The mission of the Historical Society of Berks County is to focus attention on the unique local history, the vast material culture, and the diverse cultural heritage of Berks County by preserving, archiving, and promoting this material to instill in our citizens of all ages and ethnic groups an awareness of this growing treasure trove of information. This allows the HSBC to be a major cultural magnet, drawing people to our community.
The Historical Society of Berks County's Henry Janssen Library is acknowledged to be one of the best and most thoroughly indexed collections of county data in Pennsylvania.
Included in our collection are...
- County tax records from 1754 to 1850
- Church records - 140 churches
- Cemetery records - 110 account books
- Census reports from 1790 to 1920
- Family histories - 400
- Computer data-base of births, deaths, baptisms, marriages, military references, etc. Over 700,000 entries and increasing daily!
- Newspapers from 1796 to the 1940s (One of the largest newspaper collections in the state)
- "Passing Scene" local history books (22,000 references, indexed fully, 2,800 photos fully captioned)
- Photograph collection (fully cataloged; 15,000 views)
- Glase collection of theatre programs, photos, and newspaper clippings (P. E. Glase's lifetime accumulation relating to those who appeared in Reading during the 1870s to 1940s mainly. One of the major PA collections, as everyone who was somebody appeared in Reading.
- Local history books
- Military Records Spanish American and Civil Wars
- Historical Review Index A comprehensive index of every issue published between 1970 and 2003.
There is a $5.00 per day charge for non-members for library use.