Getting started with your research

This is a brief and convenient guide for anyone looking to research their family roots in Franklin County. It covers the most requested types of documents from genealogists and local historians, where to find them, and how to request them.

Deeds and Land Records

Deed Index books within archives begin in 1784 and are an excellent starting point for verifying that your ancestors were indeed in Franklin County. While Archives staff can access Deed Index books, the actual deeds are located at the Register and Recorder’s Office. You will need to contact them or visit to get a copy of the actual deed. Some deeds are available through the Register and Recorder’s LANDEX system, which you can use to search and order deeds. 

The Archives also holds Grantor and Mortgage indexes, as well as, Land Warrants and Rough Draft Surveys. You can browse or search through them in the Archives’ online repository.

Tax Assessment Books

The Archives holds Tax Assessment books dating back to 1848. Tax assessments were done yearly and chronicle the tax base of all of the townships and boroughs. The books lists names of all the freeholders (land owners), tenants, and single men in the county for those years. Books are currently being scanned and indexed and will be made available in our online repository. Some years are currently available in the respository and more are being added every week.

Birth Records

Franklin County began collecting birth records in 1894, and the Archives holds the Birth Register from 1894-1906. For births beginning in 1906, contact the Pennsylvania Division of Vital Records. For births prior to 1894, contact or visit the places listed under the “Local Resources” section on the Research Resources page. They have access to family histories, church records, etc. which might contain additional information.

Marriage Records

Franklin County began collecting marriage records in 1885. The Archives currently houses all marriage records from 1885-1916. Records after 1916 are kept at the Clerk of Courts office. You can contact them at 717.261.3805 to inquire about marriage records after 1916. A number of the earlies Duplicate Marriage Certificates have been scanned and are available in the Archives' online repository. For marriages prior to 1885, contact or visit the places listed under the “Local Resources” section on the Research Resources page. They have access to family histories, church records, etc. which might contain additional information.

Death Records

Franklin County began registering deaths in 1894. The Archives holds death registers from 1894 to 1906. For deaths beginning in 1906, you will need to contact the Pennsylvania Division of Vital Records. Death records are being made available in the online repository.

Estate Papers

The Archives is currently going through and digitizing the County's historical estate records. Visit our online repository to see what is available, new records are being added weekly. For additional information regarding estate papers, you can contact the Register and Recorders has made available online its collection of microfilmed Wills from 1784-1905.

Veterans Records

In the near future, the Archives will be working with the Veterans Affairs office on making available to the public veteran burial records and other records. In the meantime, contact Veteran Affairs for burial records. Also, contact the Register and Recorder’s Office for access to old soldier discharge papers. For additional resources, visit our Research Resources page.

Naturalization Records

Prior to 1906, any county courthouse could grant U.S. citizenship. The process of naturalization consisted of filing at least two papers known as the ‘Declaration of Intention’ and the ‘Petition for Naturalization’. After living in the U.S. for two years an immigrant could file their declaration which was their formal oath renouncing allegiance to all other foreign governments. After waiting another three years, an immigrant filed their petition for naturalization. Naturalization records are available at the Archives.


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Franklin County Archives 
340 N. Second Street
Chambersburg, PA 17201

(717) 261-3154

Business Hours: M - F 8 am - 4:30pm

Closed on weekends and all County-observed holidays.

To better assist you, we recommend making an appointment.