Skip to content

Spring 2024 PA Dutch Class Registration is Open

940 Centre Ave, Reading, PA 19601 | (610) 375-4375 
Hours: Wednesday – Saturday 9am – 3pm

940 Centre Ave, Reading, PA 19601
(610) 375-4375 
Hours: Wednesday – Saturday 9am – 3pm

Library

Berks History Center’s Henry Janssen Library

The Henry Janssen Library is the center for genealogical and historical research at the Berks History Center.

Need help with your historical research or family genealogy? The Berks History Center’s friendly and professional team of Archivists and Research Assistants is ready to help you uncover Berks County’s history.

For those visiting us in person, the Henry Janssen Library is located at 160 Spring Street in Reading, Pennsylvania, approximately 30 yards west of the Berks History Center headquarters at 940 Centre Avenue.

Can’t make it to the library? For a pre-paid fee, we can investigate materials available in our collections and respond to your historical or genealogical research requests. 

Henry-janssen-Library-image

The Henry Janssen Library is home to more than 200 manuscript collections that contain the records of individuals, families, businesses, social organizations, and government. Our library includes an extensive collection of materials on Berks County, the history of Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania German history, religion, and decorative arts. Our photographic collections contain more than 20,000 historic images from around the County. Our holdings also include an extensive collection of church records, baptismal certificates (Taufscheine), maps, city directories, and local newspapers.

Library Hours

By appointment only

Wednesday – Saturday : 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM

Library Admission Fees

Members

Free

Non-Members

$7

Students

Free

Library Hours

By appointment only

Wednesday – Saturday : 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM

Library Admission Fees

Members

Free

Non-Members

$7

Students (with valid id)

Free

Library Guidelines

Upon arrival to the Henry Janssen Library, patrons who wish to conduct research on-site are required to deposit all bags and outerwear in self-service lockers or the coatroom before entering the library.
Patrons are required to complete and sign a Registration and Acknowledgement of Policies form upon arrival.
There is no fee for Berks History Center Members, but non-members must purchase admission at either the Henry Janssen Library or the Berks History Center Museum.
Patrons are permitted to bring their laptop, pencils, cellphone, files, books, etc. into the library, but they may not use their phones to photograph library materials.
Please make sure your cell phone is on vibrate. If you receive a call that you must take, go outside.
Food and drink are not permitted in the research room.
Only pencils may be used while you are researching. There are always plenty on the reception desk, where there is also paper for note-taking.
All research materials are for use in the library only. Nothing may be checked out.
If you are here for several days, we can keep your materials aside for up to five working days. After that time, materials will be returned to the shelves.
The staff reserves the right to inspect all materials brought in to the research room and upon departure.
THE FOLLOWING CAN BE FOUND IN THE RESEARCH ROOM
  • Church and cemetery records
  • Photograph indexes
  • Marriage license records
  • Montgomery’s Historical and Biographical Annals of Berks County
  • George Meiser’s The Passing Scene
  • The Historical Review of Berks County
  • Various military records
  • And much more!
library fraktur
Requests for photocopies or scans

Our library staff can copy or scan documents and photographs for patrons. However, we cannot copy more than ten percent of the pages from any single book due to copyright restrictions. In addition, there are instances when we cannot copy a work due to its condition, size, or copyright/access restrictions. The final decision regarding what can or cannot be copied is at the discretion of the Archivist.

Patrons requesting photographic scans must sign a Reproduction Agreement Form which serves as a license agreement between the user and the Berks History Center. Additional policies and an explanation of fees are outlined in our Reproduction Policies and Fees document.

Note: If your copy requests require more than 30 minutes to fill, you may be required to pay a $25.00 an hour Research fee, plus the cost of the copies and postage and handling. The request may be filled within the next two business days as time allows. Copies will be mailed to you.

If copies require 4 or more hours to fill, the researcher will be charged a $50.00 Research fee, plus cost of copies and postage and handling. The request may be filled within the next two business days as time allows. Copies will be mailed to you.

Research Services

Are you unable to visit our library in person?  Are you seeking some help with your research? Let us help you! For a prepaid fee, we can investigate materials available in our collections and respond to your historical or genealogical research request. 

Non-Members: $35.00 per hour

Members: $25.00 per hour

Limit to 1 hour and will contact you if more time is needed.

IMG_3734

Please print, fill out, and mail in the form relevant to your research request.

Address your requests to:

Berks History Center ATTN: HJL, 940 Centre Ave, Reading, PA 19601

We ask that you refine your inquiries as much as possible, limiting them to searches for specific information about a Berks County topic. Instead of simply requesting all documents related to Joe Smith, provide any dates you may know, the names of spouses and/or children, and specific information you seek. For Genealogy Requests, please limit your search to one surname in Berks County.

While we cannot guarantee results, we will make every effort to help you by documenting all sources consulted during our research. Staff and volunteers will indicate if additional research time is needed, and we will often note where further information can be found.

We answer research requests on a first come, first serve basis. We do our best to respond to requests within 2 to 3 weeks, but processing time can average 4 to 6 weeks during busy seasons.

If you have additional questions about BHC’s Personalized Research Service, please contact us at library@berkshistory.org.

Document Retrieval Services

Our team can pull and copy documents from our collection. 

  • $8.00 for church, cemetery, and Historical Review lookups
  • $8.00 for all other files up to 10 pages, additional pages $0.50 per page for items that are inventoried
  • $15.00 for all other files up to 10 pages, additional pages $0.50 per page for items that have NOT been inventoried

Please print, fill out, and mail in the form to:

Berks History Center ATTN: HJL, 940 Centre Ave, Reading, PA 19601

PLEASE NOTE:  We cannot copy more than ten percent of the pages from any single book due to copyright restrictions. In addition, there are instances when we cannot copy a work due to its condition, size, or copyright/access restrictions. The final decision in regard to what can or cannot be copied is at the discretion of the Archivist.