Collections

Lancaster County Government Records

LancasterHistory.org has been entrusted with the care of more than 500,000 original local government records, ranging in date from 1729 to 1965. These records may be accessed via the paper finding aid at the Research Desk, by searching the Discovery Tool or with the keyword search ‘government records’ on the online library catalog. To view Library Catalog records. Some records are readily available and some requests will be processed in 2-3 business days, as listed below.

 

Administrators' Accounts

Accounts of administrators, executors or guardians, showing court term and case number; names of decedent, fiduciary, attorney, and judge; assets; receipts and expenditures; balance on hand; dates; amounts; totals; affidavit of fiduciary; dates filed and confirmed by court; and volume and page of recording in Account Book. (1732-1749 filed with Estate Inventories.) 1750-1901. Search this collection by using the Discovery Tool.

Appearance Dockets

Record of civil court proceedings, showing court term and case number, names of plaintiff and defendant, attorneys presiding, type and nature of instrument, cause of action, and disposition. Arranged chronologically by court term. This is an index to the NARRS. 1729-1843.

Auditors' Reports

When disputes over the estate settlement couldn't be settled in court, auditors were appointed to objectively determine the outcome. Reports may include name and place of deceased, additional relatives, real estate holdings, and other items of dispute. These records are not yet cataloged, please see Research Staff for assistance. Requests for these records will be processed in 2-3 business days.  

Bridge Records

Papers filed for construction and repair of bridges. The types of petitions presented to the Court of Quarter Sessions include: petitions for bridge construction and repair, petitions for inspections, and petitions for bridge funds. Other types of items include: specifications, proposals, and contracts for bridge construction and repair; bridge blueprints and plans; correspondence; bills for materials; and bridge condition reports. Many papers show date; court term and case number; names of petitioners, viewers, inspectors, and contractors; costs and fees; location of bridge; and name or number of bridge. The order and report of viewers documents are of particular interest as they usually include a copy of the original petition; the order and names of viewers to inspect the site; the public announcement for the viewers meeting; the report and recommendation of viewers, often with a drawing of the site and surrounding area; and the court decision. Arranged alphabetically, then chronologically, by township location. The date range is 1747 to 1939 but most of the papers date from the 19th Century. Handwritten and typed. Search this collection by using the Discovery Tool. Requests for these records will be processed in 2-3 business days.

Collateral Appraisements

Appraisements of real estate for inheritance tax. Some personal property appraisals are also included.  Appraisals include: name of decedent; location and description of real estate; description of personal property; valuation of real estate and personal property; and assessed tax.  May also include names of heirs.  Arranged chronologically by year, then alphabetically by first letter of decedent's last name.  Handwritten; from 1886, handwritten on printed forms.  Search this collection by using the Discovery Tool.

Commissioners' Orders

Canceled orders issued to treasurer by commissioners for payment by treasurer, showing date, order number, amount, name of payee, purpose, signatures of county commissioners, and endorsement of payee. These include payments for Poor Children, Coroners' Inquests, Court House, and Almshouse. No index. 1812-1901, incomplete. Orders are searchable on the in-house database.

Continuance Dockets

Record of proceedings in the Court of Common Pleas, showing court term and case number, names of the parties and presiding attorneys, cause of action, disposition, and date filed. Arranged chronologically by date filed. 1751-1811.

Defendant Index

Index to the Appearance Dockets, showing names of defendant and plaintiff, court term, and case number. Arranged alphabetically by surname of defendant. 1773-1896.

Divorce Index

Index to divorce proceedings in Appearance Dockets.  Arranged alphabetically by first initial of libellant's surname, then chronologically by court term and year.  Gives case number and date of decree.

Estate Inventories

Inventories of estates showing name of decedent, date, itemized list of goods and chattels, appraised valuation, and signatures and affidavits of appraisers. 1729-1913. Surname, date, and municipality may be searched by using the Discovery Tool.

Estate Vouchers

Receipts and receipt books kept by executors and administrators of decedents' estates, and by guardians of minor children.  These documents show: name of decedent and executor, administrator, guardian; name of payee; date; explanation of payment; and amount.  Arranged alphabetically by year.  Handwritten.  Search this collection by using the Discovery Tool.

Habeas Corpus

A writ of habeas corpus is a procedure for obtaining a judicial determination of the legality of an individual's custody.  This collection includes petitions for writs of habeas corpus and the writs themselves, showing the names of petitioners, persons to be brought to court, nature of dispute or alleged crime, dates of writs and accompanying documents, names of judges, and names of persons that the writs are filed against.  Petitioners include indentured servants, runaway slaves, free African-Americans, convicted prisoners, those awaiting trial, relatives of prisoners, parties in child custody disputes, and relatives of army recruits and draftees.  Arranged chronologically by date of filing.  Handwritten, handwritten on printed forms, and a very few typewritten. This collection is being cataloged, some may be searched by using the Discovery Tool or see the Research Staff for assistance.

Indictments

True bills returned by the grand jury in criminal cases showing date; court term and case number; names of defendant and attorney; date and character of paper; charge; plea; disposition; and date filed. Arranged chronologically by court term. 1744-1902.  Search this collection by using the Discovery Tool.

Liquor License Papers

Petitions and bonds show date; court term and case number; name and address of petitioner; location and type of business; signatures of applicant and supporters; approval; and date filed. Arranged by year filed and then by municipality. No index. 1802-1965, incomplete. 1802-1827 may be searched by using the Discovery Tool. Requests for these records will be processed in 2-3 business days.

Marriage Applications and Consent Forms

Marriage applications completed by the bride and groom contain the names, ages, places of birth, current residences, occupation of groom, if either party had been married before and the results of that union, signatures of applicants, if African-American, and degree of kinship, if any.  Parental consent forms, filed with marriage applications, were completed by parent or guardian of under-age applicants and contain the name of parent or guardian, place of current residence, residence of child or ward, and signature of parent or guardian.  Arranged chronologically by year and then by license number within that year.  Box 2 has additional files for 1895 that were not able to be included in Box 1.  Files may contain both an application and consent form or forms, an application, or a consent form or forms. 1894-1942, incomplete. Search this collection by using the Discovery Tool.

Marriage License Applications

Marriage licenses contain the names of the groom and bride, marital status, and if a parental consent form had been filed if under age.  Arranged chronologically by year and then by license number within that year.  These are photocopies of the originals at the Lancaster County Archives. Search this collection by using the Discovery Tool.

Mechanics' Liens

Liens filed by contractors showing names of parties including owner of property; description of property including location; nature of claim; description of materials and work done on property; volume and page number of recording in Mechanics' Liens Docket; and date filed.  Arranged chronologically by date filed.  1837, 1840-1869.  Search this collection by using the Discovery Tool. Requests for these records will be processed in 2-3 business days.

MISS (Miscellaneous Orphans Court Proceedings)

Abstracts of proceedings and various papers involving property disputes and guardianship, showing court term and case number, names of parties, cause for action, and disposition. 1730-1917. This collection has not been cataloged. Please see the Research Staff for assistance. Requests for these records will be processed in 2-3 business days.

NARRS (Appearance Files)

Papers filed in civil proceedings, showing court term and case number, names of parties, nature of plea, disposition, official seal and signatures, and date filed. Arranged by court term and case number. 1750-1865. This collection has not been cataloged. Please see the Research Staff for assistance. Requests for these records will be processed in 2-3 business days.

Plaintiff Index

Index to the Appearance Dockets. Gives names of plaintiff and defendant, court term, and case number. Arranged alphabetically by surname of plaintiff. 1741-1887.

Quarter Sessions Docket

Record of proceedings in Quarter Sessions Court, showing court term and case number, names of parties, charge, costs, and disposition. Arranged chronologically by court term. 1729-1901, incomplete.

Quarter Sessions Papers

Papers filed in Quarter Sessions Court showing court term and case number, names of parties and attorneys, date of hearing, charge, and date filed. Arranged chronologically by court term. 1745-1901. 1890-1899 may be searched by using the Discovery Tool.

Renunciations

Renunciations are papers filed in the Orphans' Court by executors of an estate who do not wish to administer that estate.  They show the name of the decedent, the decedent's place of residence, the name of the person renouncing administration, the name of the replacement administrator to be appointed, and date.  The relationship between the decedent, the executor, and the administrator is usually shown. Arranged chronologically and then alphabetically within each year. 1762-1906, 1911. Search this collection by using the Discovery Tool.

Tax Lists

Record of assessments on real and personal property showing date; name, address, and occupation of taxable; location, description, and assessed valuation of property; tax rate; and type and amount of tax. Arranged alphabetically by municipality. 1750-1846 are on microfilm in the library. 1847-1939, patrons may use the original records.

Vendue Lists

Lists filed with the Orphans' Court after an estate sale of movable goods, showing: name of deceased owner, municipality, date, name of purchaser, item purchased, and amount paid.  Handwritten. Vendue lists were filed with the Estate Inventories prior to 1776.  Search this collection by using the Discovery Tool.

Wills

Show date and will number, name and address of decedent, names of heirs and executors, terms and conditions, name of testators and witness, affidavit of proof of death and will, attestation of register, and date recorded.  Arranged chronologically by date will was recorded. 1729-1908 are on microfilm in the library.

 

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