Genealogical Resources at the Free Library

Major Genealogical Resources

  • How-to genealogy books, especially those for beginners and those concerned with ethnic or national-group genealogy.
  • Standard genealogy reference books, especially those dealing with Philadelphia and the Delaware Valley.
  • Local ward and fire insurance maps, from around 1859 to the present.
  • Gazetteers for all countries.
  • Local directories of all kinds.
  • Biographies and collective biographies.
  • Lists of published genealogies.
  • Local newspapers, from 1719 to the present.
  • The federal census of Philadelphia 1790 - 1930, with either indexes or enumeration district descriptions.
  • Government publications. The Free Library is a Government Depository Library

Guides to the Collection

See Researching Your Family History at the Parkway Central Library for a brief summary of Free Library resources and search strategies. This four-page handout is available at the reference desks in the Newspapers and Microfilm Center (abbreviated NEWS), the Social Science and History Department (SSH), and the lobby, and as "Genealogy 101" in the Genealogy section of our homepage.

Point of Contact for More Information

Social Science and History Department, Free Library of Philadelphia, 1901 Vine Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103. (215) 686-5396
Email to:

Generally, questions concerning city directories and newspapers should be directed to the Newspapers and Microfilm Center (NEWS) at 215-686-5431. All other questions should be directed to the Social Science and History Department.