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Pennsylvania History

Library Materials: Pennsylvania History. If you are traveling, check out Pennsylvania Trail of History Guides.

See also Pittsburgh History, History Museums and Historical Sites, and Historical Societies.

Western Pennsylvania

  • Life in Western Pennsylvania 1840-1970
    This website was developed to create greater access to and awareness of the photographic collection of the Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania. It consists of 300 photographs and related newspaper articles.
  • Drake Well Museum
    Information about the birth place of the oil industry from the Drake Well Museum in Titusville, Pennsylvania. Drake Well was drilled in 1859.
  • National Road Heritage Corridor
    Pennsylvania's Historic National Road, this section includes Fort Necessity, General Braddock's Grave, and numerous museums, and historic landmarks.
  • The Story of Oil in Pennsylvania
    History of Drake's well from the Paleontological Research Institution
  • WQED: Rick Sebak Documentaries
    Rick Sebak produces the Pittsburgh History Series.
  • Worlds in Motion: American Indians on the Colonial Frontier
    By integrating the story of eastern American Indians into our nation's history, these lessons and resources share historical knowledge that will dispel a core body of myths and expand perceptions of eastern American Indians and their role in colonial history and the founding of the United States.


  • The Allegheny Ridge Corporation (ARCorp)
    The Allegheny Ridge Corporation (ARCorp) is a private, non-profit corporation which develops, interprets and preserves the historic and cultural resources of the Allegheny Ridge Heritage Area in central/western Pennsylvania. They publish The Discovery Guide, a two-volume, heritage-based educational curriculum designed for primary and secondary students.

  • Centennial Exhibition Philadelphia 1876
    A digital library exhibit from the Free Library of Philadelphia about the celebration of the 100th birthday of the United States in 1876. Officially known as the "International Exhibition of Arts, Manufactures and Products of the Soil and Mine," the Centennial Exhibition was the first major World's Fair to be held in the United States.
  • Commonwealth Libraries: Digital Collections
    Includes collections on Benjamin Franklin, coal mining, farming, Abraham Lincoln, Fort Necessity.
  • Commonwealth Libraries: Pennsylvania Genealogy and History
    Information from the State Library on finding information on genealogy and local history
  • Our Documentary Heritage
    Our Documentary Heritage, a website from the Pennsylvania State Archives, includes images of historical documents, narratives placing them in a regional, state or national context, and, where appropriate, transcriptions of each record as well as helpful links for further research. The documents are presented chronologically: 1681 - 1776 (Colonial Days), 1776 - 1865 (Revolution to Civil War), 1865 - 1945 (Industrial Ascendancy), 1945 - 1995 (Modern Era).
  • Encyclopedia of Pennsylvania Biography
    The Encyclopedia of Pennsylvania Biography was published irregularly from 1914 to 1967 by the Lewis Publishing Company. The Penn State Digital Collection contains 1914-1923.
  • Explore PA History
    At this website from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, you can find resources for students and teachers, arranged by region, by era, by subject, and by story name.
  • Free Library of Philadelphia: Historical Images of Philadelphia
    These images document Philadelphia’s past from 1841 to the early 1900s. They are drawn from the Philadelphiana Collection, which contains over 20,000 historical images of Philadelphia.
  • Gettysburg National Military Park
    This website from the National Park Service includes information on its history during the Civil War.
  • Historical Society of Pennsylvania: History Online
    These online exhibits trace important storylines through the history of Pennsylvania and their role in the fabric of the history of the United States.
  • The Library Company of Philadelphia
    "The Library Company of Philadelphia, founded in 1731 by Benjamin Franklin, is an independent research library which preserves over half a million rare books, prints, and photographs documenting every aspect of American history and culture from the 17th to the 19th centuries."
    Check out their current exhibits to learn more about life in early America.

  • National History Day in Pennsylvania
    May of each year at Pennsylvania State University; State College, PA. This is an annual competition for students in grades 6-12 and the state component of National History Day. The local competition is held at the History Center.
  • Pennsylvania Canal Society
    Pennsylvania's canals were built during the late 18th and early 19th centuries. In the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania 1,356 miles of canals (more than in any other state) linked together her cities, villages, factories, mines and farms. The Pennsylvania Canal Society's mission is to promote the preservation and restoration of existing canal sites and explore their history.
  • Pennsylvania Heritage Regions
    Pennsylvania parks that highlight the industrial development of America.
  • The Pennsylvania Historical Association
    The Pennsylvania Historical Assocation promotes interest in Pennsylvania and Mid-Atlantic history for scholars, museum and historical society and site professionals, and members of the public. It publishes Pennsylvania History as well as the Pennsylvania History Studies Series, which cover a range of fascinating topics in Pennsylvania's history.
    • Pennsylvania History: A Journal of Mid-Atlantic Studies
      This site, created by the Pennsylvania State University Libraries and Press in cooperation with the PHA, is the official digital archive of Pennsylvania History. Here readers will find all back issues of the journal--beginning with Vol. 1 (1934) and continuing up through Vol. 71 (2004).
  • Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission
    This website will lead you to a variety of Pennsylvania historical sources.
  • Penn State: Digitized Colections
    Includes digitized archives of Pennsylvania History: A Journal of Mid-Atlantic Studies; PA's Past: Digital Bookshelf; and Student Research on Pennsylvania History.
  • Philly History
    The Philadelphia City Archive is one of the country's largest municipal archives, with an estimated 2 million photographs that date from the late 1800's. This web site contains a growing collection of those photos.
  • Preservation Pennsylvania
    the Commonwealth's only statewide, private non-profit organization dedicated to the protection of historically and architecturally significant properties.
  • State Museum of Pennsylvania
    The State Museum, located in Harrisburg across from the State Capitol, is a comprehensive professional museum which was established in 1905 to collect and preserve artifacts which illustrate the Commonwealth's history and to interpret its heritage through exhibits and programs. It is administered by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission.
    Web pages created and maintained by the Independence Hall Association whose goal is "to safeguard historic structures in Philadelphia and vicinity and to improve their surroundings." Links to Hope Lodge, the Betsy Ross House and other historic sites.

Surrounding States