The Colonial Records consist primarily of transcriptions of the minutes of the various legal bodies governed Pennsylvania during the Colonial and Revolutionary War periods. The Minutes of the Provincial Council, 1683-1775, comprise volumes I-X. The Minutes of the Council of Safety, 1775-1777, comprise volumes X and XI. The Minutes of the the Supreme Executive Council of Pennsylvania, 1777-1790, comprise volumes X-XVI.
The First Series, titled The Pennsylvania Archives, consist primarily of transcriptions of documents (e.g. letters, petitions, remonstrances, etc.) referred to in the Colonial Records. They come from the files of the Secretary of the Commonwealth, dating between 1664 and 1790.
In an attempt to transcribe as much material from the earliest days of the settlement of Pennsylvania to and including the Revolutionary War period, the volumes of the Second Series encompass a great variety of subjects. The Second Series, though ambitious in its attempt, has been found to contain a number of serious errors. The researcher who desires accuracy should consult the Fifth Series rather than the Second if the subject is muster rolls of Revolutionary War soldiers. Also, the immigrant lists transcribed as part of this series were corrected and published by Strassburger and Hinke in their three-volume set, Pennsylvania German Pioneers; the researcher would save a lot of time and aggravation to consult the latter publication.
In addition to Revolutionary War militia and Continental Line muster rolls, the Second Series contains church records, the minutes of the Board of War and the Navy Board for 1777, information on the Wyoming Massacre and the Whiskey Rebellion.
The Second Series was issued between 1874 and 1890.
This series contains much the same types of information as the Second Series with the exception that the time period covered was moreso following the Revolutionary War period. The series contains many tax returns along with lists of land warranties. The last four volumes of this series consists of an index to the preceeding twenty-six volumes.
The Third Series was issued over five years between 1894 and 1899.
This series is devoted exclusively to the Papers of the Pennsylvania Governors. Covering the period between 1681 and 1902, the Fourth Series includes addresses, proclamations and other papers accumulated from the executive office of the governor.
This series was issued between 1900 and 1902.
The Fifth Series was published in order to correct the many mistakes that had been made in the publication of the Revolutionary War muster rolls in the Second Series. The first volume of the Fifth Series contains transcripts of the muster rolls and associated documents relating to the French and Indian War period. Volumes II and III contain brief histories and muster rolls of the Pennsylvania battalions and regiments of the Continental Line. Volume IV contains two lists of soldiers, the one labeled as a list of depreciation pay and the other simply as a list of the men who served in any unit during the war. The latter list is believed to have been primarily of those men who served in the ranger companies. Volume V contains muster rolls for associator and militia companies raised in Bedford County, Berks County, Bucks County and Chester County. Volume VI is devoted entirely to muster rolls for associator and militia companies raised in Cumberland County. Volume VII contains muster rolls for associator and militia companies raised in Lancaster County. The last volume of the Fifth Series, Volume VIII contains muster rolls for associator and militia companies raised in Northampton County and Northumberland County.
It should be noted that this series contains transcripts of some documents outside of the official archives. It was issued in 1906.
It had been hoped that all of the counties’ associator and militia company Revolutionary War muster rolls could be included in the volumes of the Fifth Series. But that was not possible, therefore they were continued into the Sixth Series. The first two volumes of this series contain the remaining counties’ muster rolls. Volume I contains the muster rolls for associator and militia companies raised in Philadelphia City and Philadelphia County. Volume II contains the muster rolls for associator and militia companies raised in Washington County, Westmoreland County and York County. Inventories of estates confiscated during the Revolutionary War, some election returns from the 18th century, and some church records are included in this series.
Records from the War of 1812 period are also included in this series. Some records are dated as late as the Mexican War.
Volume XV, Parts 1 and 2, of the Sixth Series consists of the index for the Fifth Series.
This series was issued in 1906-1907.
The Seventh Series consists entirely of an index to the Sixth Series.
This series was issued in 1914.
This series is entirely devoted to transcriptions of the Votes And Proceedings Of The House Of Representatives Of The Province Of Pennsylvania, 1682-1776.
The Eighth Series was issued between 1931 and 1935.
Fifteen manuscript volumes are maintained in the Division of Public Records which consist of Executive Minutes, a "journal of official actions of Pennsylvania's Governors for the period 1790-1838. This series is a transcription of that material. In essence this series is a continuation of the Colonial Records. It also serves as a supplement to the Fourth Series for the period of the Constitution of 1790.
The series was issued between 1931 and 1935.