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Preserving Local Heritage

February 11, 2021

Since it’s creation the Pennsylvania Highlands Community College Library has made it a priority to preserve local history.  To this end, we began working with our county government to digitize thousands of local immigration records.   We collected these documents and started the process of sorting them to see what kind of information we had to work with.  The records were indexed but we found many errors regarding the names of the people involved.  This kind of thing is to be expected given that all the files are filled out by hand.  Anyone who has worked with historic documents can relate to the struggle to understand faded handwriting.  The origins of the people represented in these declarations range from Europe all the way to Turkey. It really shows the rich heritage of our area.

Many of these documents go back to the 1800’s when most countries were still led by royalty. It’s interesting to read someone renouncing their allegiance to kings or queens. Here is a man named Anthony Abraham applying for citizenship and renouncing his loyalty to the Sultan of Turkey in 1905. Imagine the adventures he must have had to get all the way to Cambria County Pennsylvania!

To make these files accessible we’ve begun the process of uploading them to PA Photos and Documents, an online repository funded by the Office of Commonwealth Libraries of Pennsylvania.  If you’re interested in our work you can see it here.

If you have any questions about this collection please contact me at

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