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Greater New York City Research

United States Gotoarrow.png New York Gotoarrow.png Greater New York City Research

Research in New York City is quite different from the rest of New York State. New York State laws apply to many of the records of value to genealogists, but the keeping of those records differ. It is essential to be familiar with the jurisdictional history of New York City in order to find the records of interest.

JURISDICTIONS

New York City today consists of five boroughs, which were all created in 1898:

• Manhattan • Brooklyn • Bronx • Queens • Staten Island

Each of these boroughs corresponds to an existing “county” as follows:

• Manhattan = New York County • Brooklyn = Kings County • Bronx = Bronx County • Queens = Queens County • Staten Island = Richmond County

The best guide to the development of modern New York City is Harry Macy, Jr., F.A.S.G., F.G.B.S, “Before the Five-Borough City: The Old Cities, Towns and Villages That Came Together to Form ‘Greater New York,’" The NYG&B Newsletter 9(1998): 3-6. This article includes maps that explain the complex origins of modern New York City.

[Select “Research Aid Articles” from The NYGB Newsletter and The New York Researcher are available to members of the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society on the Society’s Website http://www.nygbs.org/public-researchtool. Many of these articles have been updated since their original publication in the paper newsletter.]

An updated version of Harry Macy’s article on New York City Vital Records available at the NYGBS library,[1] originally published in The NYGB Newsletter, 9(1998): 31-33, is also available to members of the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society on the Society’s Website http://www.nygbs.org/public-researchtool. While it deals with records at the NYGBS, it gives useful background information on the location of pre-1898 vital records for each of the Boroughs.

The counties and boroughs that make up Greater New York City are responsible for different sorts of records.[2] The counties of Greater New York City are responsible for the same sorts of records as counties in the rest of the state – land, probate, and court records.

The following table gives a brief overview of which jurisdiction maintained which records:


Borough in 1898
County and date of Creation
Pre-1898, BMD
Vital Records

Post 1898, BMD [3]
Vital Records

Pre-1898
Land, probate, and court record

Post 1898
Land, probate, and court record

Manhattan
New York, 1683
New York City from 1866
New York City Dept of Health
New York County
New York County
Brooklyn
Kings, 1683
Brooklyn City from 1866-1898, other towns in Kings County from 1881-1898
New York City Dept of Health
Kings County
Kings County
Queens
Queens, 1683
All towns in Queens County, 1881-1898
New York City Dept of Health
Queens County
Queens County
Richmond/
Staten Island [4]

Richmond, 1683
All towns in Richmond County, 1881-1898
New York City Dept of Health
Richmond County
Richmond County
Bronx
Bronx, 1912
New York City from 1866 and some towns in Westchester County from 1874-1895
New York City Dept of Health
New York County, towns in Westchester County until 1895 covered by that county
Bronx County


An updated version of Harry Macy’s article on New York City Vital Records available at the NYGBS library,[5] originally published in The NYGB Newsletter, 9(1998): 31-33, is also available to members of the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society on the Society’s Website http://www.nygbs.org/public-researchtool. While it deals with records at the NYGBS, it gives useful background information on the location of pre-1898 vital records for each of the Boroughs.

COUNTIES

The counties of New York City are responsible for the same sorts of records as counties in the rest of the state – land, probate, and court records. Except for a brief period (1908-1935 for marriages only) counties have not been responsible for the recording of vital records.

BOROUGHS

The boroughs of New York City are responsible for the keeping of vital records. An updated version of Harry Macy’s article on New York City Vital Records available at the NYGBS library[6], originally published in The NYGB Newsletter, 9(1998): 31-33, is also available to members of the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society on the Society’s Website http://www.nygbs.org/public-researchtool. While it deals with records at the NYGBS, it gives useful background information on the location of pre-1898 vital records for each of the Boroughs.

Probate Chart and links

From: American Ancestors[7]

"The post-1830 probate petitions are most often found in "Probate Packets" at the surrogate's court in each county, filed with other loose estate papers, such as inventories, accounts, etc. Because such "loose papers" were filed with estates prior to 1830, some packets include records from the beginning of the Surrogate Court system in 1787 or even earlier.

"The Family History Library in Salt Lake City has probate petitions and /or probate packets from 29 of New York's 62 counties. The following table show the years covered and how these records are referenced in the Family History Library Catalog. (FHLC):"

County Packets Notes FHLC
Alleghany 1897–1930 In FHLC as "Surrogates Records"
FHL Film 594805(first of over 500 films)
Cayuga 1799–1905 In FHLC as "Surrogates Records"
FHL Film 861020(first of over 1000 films)
Chautauqua Nil Petitions in "probate of wills books" 1841–1901
FHL Film 810272(first of 17 films) Index available
Chemung 1836–1900 In FHLC as "Estate Papers" FHL Film 869194(Index to 207 films)
Columbia 1830–1880
In FHLC as "will papers" and "administration papers" 1830–1880
FHL Film 587933(first of 77 films)Will papers

FHL Film 479417(first of 37 films)Administration papers

Cortland 1810–1893
In FHLC as "Estate Files" 1810–1893
FHL Film 1819656(first of 27 films)
Delaware 1797–1915
In FHLC as "Estate papers and proceedings, 1797–1900
FHL Film 833575(first of 331 films) Indexed by surname in general index to wills and proceedings. FHL Film 833549–50
Dutchess 1793–1868
In FHLC as "Probate Packets"
FHL Film 913728(first of 120 films) Indexed in General index to surrogate records FHL Film 913654(first of 4 films)
Erie 1800–1929
In FHLC as "Surrogates Records"
FHL Film 925084(first of 891 films) Includes film index FHL Film 925093(first of 10 films)
Genessee Nil
Petitions in "probate books" 1856–1908
FHL Film 811142(first of 6 films) Includes index.
Greene

yes(alpha) 1800–1883+

In FHLC as "Estate papers"
FHL Film 480114(first of 126 films)
Hamilton 1861–1908
In FHLC as "Estate papers"
FHL Film 550037(first of 9 films)
Herkimer 1792–1900
In FHLC as "Estate papers"
FHL Film 847496(first of 300 films) Filed by Last letter of Surname.
Jefferson 1805–1900(1945)
In FHLC as "Estate papers"
FHL Film 894445 Item 3(first of 278 films) First film is an index.
Kings 19th Century
FHL has petitions interfiled by type of estate
Kings County Probate records
Madison 1806–1876
In FHLC as "Estate records"
FHL Film 425297(first of 77 films) Records are in case number order.
New York 19th Century
FHL has petitions interfiled by type of estate
New York County Probate records
Niagara 1822–1932
In FHLC as "Probate Records"
FHL Film 900543(first of 1068 films) First film is an index.
Oneida yes (1867–1965)
In FHLC as "Probate Proceedings"
FHL Film 398052(first of 92 films)
Otsego 1829–1934
In FHLC as "Petitions for probate"
FHL Film 947947(first of 13 films)
Queens 1830–1865
In FHLC as "Probate proceedings"
FHL Film 930757(first of 33 films) Index to Probate proceedings FHL Film 933001(first of 3 films)
Rensselaer yes (1793–1906)
In FHLC as "Probate Records"
FHL Film 1531541 Items 2-3 (first of 235 films) Indexes to these records are found on: FHL Film 550660 (first of 4 films)
Rockland 1802–1900
In FHLC as "Probate Records"
FHL Film 819733(first of 96 films)
Seneca 1830–1911
In FHLC as "Stanley I. Reynolds Collection" [typescript]
FHL Film 812847
Tompkins 1818–1900
In FHLC as "Petitions, proof of wills, letters of administration, and estate papers"
FHL Film 869195 (first of 59 films)
Ulster (1707) 1787–1921
In FHLC as "Probate records, 1707–1921 approx."
FHL Film 941437 Item 1 (first of 173 films) First film is an index to filing boxes.
Warren yes (1813–1955)
In FHLC as "Estate records, No. 1–13, 353; book of wills"
FHL Film 441867(first of 203 films) First film is an index to Estate records.
Westchester 1775–1900
In FHLC as "Estate tax files, 1775–1900"
FHL Film 597819 (first of 690 films)
Wyoming 1841–1900
In FHLC as "Petition and proofs of wills, 1841–1900" and "Petitions, bonds of administrators, 1841–1900"
FHL Film 815844(first of 42 films)

References

  1. This collection is now at the New York Public Library.
  2. Be Aware that records from these different jurisdictions are inconsistently listed in the Family History Library Catalog. Some sources from different boroughs are listed under New York City because those boroughs are technically part of New York City today. Some cross referencing exists, but it is always wise to check the FHLC for both the borough name and for the name of the individual counties. (New York, Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, and Richmond) that make up greater New York City.
  3. For a brief period (1908-1935) New York State counties, including those in Greater New York City, were also responsible for the recording of marriage records. During this time marriages continued to be recorded by the New York City Department of Health.
  4. Created as a Borough of Richmond, renamed Borough of Staten Island in 1975.
  5. This collection is now at the New York Public Library.
  6. This collection is now at the New York Public Library.
  7. Henry B. Hoff, "Navigating New York Probate," American Ancestors 12 (Fall 2011): 56.
  • This page was last modified on 30 December 2011, at 18:01.
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