Among the threads of our lives that involve jobs, paying bills, doing homework with our kids or changing our grandchild's diapers, for truly dedicated family researchers the quest for ancestral information never stops.
And no matter if you've been at your family research for 2, 10, 20 or 35 years, somehow you make time for the search in your busy schedule. There is no doubt the emergence and growth of internet resources in the past 15 years has completely changed the way genealogists access family information. We consistently scour FamilySearch, Ancestry, and GenealogyBank (the "Big 3") for any newly added collections. And for years thousands have freely contributed to online resources such as US GenWeb.
So what else is out there to research?
College and University libraries have been adding online finding aids for their collections at an unprecedented rate in the past few years, which offers genealogists a much smoother path to collections otherwise hidden to us.
And despite funding cutbacks, many of Pennsylvania colleges and universities are moving forward with digitizing their collections. Below is a list of some Pennsylvania college and university online collections, but is by no means comprehensive.
You might wonder what, exactly, could be in a college archive or library that might pertain to your ancestor? Depending on the location of the school, the town that may have built up around it, or the businesses that supported it, your ancestor having actually attended the college might not be the only reason you may find family information within their collections.
Many college and university libraries and archives have over the years accepted private collections of family, business or local industry papers. These collections might contain diaries, journals, business receipt books, invoices, employee payrolls and other such ephemera. In some cases you may not find direct information about your ancestor, but will learn about historical context for his/her chosen occupation or local history.
But you'll never know until you look for it.
THE KEYSTONE LIBRARY NETWORK (The Online Digital Collections of Bloomsburg University, California University of Pennsylvania, Clarion University, Kutztown University, Millersville University, Slippery Rock University, and West Chester University.)
TRIPTYCH - TRI-COLLEGE DIGITAL LIBRARY (Contains Bryn Mawr College, Friends Historical Library at Swarthmore College and Haverford College Digital Collections.)