The Published Pennsylvania Archives consist of 132 vols. of early Pennsylvania government records that include military, tax, land, naturalization, marriage, and baptism records, ship passenger lists, and numerous other items of interest to genealogists and historians. The only effective way to get a handle on this useful set of published archives is to gather together as many of the items listed below, block out about four hours of time, then sit down in front of the complete set of PPA and start doing your homework.
The Archives are located in the Social Science and History Department (SSH) in nine series, LR974.8 P38 through 974.8 P3823a. Some sets are in closed reference; ask a librarian about these. If part of the set you are using is missing or damaged, a second set is located in the Government Publications Department (GPD) Gov Pub STATES P 38-8:. The Archives are also included in the database Footnote, available online only at the Parkway Central Library.
Overall history of PPA: GPA.
Broad overview of the contents of PPA by volume: UPA, GGR, PAK, AHA.
Detailed list of the contents of each volume of PPA: Tables of contents in each volume.
List of major PPA indexes that are part of the set: UPA, SLP.
Major indexes to PPA that are NOT part of the set:
In the back of GPA is a list of names (Sternfeldt to Stinor) that should have been included in the 7th Series, Vol. 5.
Some volumes of the PPA have been used more than the others and have been damaged beyond repair. As a result, reprints of these heavily used volumes have been issued under different titles. If you are using the PPA and see that a volume is missing, ask a librarian about it. They can steer you to the new title. E.g.,:
Some volumes of the PPA are not shelved with the set for other reasons: brittleness, highly susceptible to theft, damage, etc. Ask a librarian about these missing volumes; they are usually stored elsewhere. A good example of this is the little known appendix to Series 3 which contains numerous loose diagrams of land holdings, only with GPD. Gov Pub STATES P 38-8:.
There is no fast way to learn how to use PPA. You simply must do your homework.