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Philadelphia 1700-2000: Philadelphia Municipal Documents

Municipal Documents and Directories

How to Find Property Ownership Records

Penn Libraries provides access, though the City of Philadelphia, to ownership records of individual parcels in the city. To access both current and historical records, you must use two different tools, DOR Parcel Explorer and Philadox.

  • Start with DOR Parcel Explorer, available through the library website.
  • Log in with the user name and password provided.
  • Zoom in to the area of interest in Philadelphia, until you can see the outlines of individual properties (parcels).
  • Click on a parcel in your area of interest. Write down the numbers next to BaseReg and Parcel.
  • Access PhilaDox (through library website).
  • Expand the folder for Reg. Plans. The first part of the BaseReg number corresponds to the numbers in this folder.
  • In the folder that opens below, find the number for your BaseReg. Browse through the scanned pages to find your parcel.

City Directories

City directories, the precursor to the telephone book, are an invaluable resource for understanding the history of a city's businesses, organizations, and residents.

Penn's print holdings of Philadelphia city directories are located in the F158 section of the 5th floor of Van Pelt Library.  More extensive collections that postdate Penn's can be found in our microfilm collection, City directories of the United States, 1860-1961. First consult the index of the microfilm directories, which is available in the Van Pelt Reference Stacks at Z5771.2 .C58 1983. Directories are listed alphabetically by city.

Early (1785-1865) directories of Philadelphia are available online.

Subject Guide

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Nick Okrent
Van Pelt Library, room 204
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(215) 898-7555