New York Metro Area Repository Guide
The New York City area holds many useful repositories for genealogical research. While this is easily the best place to find records of our ancestors that lived in or traveled through this area, the repositories here hold information on families from all over New York State.
The following is a selected alphabetical listing of repositories for genealogy and local history research in the greater New York City area.
A name, website, brief description, location, phone number, and regular hours is provided for each institution (please note that special closings, summer hours, and holidays are not included). Additional information can be found in individual county guides in the NYG&B Knowledge Base.
If you're interested in researching at any of these repositories, you might want to do so while attending our New York State Family History Conference - this year's conference takes place September 13 - 15 in Tarrytown, NY - a short trip away from many of these archives!
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Bronx County Historical Society
The Bronx County Historical Society encourages the “restoration of pride in the Bronx” through the preservation and celebration of both the county’s rich heritage and vibrant contemporary community. The Society maintains two Bronx historical sites: the Museum of Bronx History (located in the colonial-era Valentine-Varian House) and Poe Cottage (Edgar Allen Poe’s final home), in addition to a Research Library and the Bronx County Archives. It offers historical tours of the Bronx and regularly hosts exhibitions, concerts, educational programs, art shows, and lectures relevant to the past and present Bronx County.
Location: 3309 Bainbridge Avenue, Bronx, NY 10467
Phone: (718) 881-8900
Email: [email protected]
Location: 3309 Bainbridge Avenue, Bronx, New York 10467
Phone: (718) 881-8900
Open by appointment only; to schedule, contact the librarian.
The Bronx County Archives
Location: 3313 Bainbridge Avenue Bronx, NY 10467
Phone: (718) 881-8900
Open by appointment only; to schedule, contact the archivist.
Brooklyn Historical Society
When the Brooklyn Historical Society was founded as the Long Island Historical Society in 1863, the city of Brooklyn was the commercial and cultural center of Long Island. Today the Brooklyn Historical Society boasts “the most comprehensive collection of Brooklyn-related materials in existence,” including genealogies, rare books, maps, atlases, newspapers, letters, diaries, business and family papers, records of cultural organizations, and other materials, all of which are available to the public through its research library. The Society also offers regular exhibitions and educational programs. Considering that one in seven Americans can trace his or her family roots to Brooklyn, the Brooklyn Historical Society collections represent an important national resource.
Location: 128 Pierrepont Street, Brooklyn, NY 11201
Phone: (718) 222-4111
Email: [email protected]
Brooklyn Collection, Brooklyn Public Library
The Brooklyn Public Library’s Brooklyn Collection holds photograph collections, including those from the Brooklyn Daily Eagle; Brooklyn Daily Eagle clippings from 1904–1955; the complete run on microfilm of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle from 1841–1955; newspaper clippings from the 1950s to the present; books, maps, atlases, memorabilia, and manuscript collections.
Location: Central Library, Brooklyn Public Library, 10 Grand Army Plaza, Brooklyn, NY 11238
Phone: (718) 230-2762
Center for Jewish History
Opened to the public in 2000, the Center for Jewish History is one of the preeminent public Jewish historical and cultural institutions in the world. Its collections on Jewish life encompass centuries of history and a variety of cultures. In addition, the Center provides access to the FamilySearch database and a collection of microfilm from the LDS Broadway Family History Center. Its constituent organizations include the American Jewish Historical Society, the American Sephardi Federation, the Leo Baeck Institute, the Yeshiva University Museum, and the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research. The Center is also a Family History Center for the Family History Library (FHL).
The Center is also home to the Jewish Genealogical Society. The Society’s website has many resources, including links to naturalization indexes, cemetery lists, and several online databases as well.
Location: 15 West 16th Street, New York, NY 10011
Phone: (212) 294-8301
City of New York
The City of New York has a number of departments and agencies that are responsible for collecting, preserving, and providing access to genealogical records. A comprehensive listing is available at the New York City government website.
Department of Records and Information Services
Through its unique library, the New York City Department of Records and Information Services provides public access to extensive historical and contemporary information related to the city government. The Records Management Division maintains and facilitates the administration, storage, and retrieval of the working records of dozens of city agencies, the courts, and district attorneys. The Municipal Archives preserves and provides public access to the records of the city’s government throughout its four hundred year history, including photographs, moving images, sound recordings, maps, architectural drawings, ledgers, and office records.
The Municipal Archives holds records of births reported in the five boroughs of New York City through 1909; deaths reported thorugh 1948; and marriages reported through 1930. For a complete description of their vital records collection, visit website of the Municipal Archives for a complete list of their holdings.
A comprehensive guide to the collections of the Municipal Archives was published in 2016 by the NYG&B and is avaliable for sale.
Location: Surrogate’s Court Building: Room 103, 31 Chambers Street (at Centre Street), New York, NY 10007
Phone: (311) or (212) NEW-YORK [639-9675]
Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation
Between 1892 and 1924, more than 22 million passengers entered the United States through Ellis Island and the Port of New York. Today the Ellis Island Immigration Museum is a part of the Statue of Liberty National Monument and is one of the country’s most popular historic sites. In 2001, the Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, in partnership with the National Park Service, unveiled the American Family Immigration History Center at Ellis Island. This exciting family research facility provides visitors with advanced computer and multimedia technology, printed materials, and professional assistance for investigating immigration and family history.
Information about each person was recorded in ships’ passenger lists, known as manifests. Visitors to the Ellis Island Museum can search these records for information on individual Ellis Island passengers. The manifests are also available in a database hosted on the Foundation's website.
Location: Statue of Liberty National Monument and Ellis Island, Liberty Island, New York, NY 10004-1467
Phone: (212) 363-3200
FamilySearch (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints)
FamilySearch is a service provided by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which maintains an international network of 4,500 facilities offering public access to genealogical records. In addition to the world’s largest genealogical library, the Family History Library, in Salt Lake City, Utah, the Church maintains locations in more than eighty countries. The New York area is served primarily by the New York Family History Center in Manhattan. The Center houses computer work stations linked to the LDS FamilySearch database, scanners, and microform readers and reader/printers. Many digital records held by FamilySearch are available online. Microform resources from the Central Library in Salt Lake City can be requested for loan at any Family History Center. The nearest Family History to the NYG&B offices is:
New York Family History Center
Location: 125 Columbus Avenue (Broadway at 65th Street), New York, NY 10023
Phone: (212) 799-2414
Additional LDS Family History Centers are located in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Staten Island, and Queens as well as Plainview and Scarsdale, NY, and Morristown, NJ. A full list of Family History Centers across the world is available.
Huntington Historical Society
The purpose of the Huntington Historical Society’s Resource Center and Archives is to discover, collect, preserve, and make available for research books, pamphlets, broadsides, newspapers, periodicals, photographs, maps, atlases, manuscripts, audio-visual and other materials relevant to Huntington town history. The society also collects material on those aspects of American, Northeast, New York, and Long Island history that have substantially involved or affected Huntington. In addition the Resource Center and Archives collects reference material that supports the objectives and programs of the Society and of its museum. The Society holds library and archival materials totaling approximately 5,000 reference books, 128 bound periodical volumes and newspapers, 650 lineal feet of manuscript material, many oral history recordings, 300 maps and atlases, microforms, 15,000 slides, and approximately 250,000 photographs and postcards relating primarily to the town of Huntington, central Long Island and their surroundings.
Location: 209 Main Street, Huntington Village, NY 11743
Phone: (631) 427-7045
New Jersey Room, Jersey City Free Public Library
The New Jersey Room of the Jersey City Free Public Library is a collection of materials about New Jersey, with an emphasis upon Jersey City and Hudson County. The collection includes both current and historical information and numbers about 20,000 volumes. In addition to books, the New Jersey Room contains a complete collection of all published Jersey City and Hoboken city directories dating from 1849 to 1925; an index for the Jersey Journal for the years 1912–1954 and 1969 to the present; a picture collection of over 13,000 images; hundreds of historic and contemporary maps; over 150 periodicals; and files of articles and pamphlets. The historic collection includes most books published in or about Jersey City, plus privately compiled volumes such as church histories. The collection includes many books on other towns in Hudson County and throughout the state. The newspaper index and the city directories are particularly helpful to those researching their family histories. The department recently began preserving its rare map collection, which includes maps of the area dating to the early 18th century. Later maps and atlases may be helpful in determining the age of houses in the city.
Location: 472 Jersey Avenue (Third Floor), Jersey City, NJ 07302
Phone: (201) 547-4503
The New-York Historical Society
The library at the New-York Historical Society is one of the oldest independent research libraries in the United States. Collection strengths include the history of New York City and State; colonial history; history of the Revolutionary War; American military and naval history; history of 18th- and 19th-century religions and religious movements; history of the Anglo-American slave trade and slavery in the United States; history of the Civil War; American biography and genealogy; history of American art and art patronage; history of American architecture from the late 18th century to the present; and 19th- and 20th-century portraiture and documentary photographs of New York City.
The collections include 2 million manuscripts, 500,000 photographs, 400,000 prints, 350,000 books and pamphlets, 150,000 architectural drawings, 20,000 broadsides, 15,000 printed maps, 10,000 newspapers, and 10,000 dining menus.
Location: 170 Central Park West at 77th Street, New York, NY 10024
Phone: (212) 873-3400
Email: [email protected]
New York Public Library
The New York Public Library has a number of major research centers and special collections that are useful for genealogy and family history research. In addition to hold the collections of the NYG&B, the NYPL’s online catalog includes all of the books, periodicals, databases, and special resource materials in all units of the library system, including all research divisions and branch libraries in Manhattan, the Bronx and Staten Island. The catalog can be accessed online. Librarians are available to assist researchers via email, telephone, chat, and text message through AskNYPL.
The Irma and Paul Milstein Division of U.S. History, Local History, and Genealogy
The NYPL’s Irma and Paul Milstein Division of United States History, Local History, and Genealogy is one of the nation’s largest non-membership genealogical collections. Its holdings include documents relating to American history on the national, state, and local levels; genealogical records; and information on heraldry, personal and family names, and flags. Genealogical materials are international in scope, including materials in foreign languages that use the Roman alphabet and genealogical charts.
The Milstein Division’s book and serial collections are supplemented by materials in other formats. Visual resources include photographic and negative collections – primarily of New York City views – and over 100,000 postcards documenting local views across the United States. A local history ephemera collection, including pamphlets, leaflets, etc., provides an excellent source of materials for the study of American cultural, social, and religious history. The Division also collects political campaign ephemera, including broadsides, pamphlets, and candidate position papers.
Additional holdings related to American history and genealogy can be found in the Manuscripts, Archives, and Rare Books Division; the Print Room; and other divisions of The New York Public Library outlined below.
Location: The Steven A. Schwarzman Building, First Floor, Room 121, Fifth Avenue & 42nd Street, New York, NY 10018
Phone: (212) 930-0828
The Lionel Pincus and Princess Firyal Map Division
Established in 1898, the Lionel Pincus and Princess Firyal Map Division today boasts one of the world’s largest, most extensive, and most diverse collections of maps in the world. Its holdings include over 433,000 sheet maps and 20,000 books and atlases, ranging from the 15th to 21st centuries and from the local to the global scale. A selection of maps are available online through the Library’s catalog and its Digital Gallery.
Location: The Steven A. Schwarzman Building, First Floor, Room 117, Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street, New York, NY 10018
Phone: (212) 930-0587
Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture
The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture is a national research library devoted to collecting, preserving, and providing public access to resources that document the experiences of people of African descent throughout the world. The Center contains over ten million items and provides services and programs for constituents from the United States and abroad. It provides access to its collections and professional reference assistance to the scholarly community and the general public through five research divisions, each containing materials in different formats but with a broad range of subjects.
The Center’s collections include art objects, audio and video tapes, books, manuscripts, motion picture films, newspapers, periodicals, photographs, prints, recorded music discs, and sheet music. The Schomburg Center promotes the study of the histories and cultures of people of African descent and interprets its collections through exhibitions, publications and educational, scholarly, and cultural programs.
Location: 515 Malcolm X Blvd. @ 135th Street, New York, NY 10037
Phone: (212) 275-6975
Dorot Jewish Division
The Dorot Jewish Division is responsible for administering, developing, and promoting one of the world’s greatest collections of Hebraica and Judaica. Reference and research services are available in the Jewish studies reading room on the first floor of the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building.
Primary source materials are especially rich in the following areas: Jews in the United States, especially in New York in the age of immigration; Yiddish theater; Jews in the land of Israel through 1948; Jews in early modern Europe, especially Jewish-Gentile relations; Christian Hebraism; anti-Semitism; and world Jewish newspapers and periodicals of the 19th and 20th centuries.
Location: 1st Floor Room 111
Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street
New York, NY 10018
Phone: (212) 930-0601
The Archives at the Queens Library
Extensive holdings of the Archives (formerly the Long Island Collection or Division) include books and manuscripts, city directories (various locations and years, 1796–1934), court records on microfilm, genealogies, local histories, maps, military materials (manuscript and other), serial publications, newspapers(various 1835–present), photographs, broadsides, wills and probate on microfilm, town records on microfilm, and vertical files documenting the history of all of Long Island (Kings, Queens, Nassau, and Suffolk Counties) from the seventeenth century to the present.
Location: 89-11 Merrick Boulevard, Jamaica, NY 11432
Phone: (718) 990-0770
Queens Historical Society
The Queens Historical Society is located in Kingsland Homestead, a colonial farmhouse and museum, and serves as a center for research and education relating to the three hundred year history of Queens, the largest borough of New York City. The Society offers regular lectures, exhibitions, educational programs, and walking tours, and publishes a quarterly newsletter. Its library contains books, maps, atlases, manuscripts, photographs, family papers, and ephemera relating to Queens and the surrounding area.
Location: Weeping Beech Park, 143-135 37th Avenue, Flushing, NY 11354
Phone: (718) 939-0647
Email: [email protected]
Staten Island Historical Society (Historic Richmond Town)
The Staten Island Historical Society generally maintains records from the Colonial period. The Staten Island Institute of Arts and Sciences, located at the Staten Island Museum, generally maintains records from the post-Colonial period. Historical Society holdings include WPA index cards and index names from deed libers; Vosburgh Church Indexes contain copies of church records and tombstone inscriptions copied in the 1930s from a dozen churches (not Catholic) in the Staten Island area. Staten Island directories dating back to 1883/4 are also available, as well as Real Estate and Insurance maps and atlases from the years 1874, 1887, 1898, 1907, 1917 and geographical location photos organized by town, then street. The collection spans a hundred years and extends into the present.
Location: 441 Clarke Avenue, Staten Island, NY 10306
Phone: (718) 351-1611
Email: [email protected]
Staten Island Museum, History Center and Archives
One of New York’s oldest and most diverse cultural institutions, the Staten Island Museum offers exhibitions, programs, and collections that focus on art, science, and history. The Museum’s History Center and Archives offers research opportunities for those interested in genealogy, archaeology, natural history, land planning, transportation, the Staten Island Ferry, and more. The Archives contain more than 55,000 historical photographs, 3,000 maps and atlases, 15,000 books, and a large array of periodicals, oral histories, Institute records, artifacts, and other items relating to Staten Island history and science.
Staten Island Museum
Location: Staten Island Museum, 75 Stuyvesant Place, Staten Island, NY 10301 - 1998
Phone: (718) 727-1135
Email: [email protected]
History Center and Archives
Location: 1000 Richmond Terrace, Snug Harbor Campus, Building H, Staten Island, NY 10301
Phone: (718) 727-1135
National Archives and Records Administration at New York City (NARA-NYC)
The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) is the United States government agency responsible for collecting, preserving, interpreting, and providing access to all official records of the Federal Government that are deemed to have permanent value.
Its stated mission is to serve “… American democracy by safeguarding and preserving the records of our Government, ensuring that the people can discover, use, and learn from this documentary heritage. We ensure continuing access to the essential documentation of the rights of American citizens and the actions of their government. We support democracy, promote civic education, and facilitate historical understanding of our national experience.”
The National Archives operates a central facility in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area and ten regional Federal Record Centers around the country. The NARA-NYC is located in Manhattan and provides access to locally housed records from federal agencies and courts in New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Location: Alexander Hamilton U.S. Customs House, One Bowling Green, 3rd Floor, New York, NY 10004
Phone: Toll free: (866) 840-1752
Email: [email protected]
Westchester County Historical Society, Westchester County Archives and Records Center
The Westchester County Historical Society has the most comprehensive collection of local history and genealogy in the county, and it is housed in a state-of-the art temperature- and humidity-controlled environment. Interesting and important stories await you in its collection of well over 150,000 books, pamphlets, periodicals, newspapers, manuscripts, maps and atlases, and pictures. Located in the Westchester County Archives and Records Center, the Society’s private collection complements the historically significant public records held in the County Archives. All processed items in the Society's collections, as well as those in the County Archives, are available to the public for research free of charge when you visit the reading room. Copies of most items are available at a nominal charge.
Westchester County Historical Society
Location: Westchester County Historical Society, 2199 Saw Mill River Road, Elmsford, NY 10523
Phone: (914) 592-4323
Email: [email protected]
Westchester County Archives
Phone: (914) 231-1500
Email: [email protected]
State of New York
Although the following organizations are not located in the New York Metro Area, they are valuable repositories that all researchers should know about, and certainly hold information pertaining to families from New York City and all over New York State.
The State of New York has a number of departments and agencies that are responsible for collecting, preserving, and providing access to genealogical records. For a comprehensive listing, see the New York State government website.
New York State Department of Health, Vital Records
The Bureau of Vital Records of the New York State Department of Health provides birth and marriage records outside of New York City (1881–present), death records outside of New York City (1880–-present), and divorce records from all of New York State (1963–present). New York State Vital Records does not maintain records filed in Albany, Buffalo, or Yonkers prior to 1914. New York State does file birth records for Queens and Richmond counties for the years 1881 through 1897.
Anyone may obtain records of births that occurred at least 75 years ago and records of marriages and deaths that occurred at least 50 years ago. Access to more recent records is restricted to immediate family members with proof of identity. The Department of Health adds index information only once a year.
The Bureau of Vital Records requires that requests for records needed for genealogical rather than legal purposes be submitted either by mail or on forms obtained and submitted in person at the Department of Health’s Satellite Office in Menands, New York. Applications may also be dropped off in the New York State Archives reading room reception area on the 11th floor of the Cultural Education Center.
Birth and death records are also available from the Local Registrar of the municipality in which the birth or death occurred. Marriage records are available from the Town or City Clerk of the municipality where the marriage license was issued.
Mail service: New York State Department of Health, Vital Records Section/Genealogy Unit, P.O. Box 2602, Albany, NY 12220-2602
Walk-In: 800 North Pearl Street, 2nd Floor - Room 200, Menands, NY 12204
Email: [email protected] (for general comments or questions only)
The New York State Library
The Genealogy Area of the State Library contains an extensive collection of printed histories on individual families. The collection is national in scope, but with an emphasis on New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New England families. Reference works and guides to genealogical research in foreign countries are available, but separate family histories for families outside of the United States are not collected. The Local History and Genealogy Section is one of the busiest sections of the New York State Library. It is used by people who are tracing the history of their families, as well as by professional genealogical researchers, biographers, and historians who are seeking information about the collective history of families or the domestic life of a period in American history. The Library welcomes onsite researchers to use its large collection of genealogical resources, including family genealogies, local histories, DAR records, church records, Census records, early newspapers on film, city directories, and other materials.
In general, genealogical materials cannot be borrowed; they must be used on site at the Library during regular Library hours. Excelsior, the Library’s online catalog, provides access to information about the Library’s collection through author, title, and subject searches. Also listed on Excelsior are records collected during the Historical Documents Inventory, a statewide survey of manuscripts and archives collections held in repositories that are open to the public. These collections are not held at the New York State Library; the name and address of the repository where each item or collection is located can be found on its catalog record.
Location: Cultural Education Center 222 Madison Avenue, Empire State Plaza, Albany, NY 12230
Phone: (518) 474-5161
New York State Archives (NYSA)
The New York State Archives was established in 1971 and opened its doors to the public in 1978. It is a program of the State Education Department, with its main facility located in the Cultural Education Center on Madison Avenue in Albany. There it maintains and provides access to more than 200 million documents that tell the story of New York from the 17th century to the present.
Although the records in the State Archives document functions and activities of State government, many record series contain information relevant to genealogy and family history research, including:
- Indexes to birth, marriage, and death certificates filed with the New York State Department of Health
- Military records documenting the service of individuals who served in the State’s armed forces during the War of 1812, the Civil War, the Spanish-American War, and World War I. Civil War soldiers are listed by name or by regiment.
- Court records and state institution records (However, most of these are not indexed, or are indexed only partially. Therefore, researchers should have specific information about a case or individual before reviewing these records. Access to records concerning individuals in state institutions is restricted by law, but some agencies have developed policies that allow researchers to request permission to use restricted material.)
- Probate records through the Probate Records Pathfinder
- Naturalization Records through the Naturalization Pathfinder
- Records of the New York State Department of Corrections
- State Archives publications on genealogy and naturalization records
Excelsior, the online catalog of the New State Archives and State Library, provides access to all cataloged holdings of both agencies and participating institutions.
Location: Cultural Education Center, 222 Madison Avenue, Empire State Plaza, Albany, NY 12230
Phone: (518) 474-8955
Email: [email protected]
This list was last updated November 8, 2017. Additions, corrections, and other comments regarding the resources on this page may be sent to [email protected].