Frequently Asked Questions
Where did this data come from?
The data you are searching on this site consists of over 1,000,000 records held by the Register of Wills/Clerk of the Orphans' Court offices in the Berks County Services Center (Courthouse). The indexes were compiled by the staff of these offices and volunteers over a period of eight (8) years. The records were typed either from the indexes themselves or, for those records not indexed, from the actual documents.
Can I report a spelling error?
Of course. We admit it. We have made "a few" typos. The clerks who preceded us in this office also made "a few" spelling errors on the documents and in their hand written indexes. Just email firstname.lastname@example.org
and corrections will be made. Please note that records on the Internet cannot be modified individually. The entire database must be uploaded to the web server. Because of the size of these databases and the time required to upload each one, the correction will appear within 90 days of your request. Please be assured the corrections are made immediately to our in-house database and the entire corrected database will be uploaded to the web server at least quarterly.
Will the actual records ever be available for viewing on the web site?
We have been electronically imaging our records since 2004. We started with the current records since they are the records we use in the office every day. In the near future we hope to make those records available online, and then we will start imaging the older, historically significant records. With over one million indexed records, and with an average of 15 pages per record, you can see we are talking about a monumental undertaking; approximately 15,000,000 documents. It took us eight (8) years just to organize and type the indexes you see. I am reminded of the question, "How do you eat an elephant?" The answer, "One bite at a time!" That's how we will take on this project.
How do I obtain copies of the records found in the indexes?
To obtain copies, just mail a check or money order to the address on the website. In your correspondence, indicate the records you would like to obtain, list your e-mail address, and tell us you found the records on our website. Copies will be forwarded as soon as possible upon receipt of your payment. Your check is not cashed until your order is processed. We are evaluating taking credit cards to pay for copies and would appreciate your feedback on this. Our #1 concern is your security.
How much does it cost to obtain copies of your records?
A. Marriage Records
$1.00 for Xerox copy of application
$10.00 for court-certified copy of application
$5.00 for court certified copy
$2.00 for uncertified copy of Reading marriages
B. Birth/Death Records
$2.00 for typed listing of entries as they appear in office dockets
$5.00 for court certified certificate containing same as above
C. Estate Records
$1.00 per page (Xerox copy); number of pages in file is listed in the index
What information do the records contain?
- Marriage Records (County of Berks) - You will receive a copy of the actual marriage listing:
- Name, age, address, birth date, birthplace, occupation, and previous marriage information for each applicant
- Name, residence, occupation, and birthplace of each applicant's parents
- Date and place of marriage including name, title and address of officiant
- Marriage Records (City of Reading)
- Name, age, occupation, residence, and birthplace of each applicant
- Date, place, and officiant of marriage ceremony
- Birth Records (County of Berks)
- Name, year recorded, place of birth, parents' names, father's occupation
- Birth Records (City of Reading)
- Name, date of birth, place of birth, parents' names, father's occupation, physician/midwife's name
- Death Records (County of Berks)
- Name, occupation, age, year recorded, place of death, cause of death, date of burial, place of burial, marital status, parents' names
- Death Records (City of Reading)
- Name, occupation, age, date of death, cause of death, place of birth, residence, date of burial, place of burial, parents' names, attending physician, other informant
- Estate Records
- Includes orphans' court records; can contain estates (both with or without wills), inventories, accounts, guardianships, or any other type of miscellaneous file ordered to this division of the courts
Can anyone in your office do research for me?
The clerks in this office cannot perform in-depth research for you. The purpose of this web site is to make everyone aware of the records available in this office. We can confirm simple requests such as, "Was an individual survived by wife 'X'." However, we are unable to provide you with a list of heirs, confirm a relationship between two estates, etc.
If you require detailed research, we can refer you to an experienced genealogist who has volunteered in our office for several years. Her work was instrumental in the completion of this web site. She may be able to help you. However, in this capacity, she is not affiliated with the office in any way. Any charges incurred will be agreed upon between yourself and the genealogist.
Can you send scanned copies of the documents through the email?
We are working toward this solution, and it will go hand in hand with our electronic imaging project mentioned above. At this time, we cannot send scanned copies of documents through email.
Do you accept credit card payments for copies?
Presently, we do not accept credit card payments over the Internet. We do accept credit card payments in the office, though, so if you come in personally to make copies, you are welcome to use Visa or MasterCard to pay for them.
What are your plans for the future?
This is the third generation of this website. The first site was launched in November, 1997. We had no county resources available at the time, just the data, the concept, and a 14 year old high school student who was willing to create the site for us. We weren't sure if people would be interested, but we wanted to put the indexes up and see what would happen. It was the first time a Register's Office had done so in Pennsylvania. We were overwhelmed by the response.
Eventually, the County of Berks established its own website, and at the end of 2002, the Information Systems Department encouraged us to integrate our site with theirs. We ended up with a hybrid system, with the static half of our site on the County's system and the searchable side on our own website. Most people didn't know the difference because we tried hard to make it very seamless as you moved from one to the other. In October of 2006, we fully integrated with the County site, and have the ability to manage our site within theirs.
With electronic imaging technology, our goal for the future is to make the actual records available to you online. The revenue generated from our website, through the fees you pay for copies, has helped fund the improvements we have made in technology. The legislature also allows us to collect a special fee for records management. With that additional funding, we have been able to stay on the leading edge of technology in the Register's Office, and that has allowed us to pursue this goal.
We hope you like what you see, and welcome your comments and suggestions. Thanks for visiting.