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Pennsylvania Chronology

This brief chronology of Pennsylvania history is intended as an aid to assist you in orienting yourself in your researches. These mileposts in the history of the Commonwealth may help in your understanding of and search for documents.

1643 -- First permanent settlement by Swedes on the Delaware.
1681 -- William Penn receives Pennsylvania as royal grant.
1701 -- Philadelphia chartered as a city.
1714 -- The Amish begin settlement in Berks County.
1754 -- French establish Fort Duquesne at the forks of the Ohio.
-- French and Indian War begins with French and Indians fighting the British.
1758 -- French troops retreat and burn Fort Duquesne;
-- British General Forbes occupies area and names it "Pittsbourgh."
1767 -- Mason/Dixon Line sets boundary between Pennsylvania and Maryland.
1774 -- First Continental Congress meets in Philadelphia.
1790 -- New state constitution for Pennsylvania.
-- Congress establishes Philadelphia as seat of federal government.
1792 -- Purchase of "Erie Triangle" to complete present state.
1794 -- Uprising against excise tax known as "Whiskey Rebellion."
1838 -- New state constitution.
1852-5 Pennsylvania counties keep vital statistics records.
1863 -- The Civil War Battle of Gettysburg is fought.
1867 -- First practical Bessemer steel made at Steelton.
1869 -- Pennsylvania Railroad reaches west to Columbus, Ohio.
1874 -- New state constitution.
1877 -- Railroad riots cause destruction and deaths.
1885 -- Marriage license applications begin in county records.
1893 -- Births and deaths recorded by counties.
1906 -- State records of births and deaths begin.
1985 -- State law closes access to original birth records held in the state depository.