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Genealogical Research at The New York Public Library


The Milstein Division of United States History, Local History & Genealogy is one of the largest genealogical collections free and open to the public. Following is a selective list of resources, with an emphasis on New York City. Unless noted, all sources are located in the Milstein Division (Room 121). Many of the microform titles are self-service in the Milstein Division Microform Room (Room 119).

[Grandmother and grand-daughter], Digital ID 1629703, New York Public LibraryGrandmother and grand-daughter

Library Catalog

The NYPL Online Catalog includes all of the books, periodicals, and microforms in the Milstein Division, both current and retrospective, including all of the newly acquired materials from the New York Genealogical & Biographical Society Library.


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:

America’s Historical Newspapers

America's Historical Newspapers allows users to search more than 1,000 U.S. historical newspapers published between 1690 and 1922, including titles from all 50 states. Created by Readex through partnerships with the American Antiquarian Society, Library of Congress, Wisconsin Historical Society, and others, America's Historical Newspapers enables researchers to explore virtually every aspect of America during the 18th, 19th, and early 20th centuries.

American Ancestors

Databases of the New England Historic Genealogical Society. Highlights include full-text access to the New England Historical and Genealogical Register from 1847 to 1994 and the Massachusetts Vital Records to 1910.

Ancestry Library Edition

Access billions of names in thousands of genealogical  databases: Census and Vital Records, Passenger lists and naturalizations, Military and 
Holocaust Records, City Directories, and African American and Native American Records. 

FamilySearch Genealogy Service

Operated by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), this free website offers a variety of genealogical databases, access to unindexed images of genealogical records, wiki entries describing various types of genealogical research, and access to the Family History Library's catalog. Includes free access to the 1940 United States Federal Census.


Historical primary documents featuring U.S. city directories, naturalization records, and Revolutionary War Pensions. Collections include: History and Genealogy Archives, African American Archives, Native American Archives, Revolutionary War Archives, US Bureau of Investigation Case File Archives, and World War II Archives.

HeritageQuest Online

Search U.S. Federal Census records, digitized family and local history books, an index to genealogical and local history periodicals (1800-2009), Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty Land Warrant Application Files and the Freedman's Bank Records (1865-1874).

ProQuest Historical Newspapers

Searchable full-text and page images of all ProQuest Historical Newspaper databases, which include major newspaper titles related to New York, Chicago, Atlanta, Baltimore, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., the American Jewish Newspaper Series, and the United Kingdom

New York City Vital Records Indexes

  • Manhattan Alphabetical Death Index Cards, 1868–1890
  • Brooklyn, Kings County, Index to Deaths, 1848–1898
  • Richmond County, Index to Deaths, 1847–1897
  • Index to NYC Deaths, 1888–1948 (all boroughs, 1898–1948)
  • Coroner's inquisitions, New York, NY, 1823–1898
  • Index to NYC Marriages (Grooms), 1888–1937 (all boroughs, 1898–  )
  • Index to Marriages (Brides), 1869–1937 (Manhattan, Bronx, Queens, Richmond) 
  • Birth indexes through 1909

Free online NYC vital records indexes for many years at the Italian Genealogical Group

United States Census, 1790–1940Occupations - Census takers., Digital ID 732277F, New York Public LibraryCensus takers. (1930)

Ancestry Library Edition has digital images and every-name indexes to all years of the Federal census. Other databases for the Federal census: HeritageQuest Online, Fold3, and Family Search.

See Everyone Counts: Using the Census in Genealogy Research for more details.

Microfilms in the Milstein Division Microform Room (Room 119)

  • New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, 1790–1880
  • New York, New Jersey, Mortality Schedules, 1850–1880 (Online via Ancestry Library Edition)
  • New York 1900
  • New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Puerto Rico, 1910
  • New York, Puerto Rico, 1920, 1930
  • Soundex Index: 1880 (NY, NJ, CT.); 1900 (NY); 1920 (NY, PR)

New York State Census

We have all available New York State Census Records on microfilm for all counties. These microfilms are in the Milstein Microform Room (Room 119).

Below is a list for New York City ONLY:

  • 1855: Majority of counties, but among those lacking: Queens, Suffolk, Westchester
  • 1865–1875: Kings and Richmond Counties
  • 1892: Kings County (Online at
  • 1905: New York (Bronx), Kings, Westchester
  • 1915/1925: New York, Bronx, Kings, Queens, Richmond, Nassau, Suffolk, Westchester

Ancestry Library Edition had digitized much of what survives of the New York State Census, and their collections correspond to what is available  on microfilm in the Milstein Division, listed above. New York State censuses are free to New York state residents, via the New York State Archives Genealogy Resources page.

1890 New YorkCity "Police" Census

Includes Manhattan and the Bronx, available in Milstein Microfilm, Room 119. Searchable by address.
Note:  Ancestry Library Edition has indexed a small number (26) of the 894 extant books of the “Police” Census.

New Jersey State Census

N.J. State Census, 1855, 1865–75, 1885, 1895, 1905, 1915 available in Milstein Microfilm, Room 119.
Note:  Ancestry Library Edition has indexed and digitized the 1895 New Jersey State Census.

Passenger Lists

Islands - Ellis Island - [Visit by President Wilson.], Digital ID 732032F, New York Public LibraryEllis Island [Visit by President Wilson.] (1913)Online databases

Ancestry Library Edition’s Immigration Collection: indexed & digitized lists including:

  • New York Passenger Lists, 1820–1957
  • Boston Passenger Lists, 1891–1943
  • Philadelphia Passenger Lists, 1883–1945
  • Atlantic Ports Passenger Lists, 1820–1873, 1893–1959
  • Baltimore Passenger Lists, 1820–1948
  • California Passenger & Crew Lists, 1893–1957
  • Hamburg Passenger Lists, 1850–1934
  • New Orleans Passenger Lists, 1820–1945
  • Border Crossings:  Canada to U.S., 1895–1956
  • U.S. Passport Applications, 1795–1925

Free website:  New York Castle Garden, 1850–1891 AND Ellis Island, 1892–1924

You can also search for names in ships passenger lists at the Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island website

Printed indexes in the Milstein Reading Room (Room 121)

  • Filby, P. William. Passenger and Immigration Lists Index.  
  • The Famine Immigrants: Lists of Irish Immigrants Arriving at the Port of New York, 1846–1851.  
  • Germans to America: Lists of Passengers Arriving at U.S. Ports, 1840–1897.
  • Italians to America: Lists of Passengers Arriving at U.S. Ports, 1880–1899.  
  • Migration from the Russian Empire: Lists of Passengers Arriving at the Port of NY, 1875–1891.  

Microfilms in the Milstein Microform Room (Room 119)

  • Registers of Vessels Arriving at the Port of New York from Foreign Ports, 1789–1919
  • Registers and Indexes for Passport Applications, 1810–1906
  • Passenger lists & index of the Holland-America Line, 1900–1940
  • Index to Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at New York, NY 1820–1846 (also on Ancestry)
  • Index to Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at New York, NY 1897–June 30, 1902
  • Index (Soundex) to Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at New York, NY July 1902–1943

Naturalization RecordsOrchard Street Scene, Digital ID 1583604, New York Public LibraryOrchard Street Scene

Online databases


  • Digitized petitions, US District Court, Eastern District of New York, 1865–1937 [in progress]
  • Digitized petitions, US District Court, Southern District of New York, 1897–1944 [in progress]
  • Index to Declarations of Intention, US District Court, Southern District of New York, 1917–1950
  • Index to Petitions, US District Court [and Circuit Court], Southern District of New York, 1824–1941

Ancestry Library Edition

  • Index to some petitions, 1792–1989, filed in various federal, state, and local courts in New York City
  • Index to petitions compiled by the New York County Supreme Court (Manhattan) 1907–1924
  • U.S., Naturalization Records, Original Documents, 1795-1972 
  • Selected U.S. Naturalization Records,  Original Documents, 1790-1974

Free websites

Naturalization indexes for Greater New York: the Italian Genealogical Group.
Naturalization index, Kings County Clerk's, 1907–1924: the Jewish Genealogical Society.

Microfilms in the Milstein Microform Room (Room 119)

  • Naturalization Certificates, 1794–1906 & Index to Naturalizations, 1906–1941 (Queens)
  • Record of Declarations of Intention, 1906–1926 (Queens)
  • Declarations Index 1914–1952 & Petitions Index, 1914–1932 (Bronx)

US Military Sources

Midnight on the battlefield., Digital ID PS_LHG_CD20_61, New York Public LibraryMidnight on the battlefield. (1890)

Online databases

Ancestry Library Edition’s Military Records collection includes:

  • Civil War Collection including indexes to Service and Pension Records
  • WW I Draft Registration Cards, 1917–1918
  • WW II Army Enlistment Records, 1938–1946
  • WW II “Old Men’s” draft, 1942


  • Revolutionary War Pension Files and Service Records
  • The Civil War Confederate Soldier Service Records AND Southern Claims Commission
  • Civil War Union Colored Troop Records. (see also Ancestry Library Edition)

D.A.R. and Loyalist Sources

NYPL is a depository for New York State D.A.R. Genealogical Records Committee publications of New York Bible, Cemetery, and Vital records.  We also hold extensive collections of American Loyalist Claims.

Irish Sources

Online databases

Ancestry Library Edition's Irish genealogy collections include

  • Tithe Applotment Books, 1823-1837
  • Griffith’s Valuation, 1848–1864
  • New York Emigrant Savings Bank, 1850-1883

African American Sources

Online databases

  • African-American Newspapers: the 19th Century
  • ProQuest Historical African-American Newspapers: Atlanta Daily World (1931–2003), Chicago Defender (1905–1975), Los Angeles Sentinel (1934–2005), New York Amsterdam News (1922–1993), and Pittsburgh Courier (1911–2002)
  • Freedman’s Bank Records: Searchable in HeritageQuest Online
  • Danish West Indies, Slavery, and Emancipation Records, 1672–1917 (Searchable in Fold3)
  • U.S. Virgin Islands Census, 1835–1911 (Danish Period); Slave Registers of former British Colonial Dependencies,   1812–1834; U.S. Virgin Islands, St. Croix Slave Plantation and Head Tax Lists, 17721821 (only browsable; not indexes by name). Searchable online in Ancestry Library Edition.

Regional Records

  • Barbour Collection of Connecticut Vital Records to 1850. Searchable in Ancestry Library Edition
  • Hale Collection, 1750–1865 (CT marriage & death notices & tombstone inscriptions on microfilm)
  • Massachusetts Vital Records Microfiche Series. Searchable online in American Ancestors

City & Telephone DirectoriesThe Original Cheap Clothing Warehouse; Grafft & Bett's Dining Saloon [Ads]., Digital ID 1822717, New York Public Library

All New York (City and State) city directories through 1930s self-service in Milstein Microfilm, Room 119.  
Extensive microform collection of city directories of other U.S. cities, request in Room 121.  
Back files of telephone directories available in the Microforms Division (Room 100).

Fold3 has digitized major US City Directories.

Ancestry Library Edition includes a number of City Directories.

See A History of City Directories in the United States and New York City for more details.


Searchable full-text and digital images of newspapers at the Library, including:

  • New York Times, 1851–2005        
  • New York Tribune, 1841–1922
  • New York Herald, 1840–1865        
  • The Hartford Courant, 1764–1984
  • Boston Globe, 1872–1927        
  • Chicago Tribune, 1849–1986
  • Los Angeles Times, 1881–1986        
  • San Francisco Chronicle, 1865–1922
  • Washington Post, 1877–1992        
  • America’s Historical Newspapers, 1690–1922
  • Times of London, 1785–1985        
  • UK Guardian & Observer, 1791–2003
  • Brooklyn Eagle Online, 1841–1955 
  • New York Sun, 1879–1910 and New York Evening World, 1890–1909 available at free website called Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers

See Conducting Genealogical Research Using Newspapers for more details.


New York Evening Post: Deaths/Marriages 1801–1890 in Ancestry, and American Ancestors
Maher, James P.  Index to marriages and deaths in the New York Herald, 1835–1870
New York Herald Index, 1835–1918 (available in Microforms Division, Room 100)

Family Histories and Periodicals

The Library's large collection of family histories and subscription to hundreds of genealogical journals as well as some family newsletters are searchable in the NYPL Catalog [].

  • HeritageQuest Online gives full-text access to 25,000 books of genealogies & local histories, and includes PERSI, an index to genealogical and local history periodicals.
  • New York County Histories Online includes full-text histories of all counties in New York State.
  • Google Books includes many pre-1923 full-test genealogies and local histories from NYPL and other libraries
  • The Internet Archive is also a rich source of pre-1923 titles.

Photographic Collections

Photographic Views of New York City, 1870s–1970s and other selected photographs, from a collection of  available online for free at NYPL Digital Collections

West 43rd Street - Broadway,Toffenetti Restaurant, Digital ID 1558231, New York Public LibraryThis is a very selective list of materials available to family historians in The New York Public Library. Additional sources will be encountered by visitors to the Irma and Paul Milstein Division of United States History, Local History and Genealogy. Other divisions of the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, which contain resources useful to those engaged in genealogical research are the Manuscripts and Archives Division, the Dorot Jewish Division, the Map Division, and the Microforms Division.