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Conducting Research: Milstein Division


Genealogical Research in the Milstein Division and New York Public Library

A selection of the resources available to family historians in the Milstein Division, Room 121 of the NYPL Stephen A. Scwarzman Building and at The New York Public Library.

Classes and Programs

The Milstein Division regularly hosts a number of classes and programs given by librarians and guest speakers, on the subjects of history and genealogy. For information about upcoming classes and programs, please consult the Milstein Division’s homepage, Twitter, and Facebook pages, or check the free classes, programs, and exhibitions listed in the latest edition of NYPL Now!

Research Guides

Librarians in the Milstein Division have authored a number of research guides, complete with lists of resources, tips, examples, and recommendations to help you make the most of New York Public Library’s history and genealogy collections..

Lexington Avenue - East 43rd Street,Chrysler Building spire, Digital ID 1557955, New York Public Library

Genealogy Databases

All public reading rooms in the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building offer access to computers featuring the Library's Articles and Databases electronic resources menu. Library licensed subscription databases and notable free internet sites are listed under the subject Genealogy. Among the databases we subscribe to for free and unlimited on-site use by the public are:

Further databases and notable free Internet sites pertinent the subjects, with free and unlimited access in the Milstein Division, are also listed under the topics United States History and New York City History.

Visual Collections and Ephemera

The Milstein Division maintains a rich and varied collection of visual materials and ephemera. Nearly every important topic in United States and New York City history is represented in this collection, which includes photographs, postcards, scrapbooks, pamphlets and clippings. Many of these materials have been digitized and are accessible anywhere via NYPL Digital Collections

Vital Records

Vital records—birth, marriage, and death records—are invaluable sources of information to genealogists and family historians. The Milstein Division provides access to numerous print and digitized indexes of these records as well as information about the location of these records.

Reference Correspondence Policy

The Irma and Paul Milstein Division of United States History, Local History and Genealogy responds to requests about Library holdings and for information on the following subjects: United States History on the national, state, and local level, Genealogy, Heraldry, Personal and Family Names, and Flags.

Send your email reference question here.

Please note that the Milstein Division staff cannot engage in extensive research for correspondents. Requests which require more in-depth research may be directed to the Library's Research Services (fee-based information service.)

Direct requests for document delivery, including copies of articles as well as photographic reproduction or microfilm copies to Research Services.

Current and retrospective book and periodical titles in the Milstein Division can be found by searching the Library's online public Classic Catalog. Although the Milstein Division's materials do not circulate from the building, many of its U.S. history titles may be found in The New York Public Library's neighborhood libraries.

Among the services we can provide:

  • check Research Libraries holdings for specific titles
  • request volumes for your use from the Library's offsite storage facility in advance of your visit
  • look up names and places in published indexes
  • check NYC census district maps for one address/year
  • look for an individual in up to three years of city directories
  • please direct questions regarding World Wars I and II regimental histories to the General Research

Among the genealogical reference services we cannot provide:

  • search New York City Department of Health vital records indexes (some NYC vital records indexes are available at
  • search National Archives microfilm indexes
  • search old newspapers on microfilm for obituaries and death notices. Research Services provides this for a fee.
  • search telephone directories on microfilm. Research Services provides this for a fee.

Correspondence is generally answered in order of receipt. We will make every effort to respond to your question within 2 working days, but some requests may take longer. Due to the heavy volume of requests, correspondents are asked to consider the needs of their fellow researchers and refrain from submitting multiple requests.

Surrogate's Court, Hall of Records,31 Chambers Street - Centre Street, Digital ID 1557882, New York Public Library

Other Resources

The Milstein Division has compiled extensive lists of free websites pertaining to genealogy, United States history, and New York City history. These lists are periodocally updated. 

Selected Genealogy Resources

Selected Internet Resources Genealogy  is a list of free websites useful when conducting genealogical research. It includes links to genealogical, and historical societies, archives and libraries; search engines, catalogs, and databases; guides to all aspects of genealogical research; blogs and newsletters; data portals, and records, digitized and transcribed. For more information about this list, please contact the Milstein Division at

Selected United States History Resources

Over one hundred links to free resources pertaining to the colonial period, the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the Civil War, political history, African American history, and United States history in general. Resources include links to digital collections, digitized historical texts, maps, and timelines.

Selected New York City History Resources

More than 80 free resources pertaining to the history of New York City, including links to digital exhibitions and libraries, websites, and information about the city and each of the five boroughs.