New York County Resources

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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
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the New York Family History Research series.
History of New York
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Census Records for New York
Background Sources for New York
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New York Land Records
New York Probate Records
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New York Periodicals, Newspapers, and Manuscript Collections
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Since 1919 New York has had a system of local historians who are appointed to collect and preserve old records. While each county, town, and village should have a historian, not all vacancies are always filled, and of those that are, the knowledge and helpfulness in answering inquiries varies. In most cases it is best to start with the county historian, whose office may contain original or transcribed county, church, cemetery, newspaper, and other material, and in some cases, specialized indexes to these and other types of records. See Directory of New York State County and Municipal Historians (n.p., 1991), available for $20 from Directory, RFD #2, Box 228, Bath, NY 14810. A list of county historians can be found at

Publication of town records is not widespread, with the exception of those for Queens (including Nassau), Suffolk, and Westchester counties. Various items from town records have been presented in Tree Talks (see Periodicals). See also Harold R. Nestler, A Bibliography of New York State Communities: Counties, Towns, Villages (Port Washington, N.Y.: Ira J. Friedman, 1968).

Some New York counties have set up record centers or archives such as are found in Broome, Cayuga, Montgomery, Ontario, Rockland, Ulster, Warren, Washington, Westchester, and other counties. While most initial inquiries about records should be made with the county clerk and county Surrogate’s clerk, the information sought might actually now be housed in a county records center/archives. This practice will doubtless continue in New York, especially for older records.

All the counties in New York, past and present, are listed below. The first column indicates the map coordinates. The name of the county and the mailing address of the county clerk, who is in charge of deeds, mortgages, copies of marriage records (1908–ca. 1935), divorces, court records, state censuses, and other records, is in the second column. The year the county was created follows and, where applicable, the parent county or counties from which it was formed. The date the earliest deed was recorded is in the fourth column. County deeds and mortgages not found with the county clerk are also indicated here. The last column shows the date of the earliest county Surrogate Court record, followed by the mailing address of the county Surrogate’s clerk, if not the same as that of the county clerk. Some counties have copies or abstracts of earlier deeds and wills from parent counties.

It should be kept in mind that the names of the parent county or counties are those from which the new county was first formed in the year indicated. Many changes took place later, at which times whole towns or parts of them were annexed to or from the newer county. For example, Yates County was created in 1823 from part of Ontario County; the following year, two towns were added to Yates from Steuben County. For the specifics of other changes, consult gazetteers, county directories, and county histories.

Map County County Address Date Formed Parent County(ies) Deeds Surrogate's Court
Q15 Albany 16 Eagle St., Rm. 128, Albany 12207-1019 1683 original 1656 1787, 16 Eagle St., Albany 12207-1019
C4 Allegany 7 Court St., Belmont 14813-1039 1806 Genesee 1807 1807
H2 Bronx 851 Grand Concourse , Rm. 118, Bronx 10451-2937 1914 New York (Westchester) 1914* 1914, 851 Grand Concourse, Rm. 317
* At the City Register’s Office, 1932 Arthur Ave., Rm 301, Bronx 10457
S11 Broome 44 Hawley St./P.O. Box 2062, Binghamton 13902-2062 1806 Tioga 1806 1806, P.O. Box 1766, Binghamton 13901-1766
C3 Cattaraugus 303 Court St., Little Valley 14755-1028 1808 Genesee 1817 1817
Cattaraugus had no county government until 1817. Its records were first kept in Buffalo, but they were destroyed in 1813 when the British burned the courthouse. In 1812 Cattaraugus was annexed to Allegany County, and from 1814—17 county records for the eastern towns of Olean and Ischua were kept in Belmont and for the western town of Perry, in Buffalo.
Q10 Cayuga 160 Genesee St., Auburn 13021 1799 Onondaga 1799 1799, 153 Genesee St., Auburn 13021-3471
Charlotte (see Washington)
C1 Chautauqua 1 N. Erie St./P.O. Box 170, Mayville 14757-0170 1808 Genesee 1811 1811, 3 N. Erie St., Mayville 14757
Chautauqua was attached to Niagara County until 1811, but records kept in Buffalo were burned by the British in 1813.
S10 Chemung 210 Lake St. , P.O. Box 588, Elmira 14902-0588 1836 Tioga 1836 1836, 224 Lake St. , P.O. Box 588, Elmira 14902-0588
R12 Chenango 5 Court St., Norwich 13815 1798 Herkimer/Tioga 1798 1798
L16 Clinton 137 Margaret St., Plattsburgh 12901-2933 1788 Washington 1788 1790
R16 Columbia 560 Warren St., Hudson 12534 1786 Albany 1786 1787, 401 Union St., Hudson 12534
Cornwall 1683 original
Located in Maine, this county was transferred to Massachusetts in 1686, but no longer exists in name. See Collections of the Maine Historical Society, first series, vol. 5 (1857).
Q11 Columbia 560 Warren St., Hudson 12534 1786 Albany 1786 1787, 401 Union St., Hudson 12534