"Fortitude" Lion and entrance, Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, New York Public Library.
New York Public Library Rose Main Reading Room. Photo by David Iliff.
- U.S. History, Local History & Genealogy
- Irma and Paul Milstein Division
- First Floor, Room 121
- Schwarzman Main Branch
- Fifth Avenue at 42nd Street,
- New York, NY 10018-2788
Telephone: (212) 930-0828
Hours and holidays:
- Monday-Saturday open 10:00 a.m.
- Mon., Thu., Fri., Sat. close 6:00 p.m.
- Tues., Wedn. close 7:30 p.m.
- Upcomming closings: click here.
Directions, maps, and public transportation:
- Red 1 2 or 3 to 42nd Street and Broadway. Walk two blocks east to Fifth Avenue.
- Blue A or C to 42nd Street and Eighth Avenue. Walk four blocks east to Fifth Avenue.
- Orange D B F or V to 42nd Street and Sixth Avenue. Walk one block east to Fifth Avenue.
- Green 4 5 or 6 to Grand Central Station. Walk two blocks west to Fifth Avenue.
- Purple 7 to Fifth Avenue.
- Buses: MTA buses M1 M2 M3 M4 M6 M7 M42 M104 or Q32 to Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street.
Internet sites and databases:
The New York Public Library's collection is one of the largest in the world with over 14 million titles. The Irma and Paul Milstein Division of U.S. History, Local History and Genealogy has an outstanding collection of American history at national, state and local levels; international genealogy and heraldry in Roman alphabets; the Dorot Jewish collection; photos; New York censuses, directories, and vital records. The Milstein Division acquires materials beyond the local region. The United States town, city, county and state history collection is national in scope. Books requested in the Bill Blass Public Catalog Room are delivered to the Rose Reading Room. The open shelf dictionaries, encyclopedias, biographies, and indexes alone include 25,000 volumes.
The library has computers with Internet access including the most popular genealogical databases, and free Wi-Fi for personal computers of visitors. The Milstein Microfilm Room gives access to New York State censuses, New York City directories, and indexes to New York City vital records (births late 19th century-1982; deaths late 19th century-1982; and marriages 1869-1937), coroner's inquisitions 1823-1898, divorce index 1784-1910, 1890 New York City “Police” Census, New York City historical newspapers, NYC land and property records 1654-1857, 18th and 19th century wills for many counties.
In addition, the Manuscripts and Archives Division, 3rd floor, has about 30,000 feet (9,144 meters) of archival papers of individuals, families, and organizations mostly from the New York area. The Rare Book Division, 3rd Floor, has 130,000 titles from Europe, England, and the Americas. The Art, Prints and Photographs Division, 3rd floor, has 200,000 prints.
The New York Public Library now houses the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society's collection. All of their collection has been cataloged and is located in the New York Public Library's online catalog.
- Access to Special Collections: Rare Books Division, Manuscripts and Archives Division, Arents Collection, Berg Collection, Pforzheimer Collection, Print Collection, Photography Collection, and Spencer Collection requires a library card, photo identification, and an application. You can submit applications in each collection's reading room or via their webpage in some cases.
- The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in not at the Main Branch.
- Sam P. Williams, Guide to the Research Collections of the New York Public Library (Chicago: American Library Association, 1975). (FHL Collection Book 974.71 A3w). WorldCat entry.
- New York Public Library. Local History and Genealogy Division, United States Local History Catalog: a Modified Shelf List Arranged Alphabetically by State, and Alphabetically by Locality within Each State, 18 volumes and four suppelments. (Boston, Mass.: G.K. Hall, 1974). (FHL Collection Large Q Book 974.71 A3nd). WorldCat entry.
If you cannot visit or find a source at the New York Public Library, a similar source may be available at one of the following.
- New York Public Library Branches over 90 in New York City.
- New England Historic Genealogical Society, Boston, national in scope. Over 100 million name database, of vital records, genealogies, journals, over 200,000 books, 100,000 microfilms, and over 20 million manuscripts with emphasis on New England and New York since the 1600s.
- National Archives Northeast Region (New York City), censuses, Ancestry.com, military, pensions, bounty land, photos, passenger indexes, New York port and shipping, naturalizations, inventions.
- National Archives Northeast Region (Boston) (that is Waltham), censuses, Ancestry.com, military, pensions, bounty land, photos, passenger indexes, naturalizations, African Americans, Indians.
- Stadsarchief Amsterdam (Amsterdam Municipal Archives) early Dutch notarial records of New York.
- Family History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah, holds 450 computers, 3,400 databases, 3.1 million microforms, 4,500 periodicals, 310,000 books of worldwide family and local histories, civil, church, immigration, ethnic, military, and Mormon records.
- Allen County Public Library, Fort Wayne, Indiana, premier periodical collection, genealogies, local histories, databases, military, censuses, directories, passenger lists, ethnic collections, and Canadians.
- Library of Congress, Washington, DC, Local History and Genealogy Reading Room is part of the world's largest library including 50,000 genealogies, 100,000 local histories, manuscripts, microfilms, maps, newspapers, photographs, books, strong in North American, British Isles, and German sources
- Newberry Library, Chicago, genealogies, local histories, censuses, military, land, indexes, vital records, court, and tax records mostly from the Mississippi Valley, eastern seaboard, Canada, & British Isles.
- Mid-Continent Public Library Midwest Genealogy Center, Independence, MO, national censuses/indexes, 80,000 family histories, 100,000 local histories, 565,000 microfilms, 7,000 maps, and newspapers.
- National Archives I, Washington DC, census, pre-WWI military service & pensions, passenger lists, naturalizations, passports, federal bounty land, homesteads, bankruptcy, ethnic sources, prisons.
- Yad Vashem, Jerusalem, 85,000 volumes about the Jewish Holocaust, largest yizkor book collection.
- New York State Library, Albany, has local histories, genealogies, atlases, church, cemetery (including DAR), city directories, microfilmed newspapers, censuses, passenger lists, and periodicals.
- New York State Archives, Albany, has manuscripts, vital record indexes, land grants, maps, military, court, alien depositions, prisoners, Erie Canal passenger lists, wills, estates, and state censuses.
- New York Genealogical and Biographical Society, New York City has censuses, city directories, church, cemetery, Bible, land, probates, genealogy, local history, and manuscripts.
- New York Historical Society manuscripts, newspapers, periodicals, histories, directories, maps, photos.
- Vital Records Section of the New York State Dept. of Health, Menands, NY, for outside New York City births and deaths (1881-present), and marriage licenses (1880-present). Also, all divorces since 1963.
- Municipal Archives has New York City birth, death, and marriage records; the 1890 police census; city directories; voter registrations; almshouse records; and municipal government records.
- Courts: city, state, and federal.
- Columbia University Libraries, history, biography, ethnic studies, newspapers, government documents.
- Holland Society 7,000 New Netherland family and local history books, Dutch Reformed Church records.
- Huguenot Historical Society open by appointment: history, settlement, genealogy, biography, theology.
- YIVO Institute for Jewish Research East European Jewish immigrant studies, gazetteers, yizkor books (Holocaust town memorial books), biographical directories, Landsmanshaft records.
- Leo Baeck Insitiute preserves family and community histories about Jews in German speaking countries.