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Reference Correspondence Policy for the Milstein

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.

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 fee-based information service, Ask NYPL Express.

Direct requests for document delivery, including copies of articles, as well as requests for  photographic reproduction or microfilm copies to Ask NYPL Express

Current and retrospective book and periodical titles in the Milstein Division can be found by searching the Library's online public 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. Ask NYPL Express provides this service for a fee.
  • search telephone directories on microfilm. Ask NYPL Express provides this service for a fee.

Note:  please direct questions regarding World Wars I and II regimental histories to the General Research

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.

Before contacting us with reference inquiries, correspondents may want to consult the free websites for Genealogy, United States History, New York City History, which have been selected by Library staff and are linked to our web page.  The NYPL Digital Gallery provides access to thousands of images including historic photographs of New York City from our collection.