NY Family History Research Guide-Revised

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The New York Family History Research Guide and Gazetteer is an essential New York resource and serves as the textbook for researching New York genealogy.

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Revised Edition 2017

We're proud to introduce the Revised Edition, including an updated vital records chapter that keeps researchers informed on the many online indexes. Revised tables accompany the new chapter organization for this critical and often confusing subject. More than one hundred other revisions keep researchers up-to-date in the 16 chapters and 64 guides to counties and special regions. 

The revised edition comprises two volumes. Part One contains chapters on the many record types and major ethnic and religious groups of New York genealogy. Part Two encompasses guides for the 62 New York counties, plus a special guide for New York City and for Long Island. A place-name index for more than 11,000 communities assists researchers in finding a locale. 

Winner of the 2016 National Genealogical Society Award for Excellent: Genealogical Methods and Sources

More than 100 experts have reviewed and contributed content about local and regional resources and key topics in New York family history. The result is a text with:

  • Chapters on major record groups and research resources, including a comprehensive review of New York State’s extremely complicated vital records system
  • Information on research resources for sixteen major ethnic and twelve major religious groups that have lived in New York
  • Gazetteers, maps, and research guides to each of New York’s 62 counties, including the five boroughs of New York City
  • More than 100 separate, categorized, special topic bibliographies vetted by genealogists
  • Timelines of key events in New York history 1609–1945 that impact genealogical research
  • An index of over 11,000 place names and place-name variants past and present, the first published gazetteer of its kind since 1872

Table of Contents: Part One

Chapter 1: Colonial Era

Historical Overview | Governmental Records | Non-Governmental Records | Religious Records | Personal Papers and Accounts | The Calendar—Julian and Gregorian

Chapter 2: Vital Records

History of Vital Record Keeping, Colonial Era–Present | New York State Department of Health (NYSDH) | Municipal Archives of New York City (MUNI) | Divorce and Adoption Records | Vital Records Substitutes

Chapter 3: Census Records

Federal Census for New York State | Federal Census Special Schedules | New York State Census (1825–1925) | American Indians and the New York State Census | Early Census Records and Lists | Alternative Census Resources and Census Substitutes

Chapter 4: Immigration, Migration, and Naturalization

New Netherland, English, and Revolutionary Periods (1609–1783) | Early Statehood Period (1783–1825) | National Period (1825–1866) | Civil War and Peak Immigration Period (1866–1924) | Current Era (1924–present) | Immigration Records | Naturalization Records

Chapter 5: Court Records

Colonial Era Courts | New York State Courts and Court Structure | Federal Courts in New York State | Major Repositories of Court Records in New York State

Chapter 6: Probate Records

Records before 1787 | Records after 1787 | Guardianship Records

Chapter 7: Land Records and Maps

Historical Overview | Colonial Era | Revolutionary War and the New and Old Military Tracts | Expansion into Western New York | County Records | Deeds and Mortgages | Manors and Early Patents | Leases | Land Company Records | Loyalist Land Confiscations | Reservoir-Related, Surrogate’s Court, Title, Transportation-Related, and Other Records | Major Sources for New York Maps

Chapter 8: Military Records

Record Types and Definitions | Bounty Land Records | Military Unit Histories | Pension Records | Historical Overview and War-Related Resources: Colonial Era to Vietnam | Sources of Military Records

Chapter 9: Cemetery Records

Locating New York Cemeteries | Gravestones and Transcriptions | Burial Records | Cremation | Potter’s Fields | Institutional and Military Cemeteries

Chapter 10: Business, Institutional, and Organizational Records

Almshouses and Poorhouses | Orphanage Records | School Records | Business and Employee Records | Fraternal and Benevolent Organizations | Corrections and Prison Records | Medical Records

Chapter 11: City Directories and Other Directories

City Directories | Social, Business, Professional, Ethnic, Fraternal, and Other Directories

Chapter 12: Newspapers and Periodicals

Historical Overview | Identifying Newspaper Titles | Online Newspaper Resources | Print and Microfilm Resources | Periodicals for Genealogical Research | Selected List of Periodicals

Chapter 13: Tax Records

Colonial Era Taxes | Revolutionary Period | 1798 Federal Direct Tax | Property Taxes | Estate Taxes | Federal Taxes

Chapter 14: Peoples of New York

Chapter Introduction: Notes about Indexes, Population Figures, and an Unlikely Resource | Selected Bibliography

Individual sections provide a historical overview and a description of records, repositories, and resources pertinent to the following populations:
African American | American Indian | Austro-Hungarian  | Chinese | Dutch  | English  | French and French-Speaking | German | Hispanic | Irish | Italian | Jewish | Polish | Russian | Scandinavian | Scots and Ulster Scots |

Chapter 15: Religious Records of New York

Chapter Introduction: Historical Overview | Transcribed, Published, and Digitized Church Records | Locating Religious Records | Selected Bibliography

Individual sections provide a historical overview and a description of records, repositories, and resources pertinent to the following denominations:

Baptist | Catholic | Congregational (also Independent) | Eastern Rite Catholic, Eastern Orthodox | Episcopal | Jewish | Lutheran | Methodist | Mormon (Latter-day Saints) | Presbyterian | Quaker (Society of Friends) | Reformed (Dutch, Huguenot, German, and Christian)

Chapter 16: National and Statewide Repositories & Resources

Government Repositories and Libraries | Repositories, Libraries, Museums, and Genealogical Societies | University and College Libraries | Online Providers of Information | Lineage Societies

Chapter 17: Reference Shelf for New York Research

Research Guides for New York State and City | Essential References for Family History Research

Part Two

Introduction to Part Two

History of County Formation | Definition of Terms—City, Town, Village, etc. | Navigating the County Guides | Selected
Bibliography of Statewide Gazetteers

Individual County Guides

This section includes a county guide for each of New York State's 62 counties. Each guide contains:

Cover Page with Maps | Gazetteer of Past and Present Place Names | Repositories and Resources | Selected Bibliography and Further Reading | Additional Online Resources

New York City 

Maps | Timeline | Notes on the City of New York | Government Repositories | Museums, Societies, Libraries | Ethnic Genealogical Societies | University and College Libraries | Selected Print and Online Resources

This section includes a borough guide for each of the city's boroughs, and one guide for city-wide records. Each guide contains:

Maps | Timeline | Gazetteer of Historic Place Names | List of Contemporary Neighborhood Names | Repositories and Resources | Selected Bibliography | Additional Online Resources

Long Island Resources

Map | Introduction | Repositories and Resources Pertinent to Kings, Queens, Nassau, and Suffolk Counties

Index of Place Names in the Gazetteers

Praise from the experts

“Three years of intensive work culminate in this volume, which serves as a comprehensive guide to the resources available to research the histories of families with New York roots. The Guide is a unique resource which not only supports those interested in New York State, but also provides a model for other states—a true gift to those interested in family history.” 
David S. Ferriero • Archivist of the United States

“For centuries, New York has been the New World’s gateway, the first address of families searching for better lives for themselves and their descendants. Now, thanks to the astonishing efforts of the NYG&B, those descendants have a single port of entry for researching the past. This volume is certain to become the standard for the nation and an indispensable resource for anyone hoping to retrace ancestral journeys in—and beyond—the Empire State.” 
Henry Louis Gates, Jr. • Alphonse Fletcher University Professor, Harvard University

“The unrivaled achievement of this volume is its authoritative and accessible coverage of the vast, complex, and challenging domain of genealogical research. The NYG&B – long recognized as a champion of family history -- has provided an indispensable, must-have resource for libraries, historical societies, and their many users.” 
Ann Thornton • Andrew W. Mellon Director, The New York Public Library

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