Welcome to the Research Center

Collecting and interpreting the history of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania is at the heart of LancasterHistory’s mission. Through primary sources and artifacts from Lancaster’s past, we aim to create context for understanding the story of Lancaster County and its place in state and national history.

The Research Center at LancasterHistory, formerly Lancaster County’s Historical Society, is here to support your research and enhance your understanding of the past. We can help you access books, newspapers, maps, archival documents, photographs, and objects across the historic collections of LancasterHistory.

Visiting the Research Center

Our friendly and professional staff is available to help you navigate the collections and make the most of your visit. Should you have questions or require accommodations of any kind, please let our staff know and we are happy to work with you! You can always contact us by calling (717) 392-4633, ext. 126 or by emailing

The Research Center is located in the main building of LancasterHistory at 230 North President Avenue in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Visitors must abide by our Health & Safety Protocols during their time onsite. Visitors under the age of 16 must be accompanied by an adult during their visit to the Research Center.

Hours & Admission

The Research Center is open to the public Wednesdays - Saturdays from 9:30am - 2pm.

To view upcoming scheduled closures of the Research Center, please see our Exceptions to Hours.

Visitors are strongly encouraged to reserve a timeslot in advance by registering online or by calling LancasterHistory at (717) 392-4633. Timeslots are limited, so walk-in admission is not guaranteed.

Special appointments are required to view Family Bibles, including the Lefevre and Eby Bibles. To make an appointment, please contact or (717) 392-4633, ext. 126 at least two weeks in advance to discuss the Bible viewing with a staff member. Walk-in viewings or late notice appointments may not be accommodated.

Upon successful registration, visitors are encouraged to email in advance of their visit to discuss their research goals and needs while onsite. If you would like Research Center staff to pull items in advance of your arrival, please give at least 24 hours notice.

Click Here to Get Tickets for the Research Center

Policies & Procedures

Upon arrival to LancasterHistory, patrons who wish to conduct research on-site are required to purchase admission at Visitor Services and deposit all bags and outerwear in self-service lockers or the coatroom before entering the library. Patrons are permitted to bring their laptop, pencils, cellphone, files, books, etc. into the library. Patrons are required to complete and sign a Regulations for Collections Use [PDF, 127.25kb] either prior to arrival or upon arrival.

Item Appointments

If you would like to see a particular historic artifact up close that belongs in Special Collections, please schedule an appointment with a LancasterHistory staff member. One such popular item that requires an appointment is the LeFevre Bible.

Please reach out at least two weeks in advance if you would like to schedule an appointment to view the LeFevre Bible or any 3-Dimensional objects from the collection.

  • For inquiries or appointments to view archival materials (such as documents and manuscript items) or Family Bibles, contact the Research Center staff at
  • For inquiries or appointments to view 3-Dimensional objects (such as decorative arts, furniture, paintings, and other objects), contact Dr. James McMahon at

Walk-in viewings or late notice appointments may not be accommodated.

LancasterHistory Collections

All of LancasterHistory’s collections can be searched online at If you want to search within a specific collection, you may do so by using Advanced Search.


The Archives has over 600 manuscript groups that contain the records of individuals, families, businesses, social organizations, and City and County Government of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. These records range in date from the incorporation of the county in 1729 to the present. Letters, diaries, estate papers, business records, trade cards, Civil War muster rolls, love letters, and court records combine to tell the stories of families and communities in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.

LancasterHistory is also a repository for Lancaster County Historic Government records. If you wish to make an appointment to view Lancaster County Historic Government records, please contact the Research Center at (717) 392-4633, ext. 126 or to make an appointment. Admission is complimentary.


Need additional assistance? Please don’t hesitate to reach out to LancasterHistory’s Research Center staff at


The 16,000-volume library includes an extensive collection of materials on Lancaster County, the history of Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania German history, religion, and decorative arts. The map collections include warrant maps for Lancaster County, Lancaster City and County maps, and Sanborn fire insurance maps. There are also extensive collections of church records and Lancaster County newspapers. The 1,040-volume Colonial and Early Federal Era Law Library of Lancaster Attorney Jasper Yeates is a remarkable resource for students of legal history. All collections are discoverable in our online catalog.

Need additional assistance? Please don’t hesitate to reach out to LancasterHistory’s Research Center staff at We also have a selection of research guides to assist with your research.


The photographic collections of LancasterHistory contain more than 90,000 historic images around the County, with over 78,000 of them digitized and available in our online catalog. Included are early tintypes, daguerreotypes, stereographs, cartes de visite, and cabinet cards taken by Lancaster County, PA, nineteenth century photographers. You can also view a list of Lancaster County photographers whose photographs are in the collections.

Need additional assistance? Please don’t hesitate to reach out to LancasterHistory Research Center staff at

Objects, 3-Dimensional

Since 1886, LancasterHistory has been collecting objects for research and exhibition. Today there are thousands of items that pertain to the history of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, the life of President James Buchanan, First Lady Harriet Lane Johnston, Congressman Thaddeus Stevens, Lydia Hamilton Smith and so many more.

Need additional assistance? Please don’t hesitate to reach out to Dr. Jim McMahon, Curator & Director of Collections, at or (717) 392-4633, ext. 112.

If you are looking for information about scanning requests or document orders, please click here.

If you would like to learn more about The Journal of Lancaster County’s Historical Society, please click here.