There are many valuable transcribed lists and documents available in the Pennsylvania Archives publication. People from all walks of life are mentioned. If your ancestor or research focus married, was baptized, paid taxes, was in the militia, ran for office, wrote to the government for help, was a foreigner who entered the port of Philadelphia, owned or attempted to own land, or wrote a diary or journal, just to name a few, then he or she could be mentioned.
In a state where civil marriage records began in 1885, church records are extremely important. In Series 2, volume II is an alphabetical listing by surname, for both grooms and brides, which includes the date of marriage: "Names of Persons for Whom Marriage Licenses Were Issued in the Province of Pennsylvania Previous to 1790." You can browse the list, beginning here. Or use the search box at the bottom of that browse screen to look for a specific name.
Baptismal records for Egypt Reformed Church give the names of parents and sponsors in this 1829 example from Series 6, volume VI.
Diaries and Journals
Many military journals can be interesting in their own right if your ancestor served with the diarist. You can imagine how a young man may have occupied his time in the military company of Lt. James McMichael on Saturday evening, 1 June 1776, or you can read what he actually did in Lt. McMichael’s diary entry.
The 1743-1756 reports of Conrad Weiser, a German-born diplomat, judge, community planner, soldier, and Pennsylvania’s foremost Indian treaty maker give many details of life and interactions with the Indians such as this encounter in 1743.
Governors and their Constituents
If you are researching someone who was “just a farmer” he still may have written to the governor for help, or signed a petition for a new road. Many of these letters from “simple folks” are part of the governors’ papers. A group of neighbors petitioned the Lieutenant Governor for protection from being “murdered by our enemies” so that they could reap their harvest “beyond the Mountains” and not become a burden to their country for want of grain. Read their petition of 1757.
Land Warrantee Records (1730 – 1898)
William Penn, his sons, and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania all sold land to individuals in a three-part system of applying for a warrant, having a survey done, and then a land patent issued. The list of warrantees from Series 3, volume 26, page v, is given by county and then by first letter of surname in chronological order of the survey date. Search by surname or county name.
Militia Records and the Council of Safety
One example, within "Officers and Soldiers in the Service of the Province of Pennsylvania. 1744-1764," is the "'Muster Roul of the Company of Foot, Commanded by Captain John Shannon, Anno Domini 1746,' [September.]" where men are listed by name, age, where born, date of enlistment, and occupation. The variety of recruits within this particular roll include Charles Coyle, a 32-year-old cordwainer from Ireland; Solomon Evans, 36, of Newcastle, Delaware, a white-smith; and James Davis, 21, of Philadelphia who makes perukes for a living.
The Northampton Battalion of the Flying Camp muster roll in 1776 lists men and officers by their company name. [Series 5, volume VIII, page 539]
The activities of the Council of Safety were many and varied on 16 August 1776: from deciding not to march the militia to New Jersey, to collecting damages on a suit, to providing for a sick prisoner. Read about what affliction the prisoner had. [Series 2, volume XIV, page 613]
In May 1780, the militia was reorganized so that the number of battalions changed and each company was divided into eight classes. Only one or two classes in a battalion were called out at a time so that the others could remain at home to protect the women and children of their neighbors who were away on duty. View an example of this system for the First Company, Second Battalion of the 1782 Northampton militia. (Note the creative use of spelling.) [Series 5, volume VIII, page 200]
Oaths of Allegiance, Naturalization, and Ship Manifests
"Persons Naturalized in the Province of Pennsylvania. 1740-1773" are lists of "Persons, being Foreigners and having inhabited and resided the space of seven years and upwards in his Majesty's Colonies in America," who satisfied the requirements to become "Natural born Subjects of Great Britain." This is the colonial-era equivalent of today's US naturalization records. View the list here.
Names of Foreigners who took the oath of allegiance to King George are listed under ship name and arrival date at the port of Philadelphia. One such ship was the Harle which came from Rotterdam on 1 September 1736. [Series 2, Volume XVII, page 121] The list was sometimes repeated with the ages of the men, women, and children aboard such as this example of the Harle found listed in the pages following the first listing.
"Indian Traders, Mediterranean Passes, Letters of Marque and Ships' Registers. 1743-1776." These pages begin here in Series 2, volume II, page 529.
Tax Records (1765 – 1791)
Taxes were collected on the number of acres owned, and on horses and on cattle. They were listed in rough alphabetical order by county and then by township. “Single freemen” were listed after all the married men, as in this 1786 Northampton County example. Researching each tax year and observing when a man went from one list to the other would indicate when he may have been married.