New Online Databases Available for
Lancaster County, Pennsylvania

The New England Historic Genealogical Association recently reported that a new series of related online databases have been made available to researchers through the Lancaster County Historical Society and the Lancaster Mennonite Historical Society.

Hellenic Historical and Genealogical Association has reviewed the utility of these online databases for research on Greek subjects. Browsing through a small portion of one of the obituary databases, we spotted quite a few Hellenic surnames: NICHOLAOU, PALLAS, PANGAS, PAPADIMITRIOU, PAPADIMITRIS, PAPADOPOULOS, PAPAVASILION, PAPPAS, PARIKAS, PASSAS, PATAKI, PATINOS, PATOUNAS, PAVLAKIS, PAVLATOS, PAVLIDES, PAZAKIS, PELANIS, PETRAKOS, AND PETRATOS. This quick review leads us to believe that the database may have some limited usefulness for Hellenic research. But researchers should note that most of the deaths listed online were relatively recent--taking place in the last couple of decades--as opposed to records dating to the beginning of the twentieth century when most Greek immigrants arrived. Recent records are not as likely to offer new information for Hellenc family history research. Even so, we believe that the appearance of so many Greek surnames is positive and may offer support for research by confirming data gathered elsewhere.

Likewise, the newspaper collection similary offers some possibility of enhancing Greek family history research. A quick search through one of the databases yielded several hits for the surname PAPPAS, highlighting the name in yellow on original images of the newspaper's pages. For this particular name, PAPPAS, the search engine offered interesting business advertisements for the Pappas' candy store.  Greek-American researchers may thus find these databases useful, both the newspaper and obituary databases.

Lancaster County Historical Society


Lancaster County's (Pennsylvania) Historical Society now offers a number of its collections to online visitors. Links on right-hand side of the group's home page connect researchers with a number of local newspapers, including Civil-War era papers, maps, histories, obituaries and other useful databases.

The historical society is a community-based, non-profit organization established to “educate the public on the history of Lancaster County and its place in the history of Pennsylvania and the United States, to advance the missions of regional historical organizations, and to promote the acquisition, preservation, and interpretation of resources representing the history of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania within the broader context of state and national history, including the life and legacy of America's fifteenth president, James Buchanan, and to preserve and maintain Wheatland, his home.”


The newspaper collection contains five county newspapers as well as Lancaster County city directories. Access to the online collections is made available due to the Lancaster County Historical Society’s collaboration in the Lancaster County Digitization Project. The Lancaster City and County directories database covers the period from 1843 through 1900. The newspapers database comprises five Lancaster County newspapers that cover various periods between 1830 and 1950. The newspapers are: The Lancaster Examiner & Herald (1834 – 1872); The Columbia Spy (1830 – 1889); The Intelligencer Journal (1848 – 1871); The New Holland Clarion (1873 – 1950); and The Lancaster Farmer (1868 – 1884). You can search all six of the databases together or search them one at a time. Use the “Click Here” link to find out more about the individual databases and how to search them. Please be advised that these databases use a variety of search tools. It is important to read the instructions for each database prior to starting your search.

Pennsylvania Civil War Newspapers

This collection is a project of the Pennsylvania State University Libraries. Database users may search the full text of newspapers from nineteen different communities during the period from 1850 to 1870. The communities include Altoona, Bellefonte, Chambersburg, Clearfield, Columbia, Erie, Gettysburg, Greencastle, Harrisburg, Huntingdon, Lancaster, Lebanon, Lehigh, Marietta, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Reading, Waynesboro, and Wellsboro.

Lancaster County History

This section of the website deals with several different areas related to the history of Lancaster County. You will find a map of Lancaster County Townships and Boroughs, a page detailing the origin of Lancaster County Township and Borough Names, a history of the earliest churches, and an article on the history of Lancaster County.

Oral Histories

In this section you will find transcriptions and recordings of oral history interviews of a number of members of the community, under the Community Sounding link. High school students, who were trained by historical society staff, conducted the interviews. You will also find interviews with veterans, under the Veterans History Project link, and a couple of other interviews under the General Collection link.

Lancaster Mennonite Historical Society

Obituary Database

The Lancaster Mennonite Historical Society library has a large collection of obituary clippings and death records from local newspapers and other sources in its holdings. Most of the clippings are from the Lancaster Intelligencer Journal and cover the period from 1970 to the present. There are also older records in the collection extending back to the late 1700s. Click on the links to view the indexes to the records. Because the indexes are in PDF format, you will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to view them. The data fields in the index include the name of the deceased; year, month, and day of death; page number; newspaper date; age; and source.

(Posted 04 April 2010.)

HCS readers can view other genealogical articles and releases in our extensive, permanent archives at the URL For more information about genealogical methodology, especially in researching Hellenic ancestry, see especially the main genealogy page or the section about Hellenic Historical and Genealogical Association at the URL

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