Chester County Archives and Records Services, Pennsylvania
Chester County is located in southeastern Pennsylvania. West Chester is the county seat. The Chester County Archives and Records Services has made a number of indexes available on its website. Click on the Online Indexes link in the site’s contents list to access them. You will need free Adobe Acrobat Reader to view these indexes. The following is an overview of many of the different types of records in the their extensive collection of online resources.
Birth, Marriage and Death Records
The indexes in this collection of databases include Births, Deaths and Marriages, 1852–1855; Birth Registers, 1893–1906; Coroners' Records, 1720–1957; Deaths, 1893–1907; Delayed Birth Records, 1857–1906; Divorces, 1804–1902; Marriage Contracts, Separations and Certificates, 1690–1890; Marriage License Applications, 1885–1930; Proof of Death Registers, 1875–1893; and Veterans' Burials, 1885–1979. The data fields in the Birth Registers, 1893–1906, index include last name, first name, middle name, place of birth, year, and volume and page number. For the Chester County Divorce Records, 1804 – 1902, the data fields are husbands last name, husband’s first and middle name and prefix/suffix, wife’s first name, year, court term, case number, docket number, page number, and grounds for divorce
Civil Court and Debt Related Records
The indexes in this collection include Affidavits, Depositions, Interrogatories, 1781–1834; Assigned Estates, 1821–1942; Equity Cases, 1844–1940; Inquisitions and Executions, 1700–1800; Insolvent Debtor's Petitions & Bonds, 1724–1850; and Letters of Attorney, 1774–1845.
Criminal and Prison Records
The indexes in this collection include Gaol (Jail) Keepers' Docket, 1804–1816; Languishing Prisoner Petitions, 1718–1790; Oyer & Terminer, 1802–1910; Prison Discharges, 1843–1872; and Quarter Sessions Indictments, 1681–1870. The Languishing Prisoner Petitions database contains records of petitions submitted to the court by prisoners who were seeking to be released from jail. The data fields in the database include last name, first name, charge, month, year, and comments. Comments include descriptive information, name of petitioner, servant status, and spouse information.
The indexes in this collection include British Depredations, 1777–1782; Deeds, 1688–1830; Inquisitions and Executions, 1700–1800; Letters of Attorney, 1774–1845; Mechanics' Liens, 1828–1868; Petitions for Sheriff's Deeds, 1728–1835; and Sheriffs' Deeds, 1773–1875.
The indexes in this collection include Board of Relief Records (Civil War), 1861–1865; Civil War Bounty Records, 1862–1865; Civil War Equalization Bounty & Pension Records, 1863–1868; Veterans' Burials, 1885–1979; and World War I Servicemen Records (County War Aid Association), 1917–1921.
There are two indexes to naturalization records filed in Chester County. The first covers the years 1798–1906 and second covers 1906–1935. The data fields in the earlier index are last name, first name, middle name, county, declaration year, declaration docket information, petition year, petition docket information, petition number and declaration number. The data fields in the 1906 – 1935 index include last name, first name, middle name, birth place, date of naturalization, date of petition, book and page number, petition number, date of declaration, and record of declaration.
Occupation and Licensing Records
The indexes in this collection include Chester County Commissioners, 1711–2008; Dog Register, 1855–1912; Peddler's Petitions, 1722–1869; Professional Registers, 1683–1970 Registry of Automobiles, 1903–1905; and Tavern Petitions, 1700–1923. If your ancestors owned a dog and lived in Chester County between 1855 and 1912 your might be able to learn what breed of dog they owned by looking and the Dog Register index. The data fields in the database include owner’s last name, owner’s first name, date of registration, residence, breed, entry number, and page number.
The indexes in Pauper Records collection include Board of Relief Records (Civil War), 1861–1865; Poor School Children Records, 1810–1841; Poorhouse Records, 1800–1910; and Poorhouse Bound Apprentices, 1801–1825.
Probate, Estate and Guardianship Records
The indexes in this collection include Feme Covert Records, 1832–1848; Orphans' Court Bonds, 1746–1893; Orphans' Court Estates, 1714–1923; Register's Court, 1795–1917; and Wills and Administrations, 1714–1923.
Servant and Slavery Records
The indexes in this collection include Fugitive Slave Records, 1820–1839; Indentured Servants & Apprentice Records, 1700–1855; Negro Servant Returns, 1788–1821; and Slave Manumissions. The Manumissions index is sorted by slave and by master. Most of the manumissions took place prior to the mid–1830s. The data fields in the index include last name, first name and age of the slave, first name, last name and residence of the owner, book number, year, and page number.
Tax and Census Records
The indexes in this collection include Provincial Tax Minutes, 1756–1778; Septennial Census Returns, 1793–1856; Tax Discounts, 1785–1823; Tax Indexes, 1715–1799; Tax Index, 1805; and Tax Index, 1890.
* An condensed version of this article, with fewer index descriptions, appeared in the May 16 edition of The Weekly Genealogist newsletter.