New online records are now available for those researching their families in New York City - the NYPL Digital Collections have recently added more New York City directories to their already substantial collection.
City directories are vital resources for researchers because they can provide more detail than early census records (and a few of the NYPL's most recent additions pre-date the first U.S. Federal Census), and are instrumental in tying a family to a particular location at a specific point in time.
Furthermore, they can be vital resources for distinguishing between families with similar names, which is a common problem in a city as densely populated as New York.
City directories for the following years have been recently added the City Directories Collection:
- 1884 - 1886
- 1908 - 1913
- 1916 - 1918
- 1920 - 1922
Overall, the NYPL has 137 years of New York City directories, covering years from 1786 through 1923.
The digitization project began in 2016 and substantial progress has been made uploading directories since then - the most recent uploads are especially useful for researchers, as they cover the latest and earliest years of the collection.
The eighteenth-century directories are particularly useful, as detailed (and digitized) sources for those time periods can be very difficult to come by.
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Researchers should visit the main City Directories Collection page, and sort by title (not "date created") in order to see the directories sorted by year of coverage.
The New York Public Library blog has an in-depth article about the digitization project, which includes a tour and tutorial on using the digital collection. Click here to read it.
For more information about New York City directories in general, see the NYPL's blog on city directories from 2012. This article contains information about what kind of information city directories contained in various time periods, and how precisely to use them for family history (and general historical) research.