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About the Milstein Division of U.S., Local History and Genealogy

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The Milstein Division collects materials documenting American History on the national, state and local level, Genealogy, Heraldry, Personal and Family Names, and Flags.  Its holdings and research services are used each year by thousands of scholars, students, family historians, city planners, television and film producers, novelists and playwrights, visual artists and anyone interested in history.  Learn more about our world-class collections, and follow the activities of the Division through our blog, flickr, twitter, and facebook pages.

In-Person Research

Researchers can access the majority of our collections by consulting the Library's Classic Catalog, or with the guidance of our staff.  A valid library card is required to request most print materials. ( Apply for a card ) Laptops are welcome as our reading room is Wi-Fi enabled and equipped with ample power outlets.  

  • The Reading Room has 16 computers with databases and the catalog for research only, and a large selection of collection related reference materials on open shelves.
  • Printing from databases, and photocopying / scanning (with the Librarian's permission) can be done here: 20c cash per page, or 15c a page with a copy card, available for purchase in the reading room: bring change.
  • Room 119 is the Milstein Division’s own microforms reading room with in-room collections of vital records indexes, city directories, state censuses, property deeds, and more. The Milstein Division Microform Room facilitates self-service access to the many important microform genealogical resources including some that are not yet online such as New York State Census Records, New York City householders directories, and New York City vital record indexes.
  • Both rooms are open Monday, Thursday to Saturday, 10-5:45, and Tuesday and Wednesday, 10-7:45. Closed Sunday.

Plan Your Visit

We encourage you to plan your research visit. Please note that portions of our collection may be offsite and requesting materials in advance from the Classic Catalog will help you make the most of your visit.

  • Contact us with your research questions at history@nypl.org.
  • Please note that portions of our collection are not yet searchable though the catalog or may be located in offsite storage and e-mailing us in advance will help you make the most of your visit. 
  • If you have already identified the resources you would like to consult, you can request materials in advance of your visit.
  • Request for onsite materials cannot be accepted beginning 30 minutes prior to closing.

The Milstein Division bears the responsibility for maintaining the excellence of a body of materials that has traditionally been one of the strengths of The Research Libraries. The Astor Library's holdings of United States history on the national, state and local level were enriched by the acquisition of the George Bancroft Collection, purchased by the Lenox Library. Later significant additions were the Ford, Emmet and Myers Collections. Complementary holdings in the Rare Book and Manuscripts & Archives Division, the Print Collection and other divisions of the Research Libraries enhance the resources of The Irma and Paul Milstein Division of United States History, Local History and Genealogy.

As one of the nation's largest publicly accessible and non-membership genealogical collections, the Milstein Division is a national resource. Cited in most family history handbooks, the Milstein Division is a mecca to researchers from throughout the United States. Unlike many other genealogical and local history collections, the Milstein Division acquires materials beyond the local region. Holdings in United States town, city, county and state histories are national in scope. Genealogical materials are international in scope, including foreign language materials in Roman alphabets. The collections include 1/2 million books, 400,000 photographic images, and the majority of the holdings of the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society

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 United States local views. A local history ephemera collection of pamphlets, leaflets, etc., provides primary study materials for the cultural, social, and religious history of the United States. The Milstein Division also collects political campaign ephemera, including broadsides, pamphlets, and candidate position papers. Vertical files and genealogical charts further enhance the holdings of The Irma and Paul Milstein Division of United States History, Local History and Genealogy.

The Irma and Paul Milstein Division of United States History, Local History and Genealogy is endowed through a generous gift from the Paul & Irma Milstein Foundation.