Genealogical Research at The New York Public Library
The Milstein Division of United States History, Local History & Genealogy is one of the largest genealogical collections freely open to the public. What follows is a selective list of resources with an emphasis on New York City. Unless noted otherwise, all sources cited are located in the Milstein Division (Room 121). Many of the microform titles are self-service in the Milstein Microform Reading Room 119.
The NYPL Online Catalog includes all of the books, periodicals and microforms in the Milstein Division, both current and retrospective, including all of the newly acquired materials from the New York Genealogical & Biographical Society Library.
All public reading rooms in the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building offer access to computers featuring a Selected Electronic Resources menu. Library licensed subscription databases and notable free Internet sites are listed under the topic Genealogy. Among the databases we subscribe to for free and unlimited on-site use by the public are:
America's Historical Newspapers allows users to search more than 1,000 U.S. historical newspapers published between 1690 and 1922, including titles from all 50 states. Created by Readex through partnerships with the American Antiquarian Society, Library of Congress, Wisconsin Historical Society and others, America's Historical Newspapers enables researchers to explore virtually every aspect of America during the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries.
Databases of the New England Historic Genealogical Society. Highlights include full-text access to the New England Historical and Genealogical Register from 1847 to 1994 and the Massachusetts Vital Records to 1910.
Access to more than 5 billion names in more than 4,000 genealogical databases including Census Records, Passenger Lists and UK & Ireland records. Library version of Ancestry.com.
Produced by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), this site searches genealogical records worldwide including Ancestral Files, International Genealogical Index, and census and other vital statistics sources.
Searchable digitized images of millions of historical primary documents relating to the Revolutionary War, Civil War, WWI, WWII, U.S. Presidents, historical newspapers and naturalization documents, many from the National Archives.
Search U.S. Federal Census records, digitized family and local history books, an index to genealogical and local history periodicals, Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty Land Warrant Application Files and the Freedman's Bank Records, 1865-1874.
Provides access to: Atlanta Constitution (1868-1942), the Atlanta Daily World (1931-2003), Boston Globe (1872-1927), Chicago Defender (1905-1975), Chicago Tribune (1849-1986), the Guardian & Observer (1791- 2003), the Hartford Courant (1764-1984), Los Angeles Sentinel (1934-2005), Los Angeles Times (1881-1986), New York Amsterdam News (1922-1993), New York Times (1851-2006), New York Tribune (1841-1922), Pittsburgh Courier (1911-2002), the San Francisco Chronicle (1865-1922), Wall Street Journal (1889-1992), Washington Post (1877-1993), ProQuest Civil War Era database including New York Herald (1840-1865).
New York City Vital Records Indexes
- Manhattan Alphabetical Death Index Cards, 1868-1890
- Brooklyn, Kings County, Index to Deaths, 1848-1898
- Richmond County, Index to Deaths, 1847-1897
- Index to NYC Deaths, 1888-1982 (all boroughs, 1898-1982)
- Coroner's inquisitions, New York, NY, 1823-1898
- Index to NYC Marriages (Grooms), 1888-1937 (all boroughs, 1898- )
- Index to Marriages (Brides), 1869-1937 (Manhattan, Bronx, Queens, Richmond)
Free online NYC vital records indexes for many years at the Italian Genealogical Group.
Ancestry Library Edition has digital images and every-name indexes to all years of the Federal census. Other databases for the Federal census: HeritageQuest Online, Footnote and Family Search.
Microfilms in the Milstein Division Microform Room (Room 119)
- New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, 1790-1880
- New York, New Jersey, Mortality Schedules, 1850-1880 (Online via Ancestry Library Edition)
- New York 1900
- New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Puerto Rico, 1910
- New York, Puerto Rico, 1920, 1930
- Soundex Index: 1880 (NY, NJ, Conn.); 1900 (NY); 1920 (NY, PR)
New York State Census
We have all available New York State Census Records on microfilm for all counties. These microfilms are in the Milstein Microform Room (Room 119).
Below is a list for New York City ONLY:
- 1855: Majority of counties, but among those lacking: Queens, Suffolk, Westchester
- 1865/1875: Kings and Richmond Counties
- 1892: Kings County (Online at FamilyHistory.org)
- 1905: New York (Bronx), Kings, Westchester
- 1915/1925: New York, Bronx, Kings, Queens, Richmond, Nassau, Suffolk, Westchester
1890 New YorkCity "Police" Census
Includes Manhattan and the Bronx, available in Milstein Microfilm, Room 119. Searchable by address.
Note: Ancestry Library Edition has indexed a small number of books of the “Police” Census.
New Jersey State Census
N.J. State Census, 1855, 1865/75, 1885, 1895, 1905, 1915 available in Milstein Microfilm, Room 119.
Note: Ancestry Library Edition has indexed and digitized the 1895 New Jersey State Census.
Ancestry Library Edition’s Immigration Collection: indexed & digitized lists including:
- New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957
- Boston Passenger Lists, 1891-1943
- Philadelphia Passenger Lists, 1883-1945
- Atlantic Ports Passenger Lists, 1820-1873, 1893-1959
- Baltimore Passenger Lists, 1820-1948
- California Passenger & Crew Lists, 1893-1957
- Hamburg Passenger Lists, 1850-1934
- New Orleans Passenger Lists, 1820-1945
- Border Crossings: Canada to U.S., 1895-1956
- U.S. Passport Applications, 1795-1925
Free website: New York Castle Garden, 1850-1891 AND Ellis Island, 1892-1924
Printed indexes in the Milstein Reading Room (Room 121)
- Filby, P. William. Passenger and Immigration Lists Index.
- The Famine Immigrants: Lists of Irish Immigrants Arriving at the Port of New York, 1846-1851.
- Germans to America: Lists of Passengers Arriving at U.S. Ports, 1840- 1897.
- Italians to America: Lists of Passengers Arriving at U.S. Ports, 1880-1899.
- Migration from the Russian Empire: Lists of Passengers Arriving at the Port of NY, 1875-1891.
Microfilms in the Milstein Microform Room (Room 119)
- Registers of Vessels Arriving at the Port of New York from Foreign Ports, 1789-1919
- Registers and Indexes for Passport Applications, 1810-1906
- Passenger lists & index of the Holland-America Line, 1900-1940
- Index to Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at New York, NY 1820-1846 (also on Ancestry)
- Index to Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at New York, NY 1897-June 30, 1902
- Index (Soundex) to Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at New York, NY July 1902-1943
- Digitized petitions, US District Court, Eastern District of New York, 1865-1937 [in progress]
- Digitized petitions, US District Court, Southern District of New York, 1897-1944 [in progress]
- Index to Declarations of Intention, US District Court, Southern District of New York, 1917-1950
- Index to Petitions, US District Court [and Circuit Court], Southern District of New York, 1824-1941
Ancestry Library Edition
- Index to some petitions, 1792-1989, filed in various federal, state, & local courts in New York City
- Index to petitions compiled by the New York County Supreme Court (Manhattan) 1907-1924
Naturalization indexes for Greater New York - the Italian Genealogical Group.
Naturalization index, Kings County Clerk's, 1907-1924 - the Jewish Genealogical Society.
Microfilms in the Milstein Microform Reading Room 119
- Naturalization Certificates, 1794-1906 & Index to Naturalizations, 1906-1941 (Queens)
- Record of Declarations of Intention, 1906-1926 (Queens)
- Declarations Index 1914-1952 & Petitions Index, 1914-1932 (Bronx)
US Military Sources
Ancestry Library Edition’s Military Records collection includes:
- Civil War Collection including indexes to Service and Pension Records
- WW I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918
- WW II Army Enlistment Records, 1938-1946
- WW II “Old Men’s” draft, 1942
- Revolutionary War Pension Files and Service Records
- The Civil War Confederate Soldier Service Records AND Southern Claims Commission
D.A.R. and Loyalist Sources
NYPL is a depository for New York State D.A.R. Genealogical Records Committee publications of New York Bible, Cemetery, & Vital records. We also hold extensive collections of American Loyalist Claims.
- Griffith’s Valuation, 1848-1864 searchable online in the database Origins Network.
- Tithe Applotment Books, 1823-1832 [Microfilm] (Ancestry database has index to Northern Ireland)
- New York Emigrant Savings Bank Records searchable online in Ancestry Library Edition
African American Sources
- African-American Newspapers: the 19th Century
- ProQuest Historical African-American Newspapers: Atlanta Daily World (1931-2003), Chicago Defender (1905-1975), Los Angeles Sentinel (1934-2005), New York Amsterdam News (1922-1993), and Pittsburgh Courier (1911-2002)
- Freedman’s Bank Records - Searchable in HeritageQuest Online
- Danish West Indies, Slavery and Emancipation Records, 1672-1917. Searchable in Footnote
- U.S. Virgin Islands Census, 1835-1911 (Danish Period); Slave Registers of former British Colonial Dependencies, 1812-1834; U.S. Virgin Islands, St. Croix Slave Plantation and Head Tax Lists, 1772-1821 (only browsable; not indexes by name). Searchable online in Ancestry Library Edition
- Barbour Collection of Connecticut Vital Records to 1850. Searchable in Ancestry Library Edition
- Hale Collection, 1750-1865 [CT marriage & death notices & tombstone inscriptions on microfilm]
- Massachusetts Vital Records Microfiche Series. Searchable online in New England Ancestors
All New York (City and State) city directories through 1930s self-service in Milstein Microform Reading Room 119.
Extensive microform collection of city directories of other U.S. cities, request in Room 121.
Back files of telephone directories available in the Microforms Division (Room 100). Footnote has digitized major US City Directories
Searchable full-text and digital images of newspapers at the Library:
- New York Times, 1851-2005
- New York Tribune, 1841-1922
- New York Herald, 1840-1865
- The Hartford Courant (1764-1984)
- Boston Globe, 1872-1927
- Chicago Tribune, 1849-1986
- Los Angeles Times, 1881-1986
- San Francisco Chronicle (1865-1922)
- Washington Post, 1877-1992
- America’s Historical Newspapers, 1690-1922
- Times of London, 1785-1985
- UK Guardian & Observer (1791-2003)
- Brooklyn Eagle Online, 1841-1902
- New York Sun, 1879-1910 & New York Evening World, 1890-1909 available at free website called Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers
New York Evening Post: Deaths/Marriages 1801-1890 in Ancestry & New England Ancestors
Maher, James P. Index to marriages and deaths in the New York herald, 1835-1870
New York Herald Index, 1835-1918 (available in Microforms Division, Room 100)
Family Histories and Periodicals
The Library's large collection of family histories and subscription to hundreds of genealogical journals as well as some family newsletters are searchable in the NYPL Catalog [https://catalog.nypl.org/search].
- HeritageQuest Online gives full-text access to 25,000 books of genealogies & local histories, and includes PERSI, an index to genealogical and local history periodicals.
- New York County Histories Online includes full-text histories of all counties in New York State.
- Google Books includes many pre-1923 full-test genealogies and local histories from NYPL and other libraries
Photographic Views of New York City, 1870s-1970s and other selected photographs, from a collection of available online for free at NYPL Digital Gallery. The Digital Gallery may also be browsed by Division.
This has been a very selective list of materials available to family historians in The New York Public Library. Additional sources will be encountered by visitors to the Irma and Paul Milstein Division of United States History, Local History and Genealogy. Other divisions of the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building which contain resources useful to those engaged in genealogical research are the Manuscripts and Archives Division, the Dorot Jewish Division, the Map Division, and the Microforms Division.