Using the GSP Website

For a summary of search tips, scroll down to “Using Our Search Feature” at the end of this page.

The Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania is staffed by part-time employees and volunteers.  We began rebuilding our website in late 2015 and we are still adding collections to the site.  You can view a list of the public collections that we currently have online at and view a list of the member collections at

Most of our collections consist of typed documents in PDF format.  We strive whenever possible to convert our files to PDF documents that are searchable using our website search option. Search results for our member collections include links to protected files that are “unlocked” when you are logged in as a member on our website.  There is often a short delay while files open.

Search results are not highlighted when you open a file as they are on some larger and/or commercial websites.  To locate your search term once the file is open, hold down the Ctrl key followed by the F key (Find) to open a search box on your screen and enter your search term. To make pages larger, hold down the Ctrl key followed by the + key and to make pages smaller, hold down the Ctrl key followed by the – key.

If you receive no results for your initial search, it does not necessarily mean that GSP has no information about your family, but rather that none of the collections that are currently full-text searchable on our website have the surname or search term listed.   Some of our collections include handwritten records and some have older typefaces that are not always readable by search engines, so you may want to browse through the collections individually to look for family names.  Another option is to search by geographic location and check indexes.  If a name is common or can be used in sentences, for example: “black” or “miles” or “buck”, the results will be challenging to sift through.  Take different approaches and compare results.

Most of our collections of records are from the 18th and 19th centuries, with some that include records into the early decades of the 20th century.  One exception to this is the Mount Moriah Cemetery Database.  While this is only one cemetery, it is quite a large one, and includes deaths well into the mid- and late-20th century.  It is possible that someone in your family might be in this database.  The Mount Moriah database has a separate search, members can email for a lookup included with membership.

We strive to collect records from throughout the state, but most of our collections are from eastern Pennsylvania, particularly Philadelphia and its surrounding counties.  We also have several collections of records from south central and northeastern Pennsylvania. This is partly due to GSP’s historic location in Philadelphia, but also because of the history of Pennsylvania as a state.  The original three counties of Pennsylvania were Bucks, Chester, and Philadelphia.  Other counties formed from these three counties, and records from other counties prior to their formation will be found in the parent counties.  For information on when your county of interest formed, please consult the list of Pennsylvania county creation dates and parent counties at

The Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania, like other genealogical societies, also has programs and services in addition to our online collections. We also have many books in our office Research Library and collections that are not yet online.   We can assist you with your research and guide you in your search for records about your family, particularly in Pennsylvania.


  1. Enter search terms and click search button
  2. Click search result of interest
  3. Select Continue Reading
  4. Most of our collections are large PDF files, which might take some time to load
  5. When page opens, hold down the Ctrl key followed by F (Find) or your browser’s “Edit and Find” or “Search Page” to locate search terms in file
  6. To make pages larger, hold down the Ctrl key followed by the + key.  To make pages smaller, hold down the Ctrl key followed by the – key

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