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Pennsylvania Minorities

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United States > Pennsylvania

For a brief discussion of the many minorities who immigrated to Pennsylvania, see the "Emigration/Immigration" article.

Important sources for minorities are:


For a history of Acadians from Nova Scotia who came to Pennsylvania in 1755, see Simone Vincens, Les Indomptes (Family History Library book 974.8 F2v). This includes information for about 400 individuals. The text is in French.

African AmericansEdit

An important history is Edward Raymond Turner, The Negro in Pennsylvania: Slavery-Servitude-Freedom, 1639-1861 (New York, NY: Negro Universities Press, 1969; Family History Library book 974.8 F2t). It includes an extensive bibliography.

See also Charles L. Blockson, African Americans in Pennsylvania: A History and Guide(Baltimore, Maryland.: A DuForcelf book published by Black Classic Press, 1994; Family History Library book 974.8 F2bL).

A brief but helpful reference to sources at the State Archives is David McBride, The Afro-American in Pennsylvania: A Critical Guide to Sources in the Pennsylvania State Archives (Harrisburg, PA.: Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, 1979; Family History Library book 974.8 A1 no. 199).

A potential source for information about individuals is Pennsylvania Abolition Society (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania), Manumissions and Indentures, ca. 1780-1840, Arranged by Name of Master or Slaveholder (on 7 Family History Library films beginning with 1731983). Records are from various eastern states, including New Jersey, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Georgia, and Virginia.

Freedman's Savings and Trust Company signature cards or registers may list a person's former masters, birth date, birthplace, occupation, residences, death information, parents, children, spouses, or siblings. Pennsylvania had one branch of this bank at Philadelphia from 1870 to 1874.

The signature registers for this branch are listed as Freedman's Savings and Trust Company (Washington, D.C.), 1865-1874, Registers of Signatures of Depositors in Branches of the Freedman's Savings and Trust Company, 1865-1874 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives, 1969; Family History Library film 928587). Depositors are in order by account number.

The separate Freedman's Bureau records do not normally name relatives or give genealogical information. They can be found in the Subject Search of the Family History Library Catalog under FREEDMEN - PENNSYLVANIA.

Pennsylvania began the gradual emancipation of slaves in 1780. Slaves are sometimes mentioned in deeds, in wills, in tax records, and in court order books. A few parish registers (Pennsylvania Church Records) list slaves who attended church with their masters.

The "septennial" census (see Pennsylvania Census), beginning in 1800, often listed the name, age, and sex of slaves and the names of slave owners.


Meyen, Emil. Bibliography on the Colonial Germans of North America: Especially the Pennsylvania Germans and their Descendants. Reprint. Baltimore, Maryland.: Genealogical Publishing, 1982. (Family History Library book 970 F23me.)

A good history is William T. Parsons, The Pennsylvania Dutch: A Persistent Minority (Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1976; Family History Library book 974.8 F6p). It has an excellent bibliography of Pennsylvania German sources.

A history of events before 1782 is H. Frank Eshleman, Historic Background and Annals of the Swiss and German Pioneer Settlers of Southeastern Pennsylvania and of their Remote Ancestors from the Middle of the Dark Ages, Down to the Time of the Revolutionary War . . . : With Particular Reference to the German-Swiss Mennonites or Anabaptists, the Amish and Other Non-resistant Sects, 1917, reprint (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1969; Family History Library book 974.81 F2se film 928291 item 8). It is organized chronologically by year.

A good history of modern times is Homer Tope Rosenberger, The Pennsylvania Germans, 1891-1965 Frequently known as the "Pennsylvania Dutch"([S. l.]: H. T. Rosenberger, 1966, Lancaster, PA.: Printed for the Pennsylvania German Society; Family History Library book 974.8 B4pg v. 63). It includes a brief account of events before 1891. It also has a description of "Outstanding Collections of Pennsylvania German Material" on pages 508-62.

A helpful genealogy of a small group of Pennsylvania Germans called "Schwenkfelders" is Samuel Kriebel Brecht, The Genealogical Record of the Schwenkfelder Families: Seekers of Religious Liberty Who Fled from Silesia to Saxony and Thence to Pennsylvania in the Years 1731 to 1737 (New York, NY: Rand McNally, printed for the Board of Publication of the Schwenkfelder Church, Pennsburg, Pennsylvania, 1923; Family History Library book 974.8 F2b; film 1266718.) This book is a revision of a work done in 1879.

A helpful index is Card Index to Pennsylvania Germans in the Magazines: Proceedings and Addresses (Pennsylvania German Society);Pennsylvania Dutchman; PGFS or Pennsylvania German Folklore Society; Penn-Germania; the Pennsylvania-German; Historical Review of Berks County; Reprint, the Morning Call; Some Copied Bible Records, 1713-1915, and News Clippings. Microfilm of the original records is available at Franklin and Marshall College, Lancaster, Pennsylvania (on 38 Family History Library films beginning with 1204985).


Stapleton, Ammon. Memorials of the Huguenots in America, With Special Reference to Their Emigration [sic] to Pennsylvania. 1901; Reprint: Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1969. (Family History Library film 1321463 item 16.)


Dunaway, Wayland Fuller. The Scotch-Irish of Colonial Pennsylvania. (Family History Library book 974.8 F2dw; fiche 6046742.) It includes a helpful bibliography.


Browing, Charles Henry. Welsh Settlement of Pennsylvania. Microreproduction of original published: Philadelphia, PA.: William J. Campbell, 1912. (Family History Library film 52876.)

Glenn, Thomas Allen. Merion in the Welsh Tract: With Sketches of the Townships of Haverford and Radnor, Historical and Genealogical Collections Concerning the Welsh Barony in the Province of Pennsylvania, Settled by the Cymric Quaker in 1682. Norristown, PA.: Herald Press, 1896. (Family History Library book 974.81 D2g; film 833377.)

Glenn, Thomas Allen. Welsh Founders of Pennsylvania. 2 vols. Oxford: Fox, Jones and Co., 1911-1913. (Family History Library book 974.8 F2g; film 496948 items 1-2.)