As you are compiling some family research, sometimes all you need is a small clue, a hint of an ancestor’s birth date or location to put you on the right track. When different counties within a state make available their records more conveniently online, even if they are just an index (a listing), it can be a great assistance. Once you know a date and location you can then order copies of those actual vital records from the county at a small fee.
The county archives of Delaware in the State of Pennsylvania has made available a good index collection of their vital records. This county has a history that dates back to 1789 and was part of Chester County prior to that date. It is a region rich in history because it is so close to Philadelphia, PA., the states of New Jersey, Maryland and Delaware. Its population in 1800 was nearly 13,000; in 1850 almost 25,000 and in 1870 nearly 40,000; so quite sizable over the years. Many of our early ancestors may have lived in and around this area in the 19th century.
Scrolling down the archives’ home site is a vast listing of the available records in the Delaware County Archives. Most are in the form of an index covering certain time periods and are linked to view online.
The sections of special interest for most family history researchers would include:
Recorded discharges and any deaths of those living in a county home from 1806 to 1822, 1827-1829, 1834, 1837, 1839-1840, 1847-1854, 1856-1873 and 1889 to 1929. The missing years are due to lost of those records. A county home were those unable to care for themselves or have a place to live; including orphans, widows and the poor. There is an easy search box and it would be best to use just a surname, even a common one. Given names can be different than you are looking for or just initials. This index of records has the names, age, known residence, date they entered the county home and when they were discharged or if they died there. Sometimes some addition information is included like when a child was bound over to a responsible person to be a house worker or apprentice.
There is an index of birth records for Delaware County for 1852 to 1854 and 1893 to 1906, plus the city of Chester for 1889 to 1906. Here again the search box is easy, place a name and those located will have the full birth date and birth location.
Included are marriage records for 1852-1854, 1885-1935; where just a groom’s name or bridges can be listed. Full names for the couple are written, a marriage date and a certificate number. The death records cover 1852-1854 and 1893 to 1906. Here will be the full name, date for death and age (for most listings) and the death location in the county. Having the age is very useful to determine when they were born to confirm it is the right person. Some listings even have what the person died of, their occupation, marital status and for children, their parent’s names.
The section on criminal cases from 1790 to 1890 is fascinating. These are the original court proceedings for cases in Delaware County. Use the simple surname search to begin. Here will list the individual’s full name, what the charge was against them, case number, the date court was held in the case and the docket-page numbers. Search by a first name solely especially for an females where you might not know a married or maiden name. Just don’t be surprised on what you might find. This goes with the section on inmates in the county prison from 1873 to 1917.
To see if any dentists or doctors were in the family from Delaware County, the database index has the medical registry from 1881 to 1929. It provides where they practiced and from what school they graduated.
Being so close to the city of Philadelphia, it is good to check their index of naturalization records. These are Declaration of Indention and the Naturalization Petition from 1795 to 1990. It will have the full names, the date they submitted their documents and from what nation they were a native citizen.
For the Wills filed with the County Register of Wills the dates available are 1789 to 1929. A listing of full names, a registration number and the complete date for the Will are part of the index.
Several additional listings of other vital records are on the site; all worth reviewing.