New York Archives, Libraries, and Societies

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This entry was originally written by Roger D. Joslyn, CG, FUGA, FGBS, FASG for Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources.

This article is part of
NewYork sil.png
the New York Family History Research series.
History of New York
New York Vital Records
Census Records for New York
Background Sources for New York
New York Maps
New York Land Records
New York Probate Records
New York Court Records
New York Tax Records
New York Cemetery Records
New York Church Records
New York Military Records
New York Periodicals, Newspapers, and Manuscript Collections
New York Archives, Libraries, and Societies
New York Immigration
New York Naturalization
Ethnic Groups of New York
New York County Resources
Map of New York

New York State Archives The State Education Department Cultural Education Center, Rm. 3043* Empire State Plaza Albany, NY 12230 The New York State Archives was the last state archives to be established in the United States. It houses land and court records, military and tax records, New York state vital records indexes, pre-settlement survey maps, and legislative records. See Guide to Records in the New York State Archives (1993) and the online catalog at the archives’ website. (*This is a temporary location during renovation of the archives’ home on the eleventh floor, slated for reopening in the fall of 2004.)

New York State Library Cultural Education Center, 7th Floor Empire State Plaza Albany, NY 12230 The state library has a large collection of published and manuscript material on New York, including genealogies and local histories, federal and state censuses, city directories, and periodicals. It is also one of the two depositories for the State of New York DAR collection. There is a published guide to the library called Gateway to America (see Background Sources). The Eighth Annual Report of the New York State Education Department and the New York (State) State Library Annual Report 94th, both for 1911, reported the loss and salvage following the library’s disastrous fire that year. An annotated copy of the latter is in the manuscript division of the state library. (See Harry Macy, Jr., “The 1911 State Library Fire and Its Effect on New York Genealogy,” The NYG&B Newsletter, 10 [1999]: 19-22.)

The New-York Historical Society 170 Central Park West New York, NY 10024-5194 Probably best known to genealogists for its manuscript collection, The New-York Historical Society has newspapers, city directories, maps, original deeds and other documents, and prints and photographs. The guide to its manuscript collections is currently out of print. Some of the society’s holdings were published in its Collections from 1811 to 1975. From 1917 to 1980, the society also published The New-York Historical Society Quarterly, revived in 2003 as The New-York Journal of American History.

The New York Public Library 5th Ave. and 42nd St. New York, NY 10018 The New York Public Library is not only a tremendous library for New York research, but also contains substantial amounts of material on the rest of the country and the world. Besides genealogy and local history, the public library has newspapers, federal and state censuses, church records, city and telephone directories, and divisions for maps, manuscripts, Jewish, and other material. For the published and some of the manuscript material, see Dictionary Catalog of the Local History and Genealogy Division, 18 vols. (Boston: G. K. Hall, 1974), and four supplements. More current acquisitions are accessed through the library’s online catalog at <>. Timothy Field Beard, a former reference librarian in the Local History and Genealogy Division, with Denise Demong compiled How to Find Your Family Roots (New York: McGraw Hill, 1977), which includes New York Public Library call numbers in its bibliography. A list of area researchers is available from the library on request.

The New York Genealogical and Biographical Society 122 East 58th St. New York, NY 10022-1939 A private society, the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society publishes a newsletter (The New York Researcher) and a scholarly quarterly, The New York Genealogical and Biographical Record. Its library holds much New York State and related material, both for New England and the Mid-Atlantic states. For New York there are censuses, federal and state; land and probate records; a large manuscript collection of church, cemetery, Bible, and other records; and an extensive amount of published family and local histories. The library subscribes to many online databases and makes ProQuest, with the fully word-searchable New York Times (1851–2001), and HeritageQuest Online, available to its members through remote access. Nonmembers can use the library for a small fee, but only members have access to the stacks, manuscripts, and microforms. The library provides a list of area researchers.

Municipal Archives Department of Records and Information Services 31 Chambers St. New York, NY 10007 Holdings of early New York City records are described in various sections of this chapter.

Onondaga County Public Library 447 South Salina St. Syracuse, NY 13202-2494 With one of the largest collections of genealogical material in the state, it has a fine collection of published works, manuscripts, and specialized indexes, including New York State vital records (see Vital Records).

Central New York Genealogical Society Box 104, Colvin Station Syracuse, NY 13205 While the society does not maintain a library, it publishes Tree Talks, a very fine journal of abstracted source material.

Western New York Genealogical Society, Inc. 5859 S. Park Ave. P.O. Box 338 Hamburg, NY 14075-0338 The society’s journal consists of many useful source records and articles about the eight counties it covers (see Periodicals). Volumes 1–28 of the journal (1974–2001) are available from the society on CD-ROM.

Among the other libraries in the state with large collections of New York material are the Brooklyn Historical Society (formerly Long Island Historical Society), 128 Pierrepont St., Brooklyn, NY 11201 <>; Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society, 25 Nottingham Ct., Buffalo, NY 14216 <>; Montgomery County Department of History and Archives, Old Courthouse, Railroad St., Fonda, NY 12068 <>; New York State Historical Association, West Lake Rd., P.O. Box 800, Cooperstown, NY, 13326-0800 <>; the Long Island Division of the Queens Borough Public Library, 89-11 Merrick Boulevard, Jamaica, NY 11432 <>; the Long Island Studies Institute at Axinn Library, at Hofstra University, 619 Fulton St., Hempstead, NY 11550-1090 <>; and Rochester Public Library, 115 S. Ave., Rochester, NY 14604 <>.