New York Archives and Libraries

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The following archives, libraries, and societies have collections or services helpful to genealogical researchers.

The New York State Library
Cultural Education Center
Empire State Plaza
Albany, NY 12230
Telephone: 518-474-5355
Fax: 518-474-5786

The Humanities-History section has local histories, genealogies, atlases, church and cemetery records (including the Daughters of the American Revolution collection), city directories, microfilmed newspapers, microfilmed federal and state censuses, microfilmed passenger lists, and periodicals. The Manuscripts and Special Collections Section houses nongovernmental maps and manuscripts. The library staff will make photocopies for a fee.

A guide to the library's holdings of genealogical value is Melinda Yates, comp., Gateway to America: Genealogical Research in the New York State Library, Second Edition, Revised.(Albany, New York: New York State Library, 1982; Family History Library book 974.7 D23y). The New York State Library also has a set of thirteen Genealogical Information Sources, which can be purchased for $7.00. Library materials can be borrowed through the New York State Interlibrary Loan network.

The New York State Archives
Cultural Education Center, 11th Floor
Empire State Plaza
Albany, NY 12230
Telephone: 518-474-8955
Fax: 518-473-9985

The New York State Archives has the original records of New York government jurisdictions. The collection includes manuscripts, statewide vital records indexes, documents relating to land grants, land survey maps, alien deposition records, military records, state court records, prison records, Erie Canal passenger lists for 1827–1829, wills, and estate records. The archives collection also has microfilms of some state censuses and the original census returns for 1915 and 1925.

The Family History Library has very few of the state archives records on microfilm. The state archives makes photocopies and performs limited searches of indexed records for a fee, but it does not circulate microfilms of land and vital records. The guide to the collection is Guide to Records in the New York State Archives (1981; reprint, Albany, New York: New York State Archives, 1982; Family History Library book 974.7 A3ns). An expanded 1993 edition is available from the New York State Archives.

National Archives—Northeast Region
201 Varick Street
Corner Varick and West Houston Streets
New York, NY 10014
Telephone: 212-337-1300
Fax: 212-337-1306

The National Archives—Northeast Region has records created by federal agencies in New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The archives has naturalization records, internal revenue service records, customs lists, and records of the U.S. District Court of Appeals. The archives also has microfilms of all available federal census records, many naturalization records, court records, passenger lists for New York City and other ports, Revolutionary War military records, some Civil War service indexes, and World War I draft registrations. The staff will make photocopies for a fee. The National Archives has announced the records of this branch will be moved to Kansas City, Missouri, by the summer of 1998.

The New York Public Library
U.S. History, Local History & Genealogy Division
Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street, Room 315S
New York, NY 10018-2788
Telephone: 212-930-0829

The library has city and telephone directories, vital records indexes, local histories, genealogies, federal and state censuses, passenger lists, genealogical collections (including DAR transcripts), and church records. For maps, write to the Map Division at the same address. A helpful guide to this important library is Sam P. Williams, Guide to the Research Collections of the New York Public Library (Chicago, Illinois: American Library Association, 1975; Family History Library book 974.71 A3w).

Several extensive catalogs of the Local History and Genealogy Division of the New York Public Library have been published, including one by the New York Public Library: Research Libraries, Dictionary Catalog of the Local History and Genealogy Division, 18 Volumes and four suppelments. (Boston, Massachusetts: G.K. Hall, 1974; Family History Library book Q 974.71 A3nd). Use catalogs from other libraries to find records not available at the Family History Library. Obtain copies through interlibrary loan.

New York City Department of Records and Information Services
Municipal Archives
31 Chambers Street, Room 103
New York, NY 10007
Telephone: 212-788-8580

The Municipal Archives has city birth, death, and marriage records; the 1890 police census; city directories; voter registrations; almshouse records; and municipal government records. When requesting copies of records include a self-addressed stamped envelope. A growing collection of records is available on microfilm at the Family History Library.

New York Genealogical and Biographical Society Library
122 E. 58th Street
New York, NY 10022-1939
Telephone: 212-755-8532
Fax: 212-754-4218

This library has a major collection of New York State genealogy and local history, including both published and manuscript materials. The collection includes federal and state censuses, city directories, church, cemetery, Bible, land, and probate records. Manuscripts acquired before 1940 are also available on microfilm at the Family History Library.

New York Historical Society
170 Central Park West
New York, NY 10024
Telephone: 212-873-3400
Fax: 212-875-1591

The historical society has extensive collections of manuscripts, newspapers, periodicals, histories, city directories, maps, and photographs. A helpful aid is Arthur J. Breton, A Guide to the Manuscript Collections of the New-York Historical Society, Two Volumes. (Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, Inc., 1972; Family History Library book 974.7 H23b).

Brooklyn Historical Society
128 Pierrepont Street
Brooklyn, NY 12201
Telephone: 718-624-0890
Fax: 718-875-3869

Formerly known as the Long Island Historical Society, the Brooklyn Historical Society has an extensive collection of genealogical manuscripts. See Karin N. Mango, compiler, The Long Island Historical Society Calendar of Manuscripts: 1763–1783 (New York, New York: Publishing Center for Cultural Resources, 1980; Family History Library book 974.721 A3L).

Olin-Kroch URIS Library
Cornell University
Ithaca, NY 14853-5301
Telephone: 607-255-5068
Fax: 607-255-9346

Cornell University has a large collection of Protestant church records for western New York as well as an excellent collection of histories, maps, newspapers, and New York censuses.

Montgomery County Department of History and Archives
Old Court House, P. O. Box 1500
Fonda, NY 12068-1500
Telephone: 518-853-8187
Fax: 518-853-8218

This county archives has the largest collection of family genealogies, church record transcripts, local histories, and town records for the Mohawk Valley. A guide to records there is Violet Fallone, compiler, Catalogue of Historical and Genealogical Material in the Montgomery County Department of History and Archives, Revised Edition. (Fonda, New York: Montgomery County Department of History & Archives, 1983; Family History Library book 974.746/F2 A3r; film 1320716 item 2; supplement on fiche 6104017).

New York State Council of Genealogical Organizations
P.O. Box 2593
Syracuse, NY 13220-2593

This council was formed in 1990 for education, publication, communication, and public advocacy in behalf of state genealogical societies and libraries.

Gemeentearchief (Amsterdam Municipal Archives)
Amsteldijk 67
1074 HZ Amsterdam
Telephone: 020-6646916
Fax: 020-6750596

The Amsterdam Municipal Archives contains some early Dutch notarial records that are related to what is now New York.

Addresses of county courthouses, surrogate courts, and county records centers are found in Alice Eichholtz, editor, Ancestry's Red Book: American State, County and Town Sources. Revised edition. (Salt Lake City, Utah: Ancestry, Incorporated, 1992; Family History Library book 973 D27rb 1992). Addresses of county courthouses and some town clerk's offices and surrogate's court offices (along with brief descriptions of holdings and services) are found in Elizabeth Petty Bentley, comp., County Courthouse Book (Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing, 1990; Family History Library book 973 D24bena).

Estelle M. Guzik, editor, Genealogical Resources in the New York Metropolitan Area (New York, New York: Jewish Genealogical Society, Incorporated 1989;  Family History Library book 974.71 A3ge; fiche 6100654) has information on more than 100 archives, including 52 government agencies and courts, 32 libraries, and 20 other archives in the New York metropolitan area.

The Historical Records Survey has published a guide to the records of Albany, Bronx, Broome, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Chemung, Kings, Richmond, and Ulster counties. The series is titled Inventory of the County Archives of New York State, Nine Volumes. (New York, New York: Historical Records Survey, 1937–40). These guides are on microfilm or microfiche and can help you learn more about the history and typical record-keeping systems of New York counties. The Family History Library has all but the guide for Richmond County. All guides are listed in the Family History Library Catalog Locality Search under:


Similar unpublished material for most other counties is at the New York State Archives at

The New York Historical Resources Center at Cornell University, Ithaca, New York is publishing a Guide to Historical Resources for each county in New York. These guides inventory records, including family history and genealogy, at 1,700 historical societies and libraries, but they do not include public records at courthouses. Most guides have been completed and are available at the Family History Library. The information is also available through interlibrary loan from libraries connected to the Research Libraries Information Network (RLIN).

Also see:

Kronman, Barbara. The Guide to New York City Public Records, Fourth Edition. New York, New York: Public Interest Clearinghouse, 1992. ( Family History Library book 974.71 A3k.) Includes chapters on city government, courts, libraries, and personal information. Shows how to obtain vital records, name change records, and naturalizations.

Computer Networks and Bulletin Boards

Computers with modems are important tools for obtaining information from selected archives and libraries. In a way, computer networks themselves serve as a library. The Internet, certain computer bulletin boards, and commercial on-line services help family history researchers:

  • Locate other researchers
  • Post queries
  • Send and receive E-mail
  • Search large databases
  • Search computer libraries
  • Join in computer chat and lecture sessions

You can find computerized research tips and information about ancestors from New York in a variety of sources at local, state, national, and international levels. The list of sources is growing rapidly. Most of the information is available at no cost.

Addresses on the Internet change frequently. As of April 1997, the following sites are important gateways linking you to many more network and bulletin board sites:


A cooperative effort by many volunteers to list genealogical databases, libraries, bulletin boards, and other resources available on the Internet for each county, state, and country.


A useful list of sites and resources. Includes a large, regularly updated research coordination list.

For further details about using computer networks, bulletin boards, and news groups for family history research, see the United States Research Outline, 2nd ed., "Archives and Libraries" section.