New York Records Online: The NYG&B eLibrary Tutorial

Monday, July 10, 2017 - 10:30am

The New York Genealogical and Biographical Society has nearly fifty digital record collections, which contain over one million names.

Visit the NYG&B eLibrary to see our wide variety of record sets, which include birth, marriage and death records, religious records, every issue of our periodicals that have ever been published, and more. 

This article will show you how to get the most out of our digital library - for members, this is a great place to start taking advantage of your NYG&B membership. Even if you aren't a member, you can still view information about our collections, why they're important, and what areas and time periods they cover. 

For those looking for a brief overview, we suggest watching this video. The full article below goes into slightly more depth, but the video covers all of the important points:



How to get to the eLibrary

The eLibrary is located under the "Collections and Research" heading of our main menu: 


Note that the "NYG&B Collections" option refers to the NYG&B's physical archival collections, now accessible at the New York Public Library. All digital record sets can be found in the eLibrary.


The eLibrary homepage

When you click on the menu link to the eLibrary, you will be taken to the eLibrary homepage. On this page, you can click to view a list of all digital record sets right away by clicking the button labeled View All Collections:


If you keep scrolling down the eLibrary homepage, you will see a few more sections further down the page:


The three boxes at the top of the image are popular locations that many NYG&B members visit frequently - we want it to be easy for our members to access the most frequently used resources in just a few clicks.  

New York Religious Records is a very popular and essential record set that can only be found in the NYG&B eLibrary. Click the button in this square to go directly to the record set page.

Members who prefer the organization of the eLibrary on the old can click the button in the middle box to see a listing of digital record sets as they used to be organized. 

The Record is the largest collection in the NYG&B eLibrary - clicking the button in this square will bring you right to the record set.

Continuing down the page, we find two very useful sections:

Find What You're Looking For: If you're looking for a particular eLibrary collection and you know the name, you can type it into the eLibrary Collection Search field and the website will perform a search of all eLibrary record set titles and descriptions. This is also helpful if you are searching for a certain type of record. For example, you can enter the term "cemetery" and see all collections in the eLibrary that contain that word in the title or description. 

Below the search field, you can also browse eLibrary collections by location or subject. Open up the drop-down menus and select the location or subject you're interested in, and you'll see a list of all eLibrary record sets that have been categorized under that term. Note: If a collection covers every county in New York State, the location will be "New York State" - if you're browsing by location and you don't find any resources for a particular county, make sure to look under "New York State." 

Popular Record Sets: This section will show a changing list of record sets that are currently popular with NYG&B members. This is a great place to discover record sets that have been recently added, recently updated, or that you have never used before. Click the title to learn more about each record set. 


Browsing the eLibrary collections

Whether you click the View All Collections button, or enter a search or select a subject/location, you will be taken to the Browse eLibrary Collections page: 


By default, you will see an A-Z listing of all of our digital record sets. For each record set, you will see the name, type of record (subject), date range (if applicable) and whether the record set is searchable or image only. 

You can filter based on subject, location or format. Just click on one of the drop-down menus, choose the option you would like to filter by and click the Apply button. You can apply more than one filter at once, but they will be applied in an AND fashion, meaning the record sets returned after clicking Apply will have to meet all of the criteria selected. 

Important location note: Please note that when a record set covers every county in New York State, we have not classified the record set with all 62 counties, but have instead categorized as "New York State." If you don't find any record set dedicated to a particular county you're looking for, we recommend exploring records tagged with the New York State location - we do have every New York State county covered by at least several digital record sets. 


Site Search: The fastest way to find what you're looking for

The Browse eLibrary Collections page is a great way to peruse our digital record sets and see what's available. But if you know exactly what you're looking for, it may not be the most efficient way to get to the record set you want. 

If you have a good idea of the record set name or know the type of record set you're seeking (e.g. naturalization records), we recommend using our site search. No matter where you are on our website, there will be a search bar in the upper right-hand corner of the screen. 

It's important to note that this search will search content on our website based on keyword - this is not a name-based search for our digital records. To use it, enter any term - the name of a location, a type of record, or the name of a known record set - and click the magnifying glass icon to the right of the text field. You will see a list of results from across our website: 


After you enter your search, the search results page will display every page on our website that matched your search query. The most relevant results will be at the top. 

On the left-hand side of the screen, you can filter results based on what type of content you would like to see. In our example, we're seeking with eLibrary collections, so we would click on "eLibrary Collection (33)" to see all eLibrary collections that matched our search term. 


Searching the record sets 

When you click on the title of a record set in the eLibrary, you will be taken to that record set's page. This page will contain a brief and detailed description of what is in the record set, along with links to helpful Knowledge Base articles, webinars or other resources that will aid your search: 


To perform a search on the record set, simply click the "search" button underneath the title of the record set. If you would like to browse images within the record set based on other criteria - county, year, congregation, volume - click the Browse button. 

After clicking search or browse, you'll be taken over to, where the NYG&B eLibrary images are stored and can be searched. If you aren't signed in, you will be asked to quickly verify your NYG&B membership so that will clear you for access to NYG&B records.


Search with ease after activating your Findmypast voucher

All NYG&B members receive a complimentary voucher to activate a "Starter Plus" subscription on Findmypast. Doing so opens up access to a number of essential record sets, and makes accessing the NYG&B eLibrary a breeze.

While it is possible to search eLibrary record collections without activating your Findmypast voucher, we highly recommend using the individual voucher code we send you to create an account on 

Not only will the voucher allow you seamless access to record sets you find in the eLibrary, but it will also open up all of Findmypast's Noth American records, as well as their U.K. and Irish censuses. Click here to read a more detailed overview of what records NYG&B members get access to. Click here and sign in to see your Findmypast voucher and activation isntructions


Searching individual record collections 

When you click through to search a record set, you will see a standard genealogy record set search page, which will look slightly different depending on which record set you're searching. Below is an example of the search page for the Religious Records, New York State (1716-1914) record set: 


Here, you can search by name or keyword, and filter based on a number of criteria - in this case, denomination, county or church. To apply a filter to your search, begin typing the word into the text field, and you will see it appear as an option to select below:


It's important to note that you must click on the filter name in order to apply it to your search. In the above example, you need to click on "Westchester County" to apply the filter to your search.

You can tell the filter has been applied once it appears in an elongated ellipse: 


When you're ready to search, click the blue button at the bottom of the screen to see the results:


The results will display some contextual information about each record that has been returned, along with a link to view the image of the page the query was found on. To see the image, click the blue button on the right-hand side of the screen. 


Returning to your favorite record sets 

Do you have a few record sets that you find yourself always returning to? If that's the case, there is an easy way for members to save their most commonly used record sets in an easy-to-access location.

You will notice that many pages on our website have a button labeled Add to Favorites:


If you click this button when you're signed in, that page will be conveniently saved to a list on your Member Dashboard. You will often be taken right to your Member Dashboard as soon as you log in to the site.

You can always access it when you're signed in by clicking the link in the upper right-hand corner of your screen: 


In the top row of your Member Dashboard, you'll see a section labeled My favorites. Each time you click the Add to Favorites button, those pages will be saved to this list: 


Clicking the title will bring you straight to the page you added to your favorites. This makes it easy to bookmark anything on our site - a webinar, a Knowledge Base article, a record set, or any useful page - and return to it as soon as you sign on to our website. 

We hope this was a useful introduction to searching using the NYG&B eLibrary. Ultimately, the best way to get the most out of our eLibrary is to get in there to explore.

Search around your favorite record set, or browse the collections to see if we have something you never even knew about. 


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