The State Library's general collections reflect its basic missions. As the major research library service the Commonwealth government, the Library maintains extensive collections in subject areas related to official state business and has been particularly strong in the fields of public administration, economics, political science, statistics, education, public services, as well as North American, United States and Pennsylvania history. Unique strengths include:
Pennsylvania Newspapers The State Library’s collection of historic and current newspapers is comprised of more than 100,000 microfilm reels and over 3,000 bound volumes. Currently, the State Library receives approximately 126 newspapers, including all the major dailies published in Pennsylvania and at least one newspaper from each of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties. Electronic databases offer additional titles. The State Library’s earliest Pennsylvania newspaper is a December 22, 1719 issue of the American Weekly Mercury. This newspaper is reputed to be the first newspaper published in the middle colonies, and the fourth in order of time, published in America. It is preserved on microfilm. The State Library’s online catalog/PILOT furnishes more detailed information on our newspaper holdings. To search for a particular newspaper in PILOT, please follow the newspaper search instructions. Access to historic newspapers may be restricted due to their condition. Some of the State Library’s microfilm copies of newspapers are available for use on-site or through interlibrary loan. The State Library of Pennsylvania continues to add digitized copies of historical Pennsylvania newspapers to the Access Pennsylvania Digital Repository. See the Directory of Digitized Pennsylvania Historic Newspapers which includes titles that are freely accessible.
The Genealogy and Local History collection consists of a wide variety of indexes, genealogies, state and county histories, atlases, land warranty maps, ship lists, and compilations of church and cemetery records, as well as the Pennsylvania Federal Census records on microfilm. Items of interest to genealogists and historians include the published Pennsylvania Archives series, regimental histories (primarily from the Revolutionary and Civil Wars), research guides for ethnic and minority groups, and guides to genealogical research in foreign countries.