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New York Genealogical and Biographical Society Contributes Its 75,000-Volume Collection to The New York Public Library


Step to Create One of the World's Largest, Most Accessible Genealogical Libraries: A Singular Resource for Researchers of New York Family History

NEW YORK, NY, July 21, 2008 –The New York Public Library (NYPL) and the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society (the G&B) announced jointly today that the New York Public Library will become the new home of the G&B Society’s library of 75,000 published works, 30,000 manuscripts, 22,000 microforms, 1,300 periodicals and digital computer media. Among the materials are 16th and 17th century land records; transcriptions of New York baptismal and marriage records; personal diaries and letters; and census data from as early as the 18th century. Joining the Library’s rich and heavily used genealogical and manuscript collections, the merged materials of the NYPL and the G&B will create an unparalleled, publicly accessible resource for those conducting genealogical research. The NYPL and the G&B will co-sponsor educational programs, create links to each other’s websites, and collaborate in various ways to make this invaluable resource available to the public.

“Combining the two collections will result in an extraordinary resource for people nationwide seeking to learn about family members who were born in New York, lived in New York, or passed through New York on the way to becoming citizens," said David Ferriero, the Andrew W. Mellon Director of the New York Public Libraries. "The G&B collection’s great strength lies in its holdings for the 17th to 18th centuries with emphasis on the Dutch and English. The NYPL genealogical collections are strongest for the 19th to 20th centuries and embrace many different ethnic groups.”

“New York is the historic center of U.S. immigration. Together, two venerable New York institutions will create one of the world’s largest and most accessible genealogical libraries. As a result of this contribution, the wealth of genealogical resources in the G&B’s unique collection, integrated with the NYPL’s incomparable holdings, will within two years be fully accessible to anyone conducting research in this area,” said G&B Chairman Waddell W. Stillman.

The G & B’s collections will become part of the Library’s Manuscripts and Archives Division and its Irma and Paul Milstein Division of United States History, Local History, and Genealogy. The Manuscripts and Archives Division holds approximately 29,000 linear feet of archival material, with its greatest strengths in the papers of individuals, families, and organizations, primarily in the New York region, from the 18th through 20th centuries. The Milstein Division is one of the nation’s largest publicly accessible collections of genealogical materials and includes hundreds of thousands of books, serials, photographs, microforms, and ephemeral materials in addition to offering free access to a wide range of tools for electronic research.

Last July, the G&B announced the sale of its East 58th Street building and reported that it would be moving its headquarters and library to new locations. Simultaneously, the G&B announced preliminary plans for the restructuring and enhancement of its service offerings and its membership program. Its goal is to transform a 19th century members-only genealogical society founded in 1869 into a 21st century resource for education, research and scholarship serving increasingly Internet-reliant users interested in New York.

“Once we decided to sell our building and move the library to a new location, ‘stewardship’ and ‘accessibility’ became the most important words in our vocabulary,” Mr. Stillman continued. “We sought the strongest possible partner – an organization that would value the G&B collection highly because it significantly complements its own and that would make the G&B library broadly available to researchers worldwide. Equally important, it had to have the professional staff and resources to appropriately house, catalogue, and properly conserve the collection. The NYPL has precisely those resources and a collection that fits extremely well with ours.” The G&B’s library on 58th Street closed June 1st, and its books, manuscripts, and other media are being readied to be moved to the NYPL starting in August.

An Overview of the G&B Collection

The holdings in the G&B Library encompass four centuries of American history, from the colonial period to the present day. While the geographic focus of much of the G&B Library’s content is New York and other northeastern states, the Society also collects material relating to all 50 states and many other countries. Materials are acquired through purchases, donations and bequests.

Since the founding of the G&B in 1869, its archives have become one of the principal genealogical reference libraries for genealogists and historians interested in researching 17th and 18th century family history in New York State. The vast extent of its collection allows researchers to gather material from many sources.

Published Works
The Society’s Library contains over 75,000 volumes of published works. It includes more than 11,000 family genealogies; U.S., state, and local histories; genealogy and historical periodicals; monographs, reference materials and indexes to genealogical, historical, and biographical books and periodicals.

Manuscript Collection
The Society’s Library houses a rare collection of 30,000 unpublished and unique items ranging from an early Colonial land deed dated 1596 to research notes on 20th century families. Among the archives are:

Transcriptions of New York church baptismal and marriage records
Cemetery records
Genealogical charts and family trees
Antique maps
Personal diaries and letters
Vital records from family Bibles
The compiled notes of prominent genealogists and historians
Records from lineage and heraldic societies
Microform Titles
The Library has a wide variety of microfiche titles and over 22,000 rolls of information on microfilm. This is a utility archive and is frequently accessed by researchers. Among its contents are:
New York federal census records 1790-1920 and indexes

New York state census records of 1825-1925
New York City; 1890 police census
Land records including Kings, New York, Queens, and Richmond counties: 17th to 19th century indexes and 17th to 18th century deeds, mortgages and patents.
17th to 19th century Probate records
Church and cemetery records from many New York counties, towns and villages
New York City vital records indexes
Court and civil records of New Amsterdam and early New York City
Categories of the Society’s Library’s holdings rendered into electronic media so far include:

Marriage and death indexes
Church and military records
Vital records
Periodical indexes
Wills, including abstracts for New York, 1665-1801
New York Public Library Strengths in Genealogy and Local History

The NYPL is committed to creating a leading online presence and making its collections accessible electronically as part of a global information network. Through technology it will expand the reach of its physical collections beyond the walls of the Library.
Local history and genealogy and the building of manuscript and archival collections that document New York State history and important New York families have been core to the NYPL mission since the Library was founded in 1895. The Library continues to actively develop these areas of its collection.
The Library's Manuscripts and Archives Division holds several collections of particular interest to genealogical researchers, such as the Emigrant Savings Bank Records, which extensively documents Irish families in New York, and the Methodist Episcopal Church records. The Division also holds the papers of several notable New York City and State families, such as the Schuyler family papers, Gansevoort-Lansing Collection, Constable-Pierrepont papers, Bigelow family papers, and Colles family papers
The Irma and Paul Milstein Division of United States History, Local History and Genealogy’s local history collection is national in scope; its genealogy collections are international in scope, including Western Europe, Canada, and South and Central America. Milstein Division book and serial collections number over 325,000 volumes. The Division holds approximately 112,000 original photographs, including the notable Photographic Views of New York City, 1870s-1970s collection. In addition to original photographs the Division has approximately 400,000 postcard views and ephemera collections of brochures, pamphlets, and broadsides documenting U.S. localities.
The NYPL has a dedicated reading room for local history and genealogy. The Milstein Division of U.S. History, Local History & Genealogy is one of the busiest departments in the Library, serving the information needs of over 56,000 onsite users last year. The NYPL also has a dedicated reading room for manuscript and archival materials, and last year the Manuscripts and Archives Division served 1000 different researchers, who made 3000 visits, and consulted 10,312 items (boxes, volumes, cassettes, videos), from 850 different collections.
NYPL subscribes to a vast array of electronic resources invaluable for genealogy research including: Ancestry Library Edition, HeritageQuest Online,,, Burke’s Peerage, New York State County Histories, America’s Historic Newspapers, American Periodicals Online, the U.S. Serial Set, the historical full-text backfiles of the New York Times, New York Tribune, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Defender, and the Times of London.
The NYPL Digital Gallery offers over 550,000 images from Library collections, many of them related to U.S. local history. The NYPL is one of the awardee institutions for the National Digital Newspaper Project. NYPL is currently digitizing New York City newspapers for the period 1880-1910, starting with The Sun and The Evening World.
About The New York Genealogical and Biographical Society
The New York Genealogical and Biographical Society, popularly known as the "G&B," was founded in 1869. It is the second oldest genealogical society in the United States (after the New England Historic Genealogical Society, founded in 1845), and has continuously published since 1870 the second oldest quarterly scholarly journal in the English-speaking world, The New York Genealogical and Biographical Record. When the G&B was founded, New Yorkers who had the interest and time to trace their roots were those whose lineages stretched back to the colonial period, and the Society for its first hundred years catered almost exclusively to that population. In the 1970s there were the first signs of change. The 19th century was now more distant than the 18th had been in 1869, and there was increasing interest in its records, which were also now becoming more accessible. Descendants of 19th century immigrants, and Americans of African descent, discovered that they too enjoyed genealogy. The telecast based on Alex Haley's book Roots, the 1976 Bicentennial, and the opening of Ellis Island sparked new interest. Genealogy and interest in historical biography have expanded in recent years with Americans’ increasing mobility, leisure time, and the availability of resources on the Internet. The G&B’s website is Today, the G&B’s mission is: To advance genealogical scholarship and enhance the capabilities of both new and experienced researchers of family history, with emphasis on families and communities connected to New York City, State, and region.

About The New York Public Library
The New York Public Library was created in 1895 with the consolidation of the private libraries of John Jacob Astor and James Lenox with Samuel Jones Tilden Trust. The Library provides free open access to its physical and electronic collections and information, as well as to its services. It comprises four research centers – the Humanities and Social Science Library; The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts; the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture; and the Science, Industry and Business Library – and 87 Branch Libraries in Manhattan, Staten Island, and the Bronx. Research and circulating collections combined total more than 50 million items, including materials for the visually impaired. In addition, each year the Library presents thousands of exhibitions and public programs, which include classes in technology, literacy, beginning genealogy classes] and English as a second language. The Library serves some 16 million patrons who come through its doors annually and another 25 million users internationally, who access collections and services through the NYPL website,

Contact : Nadia Riley 212.592.7177