Jewishgen

Jewish Genealogy Society of Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh 1902

Albert Einstein


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.

Available as of June 2014:   1906 - 1944 Death Certificates

Remaining Project Plans:

1945-63 death certificates - November 2014

1906 birth certificates - March 2015

Further information: 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. None of 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 1800-1957   

Familysearch.org (LDS) has Pennsylvania, County Marriages, 1885-1950 and other Pennsylvania records.

Historic 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


Pittsburgh Jewish Newspaper Project

Pittsburgh is perhaps the only US city 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 from Pittsburgh's oldest and largest synagogue.

The project began around 2003 with collaboration between Rodef Shalom Congregation and Carnegie Mellon University (CMU). The effort included six years of scanning and digitizing 8,700 issues with 230,000 pages from 1895 to 2010. The complete offering includes 3 weekly Jewish newspapers and one newsletter that were all published in Pittsburgh:

  • The Jewish Criterion  (1895 - 1962)
  • The Jewish Chronicle (1962 - 2010)
  • The American Jewish Outlook (1934 - 1956)
  • Y-JCC newsletters  (1926 - 1975)
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:

Pittsburgh Jewish Newspaper Project

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

Tree of Life Synagogue 1923
Tree of Life Synagogue on Craft Ave near Hamlet St, 1923 (green circle)- On the full page map you can zoom in on nearby Elsinore Square (blue circle)and see the owner's surname for each house.  Some of these were synagogue members.

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. 


Rauh Jewish Archives

The Rauh Archives Overview (part of the Heinz History Center and Archives) has a wide variety of historic Pittsburgh and Jewish related resources.

Meetings

JGS Pittsburgh is no longer active.



Pittsburgh  Resources

Allegheny 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:
  • Fifth Avenue High School  1916-1976
  • Peabody High School 1914-22, 1925-30, 1932-36, 1938-39, 1941-50, 1952-53
  • Taylor Allderdice 1931, 1933-54, 1956-70, 1976, 1978-79, 1987-88, 1990-97

Pittsburgh History

Stefan Lorant,  PITTSBURGH The Story of an American City [1964, 1975, 1988]

George H. Thurston,   Pittsburgh and Allegheny in the Centennial Year. [1876].  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, [1986], 331pps.

Barbara S. Burstin, Steel City Jews 1840-1915, [2008], 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 [2007], 75 pps.   [read online at Google Books]

Online Genealogy Resources

Jewish Genealogy

AJC Digital Archives

Cindi's List - Jewish

Jewishgen

JOWBR

Museum of Family History

Routes to Roots

Yizkor Books (NYPL)

One Step Tools

Steve Morse Website

General Genealogy

FamilySearch.org (LDS)

Google Books

Library of Congress

MyHeritage.com

National Archives

Ship Arrivals (Ellis Island 1892-1924)

Worldcat  (search for books at libraries around the world)
2003-2014 Jewish Genealogy Society of Pittsburgh.  Last updated  August 21, 2014
Robert Zavos, webmaster          website change history