Libraries & Archives
Rauh Jewish Archives at the John Heinz Pittsburgh Regional History. The Rauh Archivist is Susan Melnick 412.454.6406 or firstname.lastname@example.org. The Julian Falk Library (formerly at the Squirrel Hill JCC) and Rae Barent's library were both donated to the Rauh Jewish Archives.
Rodef Shalom is the oldest Congregation in Western Pennsylvania with origins in the late 1840s. They maintain an Archive which is open to the public by appointment. Holdings include many original documents related to the synagogue and the community as well as a bound copy of the Jewish Criterion from 1902 to 1962. Send email to the archivist or phone 412-621-6566 x131
Family History Center (LDS) 46 School Street, Pittsburgh (Greentree) PA. Many important Pittsburgh area tapes are on permanent file. Phone: 412-921-2115.
The University of Pittsburgh Library holds a wide variety of general and Pittsburgh related Jewish historical material.
Carnegie Library's Pennsylvania Department at the main branch in Oakland holds microfilm copies of major Pittsburgh newspapers and many important records:
They also hold the Western Pennsylvania Genealogy Society (WPGS) genealogical library. The Reference Dept. may do small genealogy related lookups and WPGS will do Research Requests from their publications and records for a small fee.
The Western Pennsylvania Jewish Cemetery Project of the Rauh Jewish Archives is collecting burial records from regional Jewish cemeteries. As of July, 2009 the database held approximately 41,000 burial records from about 75 cemeteries. Click here to see a list of completed cemeteries. These records are also submitted to the International Jewish Cemetery project (JOWBR). As of July 2009 Rodef Shalom Congregation was in process of submitting about 6400 records directly to JOWBR. [4000 records were completed by Kraynek below around 1981]. If you do not find your Pittsburgh area relatives in the online JOWBR database contact Rauh Archivist Susan Melnick.
About a dozen Jewish cemeteries (8,000 tombstones) were indexed around 1981 as part of a series on Pittsburgh area cemeteries. Sharon Lee de Witt Kraynek, Allegheny County, Pa. Cemetery Records. see Clossonpress.com Non circulating sets are also available at several Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh branches.
Several large, active Pittsburgh Jewish synagogues maintain their own cemetery records which have not been released to the public. For more information ontact these directly: BethShalom, Temple Sinai, Tree of Life (Memorial Park cemetery).
If you do not know the cemetery name you can request a Pennsylvania Death certificate which usually includes the cemetery. There is a $9 fee if you know the year or a $34 fee for a 2 to 10 year search. A form can be downloaded directly from the website.
Allegheny County Records
Allegheny County Courthouse previously held birth/death registers (not certificates) over 100 years old but those are now in the Carnegie Library, Main Branch Pennsylvania Room. Marriage records are available in person at the County court house or via mail with a small payment. See sample marriages records from 1908 and 1915. Browsing these in person is recommended because the clerks will usually only find the exact spelling you give and the person could have used various spellings of Hebrew or Americanized names at different times.
Wills/Probate dockets are available only in person. In 2006 the County Birth/Death records over 100 years old are at the main branch of the Carnegie Library. Check the website for Wills and Orphans court for the latest information on records availability.
Naturalizations could be filed in Allegheny County Courts up to 1906 or Federal Courts for any year.
For county filings check the Abstracts of Declarations of Intent and Naturalizations 1798-1906 which is available in a seven volume set published by the Western Pennsylvania Genealogy Society (WPGS). WPGS volunteers may do limited personnel research from its library of local genealogy resources: http://www.wpgs.org/research.htm
For Federal courts Ancestry.com (free at many public libraries) has complete online Naturalization Petitions of the U.S. District Court, 1820-1930, and Circuit Court, 1820-1911, for the Western District of Pennsylvania; (National Archives Microfilm Publication M1537, 437 rolls) Search Ancestry naturalizations