. The Historical Society of Pennsylvania, the Philadelphia City Archives, the Pennsylvania State Archives, and other manuscript collections also have some Pennsylvania tax records on file.

Tax records are typically found in the county tax assessment offices but may also be in the county commissioners’ office or with the prothonotary.

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