York County Dog Register

Our Documentary Heritage showcases holdings drawn from the vast collections of the Pennsylvania State Archives.

A sketch of Noble Duke, a black and white Llewellin Setter who lived in York County in 1888, appears in a record book kept by the York County Clerk of Quarter Sessions to register canines in the county between 1884 and 1915. Legislation passed in 1854 and amended in 1878, required owners to furnish the Clerk of Quarter Sessions in each county with a description of their dogs, providing name, age, color, height, sex, breed, and any identifying marks. Owners paid the clerk a fee of one dollar, for which they received a copy of the registration. The Pennsylvania State Archives borrowed the dog register that describes Noble Duke from the York County Clerk of Courts (formerly Quarter Sessions) for microfilming. The sketch was used in a 1989 canine calendar issued by the Workman Publishing Company, New York.

Dog registers are typical of fascinating – but often little-known – registers and dockets maintained by county officers in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries that are useful for genealogists and researchers of social history. These records include occupational registers for attorneys, dentists, law students, medical doctors, merchants, midwives, optometrists, osteopaths, soldier peddlers, and veterinary surgeons. Between 1903 and 1905, automobile owners were required to register their names and addresses, together with the manufacturers’ names and vehicle numbers, with their county prothonotary who then issued certificates of registration. Other types of records are stallion registers and liquor license dockets.

There is no greater source of malformation about the Keystone State and its citizens than the records created and maintained by Pennsylvania’s more than five thousand local governments. As part of its efforts to help preserve these records, the Pennsylvania State Archives conducts an ongoing security microfilming program. The State Archives microfilms and makes available to researchers county and municipal records of particularly high historical and genealogical value, such as minutes of county commissioners and municipal governing councils; birth, death, and marriage registers; various types of court records; road and bridge books; almshouse registers; and tax records. Local government records are highlighted under Record Groups 47, 48, and 55. Each year the Pennsylvania State Archives accessions an average of nine hundred rolls of local records micro­film, making available in its search room an additional 660,000 images of historical records.