An In-Brief Guide to Pennsylvania Genealogy

Powell-Penn-INBRIEFOver the past few months, I have been working with Elissa Scalise Powell, CG, CGL, to develop a research guide to Pennsylvania genealogy. Elissa has quite the resume of knowledge when it comes to Pennsylvania genealogy and I was thrilled to get the opportunity to work with her. The format of the in-brief guides for The In-Depth Genealogist is a 4-page layout so that it can be printed as a laminated guide. Little did I realize how hard it would be to condense all the great information Elissa developed into that format!

You may not be familiar with Elissa’s credentials so I thought I would share a bit about her. Elissa Scalise Powell, CG, CGL, a western Pennsylvania researcher for over 25 years, is the co-director of the Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh (GRIP), and Professional Genealogy Course Coordinator at the Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research (IGHR). She was an instructor and module creator for Boston University’s Genealogical Research Certificate program 2008-2016. She was the course co-coordinator of the AG/CG Preparation Course at the 2010 and 2013 Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy (SLIG). She is a regional and national speaker on such topics as Pennsylvania records, methodology, professional development, and society management. Needless to say Elissa knows her stuff! Just read this introduction and you’ll get the gist of the content that Elissa provides.

“Pennsylvania’s nickname, the Keystone State, is true in genealogy as well. Many of our early ancestors first came to America through the port of Philadelphia which was also the nation’s first capital before it moved to Washington, D.C. “Penn’s woods” welcomed people of all faiths and ethnicities making it Penn’s “Holy Experiment.” The westward expansion of the early 1800s toward Pittsburgh and the head of the Ohio River saw our ancestors open new territories. The industrial revolution of the late 1800s and early 1900s brought new immigrant workers to the coal mines and steel mills of Pennsylvania. The Allegheny Mountains, which run through the center of the state, were a barrier to westward expansion and still divide the state today with differences from language accents and food to sports and politics.”

The guide includes Factoids, a Timeline of important Pennsylvania events, Vital Records, Research Strategies, Migration Routes and Motivations, books, periodicals, articles, and over a hundred links to help you along your way. I found Elissa’s section on brick-wall busting through using records available in the courthouse. These suggestions are quite helpful and I look forward to trying them out for myself in the future. The guide is available at The In-Depth Genealogist store as a 4-page PDF ($2.75) or as a laminated print ($9.95 + shipping).


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