FamilySearch.org Historical Record Collection has a fabulous collection for Probate Records in Pennsylvania for 1683-1994. That’s the good news. If you’re searching for a will in Allegheny County, that may be the “bad news” because it’s easier said than done.
Actually there is a process that is successful when followed carefully. You’ll want to know it before you attempt such a search. The Pennsylvania, Probate Records, 1683-1994 collection at FamilySearch.org is a browsable collection which means it is not indexed. You will have to search through the collection much like turning a microfilm on a reader. It’s not as hard as it sounds. Begin by clicking on “Browse through 3,201,289 images” and select Allegheny County.
It takes 3 steps to get to a Will (if there is one) in this county. The first step is to look in the Allegheny County Estate Index for an individual’s listing. Just choose the link according to the surname and first name you are looking for. Click and browse. You must learn the Russell Key Index System at the front of each volume. It will give you the page to go to in the collection. Now start browsing.
Once you’ve found your person in the index, you must use the information (i.e. volume, page and block) to take you to the “Proceedings Index”. (The “block” number is for one of the “squares” on the index page.) See below: the name, death date and place, the Executrix, and the volume #, page # and block #
“Where are the Proceedings Indexes?” you may ask. Well the listings under Allegheny County in the “Pennsylvania Probate Records, 1683-1994” is very extensive and covers a variety of record types. They are listed alphabetically so scroll down the page (from the Estate Index that you’ve been in) until you come to the Proceedings Index 1788-1971. Choose the Volume you need (volume 1 through 95) and click. Example: Volume 36.
Follow the volume and page and block number previously found in the Estate Index. You will be successful if you are precise in following directions.
Once there, you will find what papers are contained in the Probate packet. If there is a Will (WB = Will Book), make a note of the volume, page and will numbers and go to the next collection – Wills.
“Wills” are found at the bottom of the Record listings for Allegheny County. Simply click on the volume you need and go to the page number. Voila!
Give it a try. There is amazing information in wills that can enlighten you about your ancestors and their relationships!