FAQ

BETA VERSION

What does BETA mean and what is different about this site?

It means that the website is subject to change with little or no notice. It may be unavailable from time to time as developers make necessary changes and improvements to it. Some new features that we hope you’re excited about include: a much improved image viewer for photographs, texts, maps and manuscripts; the ability to search ALL digitized content regardless of format; the return of relevancy ranking for search results; and the ability to narrow your search results by filtering over subjects, format, source, collection, etc. The site will remain in BETA for the time being with the old Historic Pittsburgh site remaining online.

 

What other improvements are you working on?

This BETA site is far from finished. We still need to re-OCR all the textual content to enable your search results to appear in the texts. Once completed, your search term will appear to be highlighted in yellow on the page image. Until then you cannot search inside a book. We have LOTS of new content to add to the site so we are working on "ingesting" it. We'd like you to be able to download public domain content so we're working to offer you this ability too. We'd like to offer improved browsing of the maps on the site so this is on our to-do list. Plus there's enhanced features and functionality that we'd like to experiment with so stay tuned. Thanks for your patience!

We'd also love to hear your thoughts on your experience and suggested improvements or changes for this new site. Please Contact Us.

 

SEARCH TIPS

How can I limit my search so I do not retrieve so many results?

If you enter more than one word in the search box, such as Brandt School Road, you will receive results that contain "Brandt" and "School" and "Road." This search will return over 78,000 results, but note that the more relevant results are displayed first (Brandt School Road.). If you ONLY want to find an exact match, then place quotes around your search term like this: "Brandt School Road". This will return 129 results.

 

REPRODUCTIONS

Can I order a reproduction of something I see on Historic Pittsburgh? If so, how?

Yes! Our Historic Pittsburgh partners are gladly willing to work with you to obtain a physical reproduction of an image. If you will Contact Us we will point you to the right repository. Prices and policies will vary from institution to institution, and only the image's owner can grant permission for its reproduction.

 

How can I acquire a digital file of a map, photographic image or book that I would like to use for teaching purposes, publication, or commercial use?

You can download the content yourself if the file resolution is sufficient for your purposes. Otherwise, you will need to Contact Us so that we can help you. There may be a fee to acquire hi-res files.

Use of material found on Historic Pittsburgh is expressly allowed for non-commercial, personal, or research use only. Transmission or reproduction of protected items beyond what is allowed by fair use will require the written permission from the copyright owner.  The University of Pittsburgh, as owner of the Historic Pittsburgh website, will not be held responsible for any direct, indirect, consequential, or incidental damages arising out of or relating to the use of the information and materials linked to or found on this website.

 

COPYRIGHT

Are the items I see on Historic Pittsburgh copyrighted or in the public domain? Do I need to ask permission to reuse content I find on Historic Pittsburgh?

Most of the content on Historic Pittsburgh is in the public domain, and therefore, no permission is necessary. However, in other cases rights to individual images are retained by the institution that owns the original photograph, drawing or print. If an image is not in the public domain, it is generally noted. To be safe, it is best to Contact Us so that we can help you.

For any item not in the public domain, the appropriate Historic Pittsburgh partner received written permission or copyright clearance for the use of that item on this site. Users of the Historic Pittsburgh website do not need to seek permission for downloading images for private or educational use. Permission for commercial use will be determined on a case-by-case basis and may require a fee, depending on the proposed use. The University of Pittsburgh provides access to the digital materials on the Historic Pittsburgh website for educational, non-commercial, and private research use only. Any other use of these materials, including but not limited to commercial or scholarly reproductions, redistribution, publication, or transmission, is strictly prohibited without written permission.

Users should be aware that some images in these digital collections may be subject to additional restrictions enforced by the host institution or may be protected by the U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) or by the copyright laws of other nations. Reproduction of materials can be restricted by the host institution, donor restrictions, privacy and publicity rights, or licensing and trademarks. Users are ultimately responsible for determining copyright restrictions, for obtaining written permission, and for paying any fees necessary for the reproduction or proposed use of the materials.

For further information on copyright, contact the United States Copyright Office.

 

CENSUS INFORMATION

I used to be able to search the Census Schedules for 1850-1880 on Historic Pittsburgh. Can I still do that?

No, you cannot search the Census Schedules as you did on the old site. Instead you are able to download each census schedule by year, which means that you can have a copy of the data for yourself. You can then search the document on your own computer. For help with this, please Contact Us.

 

Where can I find census data from years not included on the Historic Pittsburgh website?

The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh's Pennsylvania Department holds most existing census schedules on microfilm for the Pittsburgh region.

The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) is the ultimate resource for the nation's census. Visit the NARA website for extensive information about researching census and the types of data contained in each decade of census schedules.

 

MAPS

Where do I find plat maps or atlases that are not included on the Historic Pittsburgh website?

Original volumes of real estate plat maps and atlases exist throughout the city. Contact the following institutions to inquire about the volumes in their holdings and their policies for access and use of these maps:

 

GENEALOGY RESOURCES

I am looking for information on my ancestors and I cannot travel to Pittsburgh to do genealogical research. Can you help me?

The following Pittsburgh institutions are very experienced in assisting genealogists, and we ask that you contact these institutions first for help in researching family or local history.

 

How do I obtain copies of vital records (birth, death, marriage, naturalization, etc) for ancestors who lived in Pittsburgh, Allegheny City, or within Allegheny County?

County offices hold most legal and public records. Otherwise, archival institutions may maintain older records. The Allegheny County Register of Wills website lists locations and contact information for repositories holding vital records.

 

How do I obtain copies of vital records for ancestors who lived in other Pennsylvania counties?

Please visit Vitalrec.com for information on obtaining vital records from other Pennsylvania counties.

 

How do I locate records of a Pittsburgh church or synagogue?

Various archives and libraries in Pittsburgh maintain records of some religious institutions. Search the online catalog at the Detre Library & Archives at the Heinz History Center or visit the Archives Service Center's online research guide to see if these institutions hold relevant religious records.

Also, contact the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh Archives and Record Center for information about Pittsburgh's Catholic parishes.

Records may also still be held by the church, synagogue, etc. In that case, you will want to contact the institution directly.

 

How do I locate the grave/cemetery where my ancestor is buried?

Some online resources are available or are in the works for gravesite and cemetery research. Many of these have been produced independently for genealogical research. They can be found on the local Rootsweb site.

Obituaries are one resource where you may be able to find information or clues about the final resting place of the deceased. Contact the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh's Pennsylvania Department and inquire about their Death Notice/Obituary Index (1786-1913; 1963-2000). The Carnegie Library will also be able to inform you about relevant publications that can help you with cemetery research.

The Western Pennsylvania Maps collection may also provide clues. Exploring the deceased's neighborhood on the maps will indicate a house of worship that may have records of your ancestor or indicate a local cemetery where he or she was laid to rest.

 

How can I learn more about the mine explosion, factory fire, arsenal disaster or mysterious circumstances of an ancestor's death in Pittsburgh?

To supplement information that may be found in the books in Historic Pittsburgh, you may want to research newspaper accounts of these events. The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh's Pennsylvania Department maintains an extensive clipping file of articles from local newspapers. You can research the newspapers yourself. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette is a major newspaper with a long history in Pittsburgh. Also, contact Pittsburgh libraries or archives for microfilm of other historic Pittsburgh area papers.

University of Pittsburgh's Archives Service Center also holds the Coroner Case Files from 1887-1973.

 

How do I find the street location and ward information of an ancestor who lived in Pittsburgh or Allegheny City?

City directories are invaluable genealogical resources in which you can trace the address and occupations of residents of the Cities of Pittsburgh and Allegheny. The Historic Pittsburgh website contains all the city directories published between 1837 and 1930 with a few gaps in between.

Local libraries and archives have more additional city directories beyond 1930 that have not been digitized. Reference staff at the Detre Library & Archives at the Heinz History Center and the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh's Pennsylvania Department can assist with city directory searches.

Historic Ward information is documented on map plates in the G.M Hopkins maps in Historic Pittsburgh. Ward numbers are usually indicated with a special font throughout the volumes. You can see these ward numbers on the index pages (the first page of the digital volume) as well as individual plates.

 

HOUSE HISTORY

How can I trace the history of a Pittsburgh house or building?

Owners and dates of purchase can be traced through the Allegheny County Registrar of Deeds. Deeds are traced backwards from present owner's name. Information on current owners of many existing houses and buildings can be found at the Allegheny County Real Estate website.

Ownership of property in Pittsburgh can also be traced in real estate plat maps, many of which are available in the Western Pennsylvania Maps collections.

Also, visit the house history guide created by the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh. (Please note that this resource is temporarily unavailable.)

 

BUSINESSES

How can I find information on a business that once existed in Pittsburgh?

You can search for the name of the business in Historic Pittsburgh.

You can also see if the records of that business are maintained in a local archive. Search the Detra Library & Archives at the Heinz History Center catalog, read about the holdings at the University of Pittsburgh's Archives Service Center, or search our Finding Aids for inventories and information about relevant archival collections.

The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh's Pennsylvania Room maintains an extensive clippings file of articles from local newspapers. Or you can research the newspapers yourself. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette is a major newspaper with a long history in Pittsburgh. Also, contact Pittsburgh libraries or archives for microfilm of other historic Pittsburgh area papers.

 

SPELLING OF PITTSBURG(H)

Why is Pittsburgh spelled with an "h"?

The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh provides a well-documented explanation of the Pittsburgh spelling online. Please visit their How to Spell Pittsburgh page to learn more about why we spell Pittsburgh the way we do. (Please note that this resource is temporarily unavailable.)

 

APPRAISAL

I have an old book about Pittsburgh or an antique object made in Pittsburgh... how much is it worth?

We cannot appraise books or antiques. You will need to speak with a reputable antique appraiser, a rare book dealer, or book conservator.

 

OTHER RESOURCES

Besides the Historic Pittsburgh website, what are some other resources and institutions that can assist me in my research?

There are many cultural heritage institutions or Web sites that specialize in preserving, documenting, or teaching about Pittsburgh's history, industrial past, and genealogy. Many of the following websites also provide contact information for research inquiries.