Jewish Genealogy Society of Pittsburgh
Online Pennsylvania Birth and Death Records
New Pennsylvania legislation (SB-361) opened access to death certificates over 50 years old and birth certificates over 105 years old. The actual certificates will be sent to the Pennsylvania State Archives who has a contract with Ancestry.com to scan the records and put them online. When added they will be free to Pennsylvania residents. Scanning was originally set to be completed in early 2014. The latest details on this and related Pennsylvania projects are available at People for Better Pennsylvania Historical Records
While waiting for the scanning/indexing project to complete you may also order non-certified copies by US Mail ($5 each). The process is:
1) Search the Pennsylvania birth indices (1906-1908) or death indices (1906-1962) to obtain a Pennsylvania State File number. These names are in large, non searchable alphabetic PDF files by year. Death certificates in the 1930s seem to be sorted first by Soundex Code and then by given name which makes it easy to find records. It is not clear if this order is true for all years. These files contain tens of thousands of names (ie 200+ pages) so there may be multiple people with the exact same complete name. Thus, you should also check the city name on each record.
2) Once you have the correct name, city, date, and number go to the Pennsylvania State Archives website for information on visiting the archives in Harrisburg or ordering uncertified copies by mail. There is no current online ordering process for uncertified copies. You can still order certified copies online for a higher fee plus $10 per transaction from a State Archive partner!
I have ordered two uncertified copies by US mail (for a
husband and wife who both died in the 1930s) and
received them in two weeks. Both
certificates issued in Pittsburgh PA had the full names of
all four parents and the exact towns of birth in Russia around 1870.
this information (except their father's given name) was available in
any other US source!
Other Pittsburgh area Online Resources
Ancestry.com has Naturalization Records 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) (subscription). Ancestry also holds All Pittsburgh area census records and Ship Landings from most major US ports 1800-1957Historic Pittsburgh City Directories - the largest known digital collection of Pittsburgh City Directories 1815-1945
Historic Pittsburgh - additional online Pittsburgh area resources
Dons List (City Directories, yearbooks, etc)
Pittsburgh Jewish community book (1921)
University of Pittsburgh Yearbooks - online and searchable from 1907 to 1980
Rauh Jewish ArchivesThe Rauh Archives Overview (part of the Heinz History Center and Archives) has a wide variety of historic Pittsburgh and Jewish related resources.
Genealogy Day at Beth El Congregation - Sunday, March 2, 2014, 9 AM - 2 PM
Attend a free one day genealogy program with four sessions led by experienced researchers. Topics include: Resources for German Genealogy, Eastern European Research, Brick Wall Breakdown, and How to Create Family Archives. There will be demonstrations and discussions of online resources. Optional pancakes and eggs breakfast available. Click here for a detailed program flyer (PDF) with directions and RSVP information.
Squirrel Hill Historic Society Talk on Tree of Life Synagogue - Tuesday, March 11, 2014, 7:30 PM
The Squirrel Hill Historic Society will host a talk by David Dinken on "The History of Tree of Life* Or L'Simcha Congregation" on Tuesday, March 11, 2014 at 7:30pm at The Church of the Redeemer, located at 5700 Forbes Avenue near the Squirrel Hill JCC. The Tree of Life is one of Pittsburgh's oldest synagogues and was charted in 1865. In 1907 the congregation built a new and larger synagogue on Craft Avenue in the Oakland section of Pittsburgh. A map of this location appears as an example of the Pittsburgh Historic Mapping Project below.
Pittsburgh Jewish Newspaper Project
Pittsburgh is perhaps the only US
with a large Jewish population to have a
complete offering of freely accessible and searchable
online Jewish newspapers that encompass a span of over 100
years! This project is a result of Pittsburgh's traditional active
Jewish leadership, a generous Jewish community and one of the world's
leading science and engineering Universities located across the street
Pittsburgh's oldest and largest synagogue.
Carnegie Mellon University hosts the database and has online instructions and online video tutorials (click Help/Contact at the top of any page). The search engine is powerful but requires some analysis and planning. Significant family information can be found in birth, marriage and death notices that were published in every issue. You may also find bar/bat mitzvah announcements, confirmations, engagements, military announcements, social events, travel and visitation announcements, business stories, synagogue events. If you get real lucky there are photographs (especially engagements and brides) in every issue that could include a family member.
You can begin your search and get further information on the project from:
2014 IAJGS Conference in Salt Lake City
The 34th IAJGS Conference on Jewish Genealogy will be held in Salt Lake City from July 27 to August 1, 2014. This is one of the top educational opportunities for both experienced and newer Jewish Genealogists. Speaker proposals are accepted through January 31st and conference registration is now open. See details at 2014 IAJGS Conference. Salt Lake City is also the home of The Family History Library which was founded in 1894 and is the largest library of its kind in the world.
Pittsburgh Historic Mapping
If you are looking for streets where your grandparents lived you may have trouble finding them if they aren't there anymore. The Pittsburgh Mapping and Historical Site Viewer helps you find old neighborhoods, streets, and landmarks via overlays of Pittsburgh area maps and aerial photos. Maps with street names are available for 1835, 1855, 1872, 1882, 1890, 1900, 1910, and 1923. Aerial views with tags for key reference objects are available for 1939, 1957, 2005, and 2012. For help in locating streets select a Pittsburgh City Directory from the appropriate time period and use the index of streets that is in the front section. Once you find your street you can slide the time bar to see how the streets have changed over time.
JGS Pittsburgh is no longer meeting on a regular basis.
Pittsburgh ResourcesAllegheny County Genealogy Resources
Marriage records, Wills and Estates
Carnegie Library (Oakland) Genealogy
Heinz History Center and Archives The Heinz Center has many resources available in person at the HHC. There is no inter library lending. The collection of high school yearbooks is especially large. Offerings from schools with large Jewish enrollment include:
Stefan Lorant, PITTSBURGH The Story of an American City [1964, 1975, 1988]
George H. Thurston, Pittsburgh and Allegheny in the Centennial Year. . Click here to read a short excerpt about a 21 year old major in the Virginia military who arrived at the forks of the Ohio River in 1753. 271 pps. Link to download complete book (PDF).
George Thornton Fleming History of Pittsburg and Environs: From Prehistoric Times to the American Revolution. Vol.I, 1922, (574 pages). Link to download Vol I (PDF). Link to download Vol II (464 pages) (see Chapter 22 The Ecclesiastical History, pages 436-441 on Jewish History]
Pittsburgh Area Jewish History
Jacob S. Feldman, The Jewish Experience in Western Pennsylvania A History 1755-1945, , 331pps.
Barbara S. Burstin, Steel City Jews 1840-1915, , 366 pps.
Robert Perlman, From Shtetl to Milltown: Litvaks, Hungarians, and Galizianers in Western Pennsylvania, 1875-1925. 124 pps.
Diane Ashton Jewish Life in Pennsylvania , 75 pps. [read online at Google Books]
Online Genealogy Resources
Jewish GenealogyAJC Digital Archives
Cindi's List - Jewish
Museum of Family History
Routes to Roots
Yizkor Books (NYPL)
One Step ToolsSteve Morse Website
General GenealogyFamilySearch.org (LDS)
Library of Congress
Ship Arrivals (Ellis Island 1892-1924)
Worldcat (search for books at libraries around the world)
Jewish Genealogy Society of
Pittsburgh. Last updated February 26, 2014
Robert Zavos, webmaster website change history