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Births + Marriages + Deaths = Family History


[A marriage certificate with illustrations of flowers.], Digital ID 484285, New York Public LibraryThe equation above, however overly simplified, represents the foundation of a family history. In this blog post I want to introduce a few guidebooks and indexes in section 15 of our open shelves. Section 15 focuses specifically on vital records of New York City, mainly records produced by places of worship or notices from newspapers. Below are three items from this section:

To start, let’s revisit the Works Progress Administration’s Guide to Church Vital Statistics in the City of New York, which I mentioned in a blog post a couple of weeks ago. This guide outlines the places of worship, churches and synagogues, in the five boroughs and lists the types of records (baptisms, marriages and funerals) held in each. Though the guide was created in 1940, it can still be helpful for locating vital records especially where public records are not available.

For those of you interested in early New York City vital records, it helps if your ancestors were Methodist. In addition to the Methodist Episcopal Church records available in the Manuscripts Division, we also have New York City Methodist marriages: 1785-1893, which is composed of a bride index and a groom index. The indexes refer to other collections within the Family History Library which you can order for use in a Family History Center.

We also have the Index to Marriages and Deaths in the New York Herald from 1835-1876. This is a great resource to use if your ancestors’ marriages of deaths did not make the New York Times which started in 1851. Since the New York Herald is not digitized for this entire period, this index makes marriage and death announcements much more accessible. The index provides you with the date of the event and refers you to the date and issue of the newspaper.

If you’re working on family histories of ancestors from New York City these are just three of the many reasons for you to visit us.


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Does anyone know a George

Does anyone know a George Harris who was born in 1913 possibly in Brooklyn. My father just passed away and I just saw on his military papers a George Harris was his biological father. Dads Mom was Ruth Carol Smith and she was my grandmother. She ended up married to a bastard Howard E pine who severely abused my father. I believe Dad lived as a young boy at 1140 Rogers Ave. Please anyone with info please e-mail me. At I want nothing from you. But I also have 2 daughters and a granddaughter who is suffering from a heart disease and we cant figure out why? I also have a disease and no one in the family has it but me. I am my fathers first born child. I live in South Caroilna. I had Dad buried in Arlington. Thank-you Deb

Hope the email I sent was

Hope the email I sent was helpful! Sachiko Clayton

Is there any way to request

Is there any way to request a lookup for Frank (Francis) P. Backster in "Index to Marriages and Deaths in the NY Herald 1835-1876 Vol. IV"? He died on March 24, 1871. I believe his death notice was in the Herald on March 25, 1871. Thank you, Allie

You are correct. I did find

You are correct. I did find him in Vol. IV and his death notice was published on March 25, 1871 in the New York Herald. This is all the index has to offer; if the death notice itself had more information you would need to refer back the newspaper in microfilm. Sachiko Clayton

Can I get a microfilm lookup

Can I get a microfilm lookup or do I need to go in person? I'm coming to NY in October, where should I look? Thanks. Allie

Here at the Milstein

Here at the Milstein Division, we don't provide microfilm look-ups, but you are more than welcome to use our collection on your next visit to New York. You will find the microfilms for the New York Herald in the Microforms Reading Room, room 100 of the Schwarzman Building: If you are unable to visit us I would suggest two other options: You may want to try to request this issue of the newspaper on microfilm at your local public library through interlibrary loan. Another option would be to request a microfilm look-up through our fee-based research service ASK Express: Hope this helps!

Methodist Church Records

Are any portion of the Methodist Church records indexed? I'm thinking primarily of the baptisms, marriages and death records. Thanks!

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