Hours, Directions, Visitor Procedures at the Pennsylvania State Archives


Note: The fees information has moved to a new page. Go to the new Fees page.


Wednesday-Friday, 9:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m (no original records pulled from 12.00-1.00pm and call slips for all materials must be submitted by 11:45am prior to the lunch hour or 3:30pm at the end of the day).
Saturday ( microfilm use only ), 9:00 a.m.-12:00 noon,
1:00 p.m.-4:00 p.m.
Closed on all Sundays, Mondays, Tuesdays and State Holidays.

The Pennsylvania State Archives will be CLOSED on the following days:

Wednesday, November 11, 2015
Thursday-Saturday, November 26-28, 2015
Friday-Saturday, December 25-26, 2015
Friday-Saturday, January 1-2, 2016

The Pennsylvania State Archives, with its distinctive marble tower, is located in the capital city of Harrisburg on the southeast corner of North Third and Forster Streets, just north of the State Capitol and adjacent to the State Museum of Pennsylvania.

Entrance to Pennsylvania State Archives, HarrisburgThe entrance to State Archives offices and the Search Room is in the one-story building off the sidewalk leading from the Forster Street side of the corner to the State Museum Building.

A set of three metal gates facing Third Street marks the entrance to the State Archives. Enter the center gate and proceed through the courtyard to the entrance. Upon entering the Archives lobby, a staff member will greet you and be available to assist you.

Parking options are:

1.) Metered street parking on Third and Forster Streets ($.75 for 15 minutes, or $3.00 per hour. Meters run Monday thru Saturday). We suggest that you bring enough change to accommodate your needs as we are unable to provide change. Meters are monitored closely throughout the day. If you choose to park in nearby unmetered spaces, please be aware of restrictions such as street cleaning, snow removal, or permit-required parking for residents during certain hours.

Please note: for patrons visiting the Archives on Saturdays, any spaces that are marked for Commonwealth employee parking around the Capitol Complex are open to anyone for free parking.  That includes North Street (directly on the opposite side of the State Museum from Forster Street), Commonwealth Avenue, and the spaces around Soldiers Grove.    It does NOT apply to spaces marked for Capitol Police – you will find some of those on North Street and in front of the Capitol on Commonwealth Avenue.

2.) One of Harrisburg's many parking garages.  Visit the Harrisburg Parking Authority's page and click on the "Facility Locations" button to see a full list of options. The 7th Street and South Street Garages are physically closest to the Archives, click on the "Click for Map" link on the Parking Facilities page to view the exact locations of the garages.

Keep this phone number handy and call us if you need further directions when you arrive in Harrisburg: (717) 783-3281.

Driving Directions:

From I-83:

Second Street Exit
North on Second Street (1.5 miles)
Right at light onto Forster Street
Archives ahead on right across Third Street

From U.S. Rt. 11/15:

East over Harvey Taylor Bridge into Harrisburg
Straight on Forster Street
Archives ahead on right across Third Street

From I-81:

Front Street exit (south)
South on Front Street into Harrisburg
Left at light onto Forster Street (at Taylor Bridge)
Archives ahead on right across Third Street

From Pennsylvania Turnpike:

Take Harrisburg East Exit #247
Take I-283 North
I-83 South to Harrisburg Second Street Exit
North on Second Street 1.5 miles
Right at light onto Forster Street
Archives ahead on right across Third Street


Search Room Hours

The Pennsylvania State Archives is open Wednesday-Friday, 9:00 am to 4:00 pm; and Saturday 9:00 to 12:00 am and 1:00 to 4:00 pm, excluding State holidays. Original records are not pulled on weekdays from 12.00-1.00pm; only microfilmed records are available on Saturdays.


Quarter-operated lockers are available in the lobby for personal belongings. Items such as coats, hats, handbags, hip packs, briefcases, books, computer cases, and pens are prohibited in the Search Room. A locker will be assigned by the receptionist when registering or upon request. Please bring a quarter to deposit in the locker when you remove the key; the quarter will be returned automatically when the key is replaced.


Visitors using original records in the Manuscript Reading Room will be asked to complete a registration form and show a photo ID with a current address as proof of identification beginning their research. The registration form is available at the receptionist's desk, and when completed, is given to the Search Room archivist.

Visitors using microfilm records in the Microfilm Reading Room are simply asked to sign the register when entering and leaving for the day. No registration form is required; however, if both original records and microfilm are used, a form must be completed before using original records.

Research Procedures

The Archives' Search room is divided into two separate sections, with one designated for the use of records on microfilm, and one for the use of original records. Many of the more commonly used records are found on microfilm, including Census Records, Land Records, County Records, Military Records, Naturalization Records, and Prison Records. Microfilm records are self-service, with microfilm readers and printers available for patron use. Indexes and handouts are available to facilitate research. Personal research materials should be kept with you at all times when using the Microfilm Reading Room.

Original records not found on microfilm are available for research in the Manuscript Reading Room. Call slips are filled out by the patron with the assistance of the archivist on duty, one for each box, volume or loose item requested. Materials are retrieved by staff for the patron, four containers at time, with an emphasis on careful handling and preservation. No pens or additional notes, other than one folder or notebook of reference materials, are permitted in the Manuscript Reading Room. Original records are not pulled on weekdays from 12.00-1.00pm.  Call slips for records to be retrieved before noon must be turned in by 11.45am.

Portable computers and digital cameras (without flashes) are permitted. A "Use of Reproductions" form must be completed when photographs are taken for publication. Portable scanning devices, however, are not allowed; all scanning or photocopying of archival documents must be done by Archives staff. To use other special equipment such as a voice recorder, photography flashes or special lighting, please secure prior permission from an archivist. Special arrangements may need to be made prior to your visit. Free Wi-Fi is available in research areas.

For more detailed information, consult our search room rules.

Microfilm Reader/Printer Copies

Copies of microfilmed records may be made at our self-service microfilm reader/printer machines at the rates noted below. These machines can generate paper copies and they allow the option of transferring images to an approved flash/USB drive that must be purchased on site. Payment for copies must be with cash in the exact amount or by check or money order payable to the "Commonwealth of Pennsylvania." PLEASE NOTE: The staff cannot make change for bills larger than twenty dollars. 

Archival Assistance

An archivist will be available in the Manuscript Reading Room for assistance in locating and retrieving materials and to provide general reference guidance. The Microfilm Reading Room is designed to be self-service. Guides and handouts explaining many of the commonly-used records on microfilm are available to assist in research.

Finding Aids

Most State Archives descriptive listings and topical research guides are available on our website, and you can maximize your research time here by consulting these online resources at home, prior to your visit. Paper copies of guides and handouts are available in both the Microfilm and Manuscript Reading Rooms. Guides to the microfilm are found on the tables in the Microfilm Reading Room and on the top of the film cabinets. Select published sources are located on the reference bookshelves. Additional published materials, including county and family histories, are available at the State Library.


Children are welcome at the Archives; those under the age of 14 should be accompanied by an adult. Disruptive children (or adults) may be asked to leave.

Food and Drink

No food, drink, or smoking is permitted in the lobby or research areas. A water fountain is located in the lobby.

Rest Rooms

Rest rooms are found in the locker areas at either end of the lobby.

Which Reading Room to Choose

Visitors may make use of both the Microfilm and Manuscript Reading Rooms as needed, although different registration and security procedures apply to the two rooms. Here is a general breakdown of what types of materials are available in each area:





Note: The fees information has moved to a new page. Go to the new Fees page.