The BCGS features a knowledgeable all-volunteer staff, who like yourself, is interested in the family history of our hometown residents. Berks County, erected in 1752, features a rich history and diverse culture. It is the ancestral home of Abraham Lincoln and the birthplace of Daniel Boone, the famous Kentucky pioneer. The county seat, Reading, was founded in 1748 by sons of William Penn, Richard and Thomas, along with Conrad Weiser.
Notable Berks County Residents
Genealogy 101: Starting Your Search
BCGS is offering a series of four classes for the beginning genealogist. Classes will meet in the society's library.
Dates: Monday, June 5, 12, 19, and 26. More ».
Reading Eagle Digitizing Project Update - We will be sending approximately 500 rolls out of 1,049 rolls to be digitized and expect them back by the end of March. As we raise more funds, another batch will be sent. Thank you for your donations! More »
Many people express a natural curiosity about their ancestors. They listen to stories told by parents, grandparents, or other older folks. The stories may be about the good old days, serving our country, or arriving as immigrants.
The science of genealogy allows researchers to act as detectives as they piece together bits of information about their ancestors. They may want to find out when their ancestors first arrived in the United States, if any fought in the Revolutionary War or Civil War, or if anyone famous is a member of their tree. The pathway to the past however, is not paved with gold, though some may be discovered along the way. It’s often a rough and rocky journey through twists and turns and sometimes road blocks.
Regardless of the initial purpose for the research, discovering one's family history yields many enlightening and enriching rewards.
A wealth of documentation exists about Berks County families including census records (1790-1930), back issues of the local daily newspaper, church records, cemetery records, naturalization records, minister journals, family indexes, deeds, wills, warrantee maps, and more.
The BCGS Library, open 7 days a week, offers a multitude of organized material to assist researchers in piecing together family histories.
Where to Start
If you’re new to genealogy or overwhelmed by all the information, check out our Helpful Tips page. It includes research strategies, interpretations of the census forms, reviews of the top genealogy software packages, and a list of common genealogical terms and abbreviations. It also explains the value of information found in obituaries and cemeteries.
If you have any questions, feel free to contact us.