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Philadelphia Neighborhoods Research: URBS 210/ URBS 206: Data & Documents

Finding census schedules, photographs, and maps for places in Philadelphia.

Data Sources

City Documents and Reports

How to Find Property Ownership History

Philadelphia's property records are available back to the 1700s through several databases, free and licensed to the Penn Libraries.

Registry Number (Parcel Map Identifier)

The fundamental piece of information you will need to trace property deeds is your property's Registry Number - also called the Parcel Map Identifier. This identifier has two parts : a Recording Map identifier (number+direction, e.g., 031S, 157N) followed by a Parcel number.

Searching current deeds and property records (1973-present)
Searching property ownership (mid-1800s to mid-1900s)
  1. Reg. Plans. These registers trace parcel ownership, listing consecutive owners and transfer dates - these are necessary for the second step. These PDF pages are arranged by Recording Map identifier. Each line on a PDF page represents a Parcel number. Parcel numbers may carry over to additional pages : look for the Parcel numbers in their appropriate rows! NOTE : If all you need is a list of past property owners and transfer dates, you're done!
  2. Grantee / Grantor. These registers provide the Recorder of Deeds' initials, Deed Date, Deed Book, and Deed Page for each historic deed - these are necessary for retrieving a historic deed. Grantors sell the property, Grantees buy the property. Start by browsing one of these volume menus by date. Then choose the initials (Last name first letter, First name first letter - watch out for how PhilaDox handles very common names!) to open a multi-page PDF file.
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