|Genealogy Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)|
Q: Can I look for my family name on a centralized list that you have?|
A: No, there is no centralized list of surnames, nor is there a comprehensive index to the thousands of family names included in the individual church records in our holdings. Presbyterians do not keep centralized records of baptisms, marriages, or church memberships. All records are currently, and were historically, kept only by the individual congregation where your relatives worshipped.
Q: What information do I need to search for genealogical records at PHS?
Q: I don't know what church my relatives attended. How do I find that out?
There are many sources of genealogical information that may be helpful, including local historical societies, vital records, historical maps, city directories, and more. Also, internet resources such as www.familysearch.org and www.rootsweb.ancestry.com have useful genealogical information, and you can search by surname. For additional listings of family history internet resources, click here.
If you are concentrating on the Philadelphia area, Historical Directory of Presbyterian Churches and Presbyteries of Greater Philadelphia: Related to the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and Its Antecedents, 1690-1990, by Kenneth A. Hammonds, has a cross street index of churches. This item is available for purchase through the "Publications" link on our website, or for use in our reading room. The title may also be available via interlibrary loan (ILL) from another institution that owns it. We also have an historical Philadelphia map with church locations here at PHS.
Q: How do I search your catalog for church records?
We also have compiled Church Records Surveys for select churches, which list records deposited in our holdings. The Church Records Surveys are available here.
Q: Can you search the records of a particular church for my ancestor's name?
Q: Do you have cemetery or burial records?
Q: The Society holds records for a church my relatives attended, but I cannot come to Philadelphia. What should I do?
You may use our Genealogy Research Service: http://www.history.pcusa.org/services/grs/.
We have microfilmed some congregations' records which you may be able to borrow via interlibrary loan.
In other cases, FamilySearch may have microfilm copies of a particular church's records. Visit their website to search their catalog of microfilm holdings, https://familysearch.org/catalog-search, and to locate a Family History Center near you, https://familysearch.org/locations/centerlocator.
If the only copy of a record is here at PHS, and you do not wish to use our Genealogy Research Service, the Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania, http://genpa.org and the Association of Professional Genealogists http://www.apgen.org/directory/index.html, have members who are available to hire for research. You may be able to make arrangements for one of the individuals on these lists to assist you. The society does not specifically endorse any one researcher or service.
Q: Is there information on my ancestor, who was a Presbyterian minister or missionary?
Q: I still can't find what I'm looking for.