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Pennsylvania Public Records

Pennsylvania Public RecordsAs the second state to enter the Union in 1787, Pennsylvania boasts a long and illustrious piece of American history today. This state is the seventh largest in the county in terms of total population, with more than 12.7 million residents estimated in 2011. The state is home to a multitude of historical landmarks, as well as a wealth of recreational opportunities. To learn more about the people who have lived and died in the state, Pennsylvania public records disclose significant facts about many of the state’s past and present residents. These documents offer a glimpse into the population that made Pennsylvania the historic hub that it is today. 

Finding Pennsylvania government public records involves first knowing where these documents are stored. Fortunately, the state offers plenty of good resources to help those in search of vital records for academic, genealogical or personal purposes. With a history that dates back long before the official formation of this country, records on file at Pennsylvania offices may extend centuries, with many carefully preserved to honor the rich history of the area. To find Pennsylvania vital records today, keep the following tips in mind:

  • Many of the vital records for the state are stored at the Pennsylvania Department of Health.
  • These PA public records are accessible in person, by mail and online.
  • Access to some Pennsylvania public records may be restricted under state law.
  • Archived historical documents are also stored at the Pennsylvania State Archives.
  • Marriage and divorce records for Pennsylvania are found at the county office where the event took place.
  • Rules Governing a Pennsylvania Public Records Search

    Like many states across the country today, Pennsylvania has implemented laws about who can access some public records to protect the identities of those names on the documents.  Pennsylvania birth certificates are restricted to the person on the document (if over 18), immediate family members, legal representatives or powers of attorney.

    Pennsylvania death records face similar restrictions, available only to immediate family members or legal representatives of the deceased. Extended family may also gain access to those records if they can prove direct descent to the deceased. Power of Attorney papers are not valid for retrieval of death certificates usually, since a Power of Attorney ceases upon the death of the individual.

    Other Pennsylvania public records are open to the general public, including most of the archived files available at the Pennsylvania State Archives. PA birth and death certificates with dates of 1961 and prior are also available to the public, and these records can be found at both the Department of Health and the State Archives.

    Access to Pennsylvania marriage and divorce documents is at the discretion of the county courthouse where the document is held; however, these documents do not face the same restrictions as birth and death records typically.

    Pennsylvania Public Records Locations

    A Pennsylvania public records search typically starts with the Pennsylvania Department of Health. This office holds all Pennsylvania birth and death records dating from 1906 to the present. While the office does not currently store marriage and divorce records, it does provide contact information for the various county courthouses throughout the state to make it easier for those in search of these documents. Searches and copies of those documents must be requested from the appropriate county courthouse.

    In addition, archived files are available through the Pennsylvania State Archives, which holds a wealth of historic information about the state. This office has original copies of birth and death certificates dating prior to 1961, as well as records from previous wars, land records and census records. Searches of these files can be initiated in person, by mail or fax or through email. Keep in mind there are charges for the time spent on research, as well as for the copies of the documents you request.

    Searching Public Records Online in Pennsylvania

    When it comes to public records searches in Pennsylvania, many want to be able to conduct their business via any location around the globe. This is where Pennsylvania online records come into play. The Department of Health offers online access to vital records through a third-party service known as VitalChek. This company provides online vital records for many states across the country, allowing interested individuals to search for records from any location and order copies of documents that they can receive in as little as two days. There is an addition fee to access the VitalChek service.



     
    State of Pennsylvania Resources & Statistics
    Separator Line

    Population:
    12,279,448

     
    Under 18:
    2,719,786

     
    Over 65:
    1,660,889

     
    Employed:
    7,987,295

     
    Land in Square Miles:
    44,816.61

     
    Acres of Farms:
    7,336,745

     
    Births:
    145,383

     
    Deaths:
    129,532

     
    Infant Deaths:
    977

     
     
    Murder:
    701

     
    Forcible Rape:
    3,478

     
    Robbery:
    18,837

     
    Assault:
    27,984

     
    Total Violent Crime:
    51,782

     
    Burglary:
    58,620

     
    Larceny \ Theft:
    218,941

     
    Motor Vehicle Theft:
    22,471

     
    Total Property Crime:
    300,032

     
    Pennsylvania Public Records Locations
    State Police Headquarters
    Crash Reports Unit
    1800 Elmerton Ave
    Harrisburg, PA 17110-9758
    Phone:
    717-783-5516










    Attorney General's Office
    Strawberry Square, 16th Floor
    Harrisburg, PA 17120
    Phone:
    717-787-3391

    Fax:
    717-787-8242










     
    PA Department of Health
    Division of Vital Records
    PO Box 1528
    New Castle, PA 16101-1528
    Fax:
    724-652-8951










    Corporation Bureau
    Department of State
    PO Box 8722
    Harrisburg, PA 17105-8722
    Phone:
    717-787-1057

    Fax:
    717-783-2244










     
    State Police
    Central Repository -164
    1800 Elmerton Ave
    Harrisburg, PA 17110-9758
    Phone:
    717-783-5494

     
    717-783-9973

    Fax:
    717-772-3681










    Department of Health
    Division of Vital Records
    PO Box 1528
    New Castle, PA 16101-1528
    Fax:
    724-652-8951










     
    Department of Transportation
    Driver Record Services
    PO Box 68695
    Harrisburg, PA 17106-8695
    Phone:
    717-391-6190










    Commonwealth Diploma Program
    GED Office
    333 Market St 12th Fl
    Harrisburg, PA 17126-0333
    Phone:
    717-787-6747

     
    717-787-5532










     
    Governor's Office
    225 Main Capitol Bldg
    Harrisburg, PA 17120
    Phone:
    717-787-2500

    Fax:
    717-772-8284










    Fish & Boat Commission
    Fishing License Division
    PO Box 67000
    Harrisburg, PA 17106
    Fax:
    717-705-7931










     
    Pennsylvania Department of Corrections
    Bureau of Standards and Security
    PO Box 598
    Camp Hill, PA 17001-0598
    Fax:
    717-346-5622

    Records:
    717-730-2721










    Pennsylvania General Assembly
    Legislative Reference Bureau
    Main Capitol Bldg, Room 641
    Harrisburg, PA 17120









     
    State Police Bureau of Records and Ident.
    Megan's Law Unit
    1800 Elmerton Ave
    Harrisburg, PA 17110-9758
    Phone:
    717-783-4363

     
    866-771-7130

    Fax:
    717-705-8839










    PA Historical & Museum Commission
    Bureau of Archives & History
    350 North St
    Harrisburg, PA 17120
    Fax:
    717-787-4822










     
    Administrative Office of PA Courts
    PO Box 229
    Mechanicsburg, PA 17055
    Phone:
    717-795-2097

    Fax:
    717-795-2013










    UCC Division
    Department of State
    PO Box 8721
    Harrisburg, PA 17105-8721
    Phone:
    717-787-1057 Ext. 3

    Fax:
    717-783-2244










     
    Department of Transportation
    Vehicle Record Services
    PO Box 68691
    Harrisburg, PA 17106-8691
    Phone:
    717-391-6190










    Board of Commissions, Elections, & Leg.
    Voter Registration
    210 N. Office Building
    Harrisburg, PA 17120
    Phone:
    717-787-5280

    Fax:
    717-705-0721










     
    Bureau of Workers' Compensation
    Physical Records Section
    1171 S Cameron St, Rm 324
    Harrisburg, PA 17104-2501
    Phone:
    717-772-4447

    Fax:
    717-705-0940