New York State Library

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New York State Cultural Center2.jpg

Contact Information[edit | edit source]

E-mail:  Use the form at the Contact link to email reference requests to the library. Read their instructions about making requests.[1]


New York State Library
Cultural Education Center
222 Madison Avenue
Albany, NY 12230

Telephone:  ((518) 474-5355 - General information. Local History/Genealogy Desk - (518) 474-5161  

Hours and holidays:  The library's reference desk can be reached from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Saturday, except holidays. Material is retrieved for research at 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. daily. Some collections, however, are stored off-site and may require several business days to retrieve. Arrangements should be made prior to visiting the Library.

Directions, maps, and public transportation:
Parking, maps, driving directions, public transportation.

Internet sites and databases:

  • New York State Library Home Page
    Logo wcmasthead en.png
  • NY State Library catalog online and in WorldCat.
  • Repository database.  The Digital Collections of the New York State Library include a large array of 18th and 19th century historical materials from many subject areas, including the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, Native American materials, New York State laws and natural history. While books make up the core collection, Digital Collections also include primary source materials such as letters, diaries and rare manuscripts as well as historic photographs, illustrations, maps, broadsides, drawings and music scores.

Collection Description[edit | edit source]

The New York State Library has several areas of interest to family history researchers. 

The Local History and Genealogy Section which includes:

  • family genealogies
  • local histories include periodicals and genealogical journals; published county, town and municipal histories.  
  • DAR records. The New York State Library is a depository for several record series compiled by New York State Chapters of the Daughters of the American Revolution
  • church records. The Library has an extensive collection of New York State church (Protestant denominations only). 
  • state census records for various counties. Censuses include 1825, 1835, 1845, 1855, 1865, 1875. 1892, 1905, 1915, 1925
  • early newspapers on film including the New York State Newspaper Project GIS database
  • city directories and telephone books on microfilm and microfiche. For an alphabetical list of towns and years covered Click here
  • other materials such as cemetery records, periodicals, published records of towns and municipalities.
  • card file indexes include:
    • city directory index
    • surname index: 60 drawers that index  genealogies and local histories in the State Library taken from books, articles, pamphlets, manuscripts, Bible records (including the 264 vol. compiled by the DAR), family genealogies cataloged through 1980
    • vital records index: eight drawers that index New York State church, cemetery and local government records owned by the State Library. The vital records card index is arranged alphabetically by county, and then by community within county. It includes: wills, censuses, tax lists, Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) records, and obituaries.  
    • city directory index
    • local history index
  • Military records incuding recores pre-Civil War, Civil War and after for New York State, and Loyalist records
  • Will abstracts and microfilms  for many parts of New York, though it is not the official repository for such items.

The Manuscripts and Special Collections The Manuscripts and Special  Collections Unit of the NYSL, established in 1881, contains manuscripts, rare books, maps and atlases, prints and photographs, broadsodes and posters.
For Finding Aids to Special Collections, Click Here.

Record Loss[edit | edit source]


March 1911: Albany, NY fire destroyed the State Capitol Building including part of the State Library. Losses included twenty-three manuscript folio volumes of the famous official records of the governors of the city of New Amsterdam, covering a period from 1630 to 1674, the correspondence of Governor George Clinton, 5,000 pieces in all, and the original letters of Sir William Johnson, and Governor Daniel D. Tompkins.[2]

For suggestions about research in places that suffered historic record losses, see:

Tips[edit | edit source]

Guides[edit | edit source]

Bibliographies, Guides and Indexes to New York State Documents and Related Resources

Alternate Repositories[edit | edit source]

If you cannot visit or find a source at the New York State Library, a similar source may be available at one of the following.

Overlapping Collections

  • New York Public Library Genealogy Division has an outstanding collection of American history at national, state and local levels; international genealogy and heraldry in Roman alphabets; Dorot Jewish collection; photos; New York censuses, directories, and vital records.
  • New York Public Library Branches over 90 in New York City.
  • New England Historic Genealogical Society, Boston, national in scope. Over 100 million name database, of vital records, genealogies, journals, over 200,000 books, 100,000 microfilms, and over 20 million manuscripts with emphasis on New England and New York since the 1600s.
  • National Archives at New York City, censuses,, military, pensions, bounty land, photos, passenger indexes, New York port and shipping, naturalizations, inventions.
  • National Archives at Boston (that is Waltham), censuses,, military, pensions, bounty land, photos, passenger indexes, naturalizations, African Americans, Indians.
  • Stadsarchief Amsterdam (Amsterdam Municipal Archives) early Dutch notarial records of New York.

Similar Collections

  • Family History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah, holds 450 computers, 3,400 databases, 3.1 million microforms, 4,500 periodicals, 310,000 books of worldwide family and local histories, civil, church, immigration, ethnic, military, and records of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
  • Allen County Public Library, Fort Wayne, Indiana, premier periodical collection, genealogies, local histories, databases, military, censuses, directories, passenger lists, ethnic collections, and Canadians.
  • Library of Congress, Washington, DC, Local History and Genealogy Reading Room is part of the world's largest library including 50,000 genealogies, 100,000 local histories, manuscripts, microfilms, maps, newspapers, photographs, books, strong in North American, British Isles, and German sources
  • Newberry Library, Chicago, genealogies, local histories, censuses, military, land, indexes, vital records, court, and tax records mostly from the Mississippi Valley, eastern seaboard, Canada, & British Isles.
  • Mid-Continent Public Library Midwest Genealogy Center, Independence, MO, national censuses/indexes, 80,000 family histories, 100,000 local histories, 565,000 microfilms, 7,000 maps, and newspapers.
  • National Archives I, Washington DC, census, pre-WWI military service & pensions, passenger lists, naturalizations, passports, federal bounty land, homesteads, bankruptcy, ethnic sources, prisons.
  • Yad Vashem, Jerusalem, 85,000 volumes about the Jewish Holocaust, largest yizkor book collection.

Neighboring Collections

  • New York State Library, Albany, has local histories, genealogies, atlases, church, cemetery (including DAR), city directories, microfilmed newspapers, censuses, passenger lists, and periodicals.
    • New Netherland Research Center: The New Netherland Research Center (NNRC) provides scholarship and knowledge about the seventeenth-century Dutch colony of New Netherland in North America. The New Netherland Project's primary objective is to complete the transcription, translation, and publication of all Dutch documents in New York repositories relating to the seventeenth-century colony of New Netherland.
  • New York State Archives, Albany, has manuscripts, vital record indexes, land grants, maps, military, court, alien depositions, prisoners, Erie Canal passenger lists, wills, estates, and state censuses.
  • New York Genealogical and Biographical Society, New York City has censuses, city directories, church, cemetery, Bible, land, probates, genealogy, local history, and manuscripts.
  • New York Historical Society manuscripts, newspapers, periodicals, histories, directories, maps, photos.
  • Vital Records Section of the New York State Dept. of Health, Menands, NY, for outside New York City births and deaths (1881-present), and marriage licenses (1880-present). Also, all divorces since 1963.
  • Municipal Archives has New York City birth, death, and marriage records; the 1890 police census; city directories; voter registrations; almshouse records; and municipal government records.
  • Courts: city, state, and federal.
  • Brooklyn Historical Society includes finding aids and collections guides to archives, manuscripts, oral histories, photographs, paintings, oral history database, and maps.
  • Columbia University Libraries, history, biography, ethnic studies, newspapers, government documents.
  • Holland Society 7,000 New Netherland family and local history books, Dutch Reformed Church records.
  • Huguenot Historical Society open by appointment: history, settlement, genealogy, biography, theology.
  • YIVO Institute for Jewish Research East European Jewish immigrant studies, gazetteers, yizkor books (Holocaust town memorial books), biographical directories, Landsmanshaft records.
  • Leo Baeck Insitiute preserves family and community histories about Jews in German speaking countries.

Sources[edit | edit source]

  1. Internet site. New York State Library. (Cited 7 May 2011)
  2. Stu Beitler, "Albany, NY Fire Destroys State Capitol Building, Mar 1911" in at,-ny-fire-destroys-state-capitol-building,-mar-1911 (accessed 26 September 2011).