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RG-47
Records of the COUNTY GOVERNMENTS



There are 67 counties in Pennsylvania including the consolidated city-county of Philadelphia, and each inhabitant of the state lives in and comes under the jurisdiction of one of them. The largest population is Philadelphia with over one and a half million people; the smallest is Forest with approximately five thousand. The Constitution establishes a basic organization, but counties can adopt their own form of government. Six counties have adopted home rule charters: Philadelphia, Delaware, Erie, Lackawanna, Lehigh and Northampton.

To view information relative to county municipalities and incorporation dates, you can view the publication entitled Incorporation Dates for Pennsylvania Municipalities by clicking on the link. This was published by the Pennsylvania Department of Internal Affairs in 1965 and while somewhat outdated, still provides accurate information on the formation of townships, boroughs, counties, etc.

County Functions

Counties continue to serve in their traditional role as agents of the state for law enforcement, judicial administration and the conduct of elections. The county is also responsible for the property assessment function. Counties become involved in regional planning, solid waste disposal and public health. They perform welfare functions, including mental health. Counties also can establish housing and redevelopment authorities and conduct community development programs. Counties maintain hospitals and homes for the aged. Counties may support local libraries and community colleges.

Legislation enacted in recent years has strengthened the policymaking role of boards of county commissioners, granting them greater control of and responsibility for county government. The geographic size of counties enables them to cope with functions that can be better performed on an area wide basis, that is, mass transportation and environmental protection.

County Government

County government, as provided for in the county codes, may be described as a "no-executive" type. The chief governing body is the three member board of county commissioners. But there are also numerous other elected officials to a large extent independent of the county commissioners. These include the sheriff, district attorney, prothonotary, clerk of courts, register of wills, clerk of the orphans' court, coroner, recorder of deeds and two jury commissioners whose duties are mostly concerned with the work of the county court. Additionally, there are the elective offices of the controller or three auditors and the treasurer who are county finance officers. A public defender is appointed as provided by law. The county commissioners, the elected officers and the county court individually or jointly appoint a number of other county officials and employes needed to carry out county functions by law.

Whereas the 11 elected county officials are enumerated in the Pennsylvania Constitution, their powers and duties are prescribed by statutes which are scattered throughout the county codes and general state laws. Consolidation of certain elected offices is provided by state law in the smaller class counties involving the offices of prothonotary, clerk of courts, register of wills, clerk of the orphans' court, and recorder of deeds.

The following are records among the holdings of the State Archives. In addition, the Archives makes available microfilm copies of county records. See County GovernmentsMicrofilm List.

Adams County

Clerk of Courts


Allegheny County

Board of County Commissioners Controller Coroner

District Attorney

Prothonotary Recorder of Deeds Treasurer

Beaver County

Board of County Commissioners

Bedford County

Prothonotary

Recorder of Deeds

Register of Wills and Clerk of the Orphans' Court


Berks County

Board of County Commissioners

Prothonotary

Blair County

Prothonotary

Bradford County

Board of County Commissioners

Bucks County

Board of County Commissioners Board of Elections and Voter Registrations Clerk of the Orphans' Court

Butler County

Prothonotary

Prothonotary

Carbon County

Board of County Commissioners
Prothonotary

Treasurer


Clinton County

Prothonotary

Columbia County

Board of County Commissioners
Prothonotary

Crawford County

Clerk of Courts

Cumberland County

Board of County Commissioners
Register of Wills

Veterans' Affairs Office

Dauphin County

Almshouse and County Home
Board of County Commissioners Clerk of Courts Prothonotary Recorder of Deeds Tax Assessment Office

Erie County

Board of County Commissioners Prothonotary Recorder of Deeds Register of Wills

Fayette County

Prothonotary

Franklin County

Board of County Commissioners

Fulton County

Prothonotary

Huntingdon County

Prothonotary

Indiana County

Prothonotary

Jefferson County

Board of County Commissioners
Prothonotary

Juniata County

Board of County Commissioners


Lackawanna County

Clerk of Judicial Records

Lancaster County

Clerk of Courts


Lawrence County

Clerk of Courts Prothonotary

Prothonotary

Tax Assessment Office

Lehigh County

Board of County Commissioners


Clerk of Courts

 

Luzerne County

Board of County Commissioners Clerk of Courts

Prothonotary

Register of Wills


McKean County

Prothonotary

Mercer County

Board of County Commissioners

Clerk of Courts

Mifflin County

Board of County Commissioners

Monroe County

Prothonotary and Clerk of Courts

Montgomery County

Prothonotary

Northampton County

Board of County Commissioners

Northumberland County

Board of County Commissioners

Perry County

Board of County Commissioners

Prothonotary

Recorder of Deeds

Philadelphia County

Board of County Commissioners

Pike County

Board of County Commissioners

Schuylkill County

Board of County Commissioners

Court Administrator

Clerk of Courts

Prothonotary

Somerset County

Clerk of Courts

Prothonotary

Susquehanna County

Board of County Commissioners
Clerk of Courts


Register of Wills

Tioga County

Prothonotary

Union County

Prothonotary


Washington County

Board of County Commissioners Prothonotary

*Washington County Charter Books, 1897-1973. (21 volumes) are maintained in Record Group 26, Department of State, Corporation Bureau as series #26.114.


Wayne County

Board of County Commissioners

Westmoreland County

Board of County Commissioners

Controller

Prothonotary

Recorder of Deeds

Sheriff

Treasurer

York County

Board of County Commissioners

PA State Archives Hours, Directions, & Fees Research Topics Finding Aids for Collections Land Records