Your Guide to Finding New York Ancestors

Wikipedia's New York entry gives facts and information about the state and you can click on any of the links at the bottom of the page for information about a county, city or other local informtion.

Be sure to also use the Wikipedia List of Counties in New York State. Remember: each county name on the chart is a clickable link.

New York State Facts and Information Move your cursor over the map to locate a county; Click on a county on the map to get facts and informaton for that county

*Basic Guides * Maps * All-county sites * Libraries Archives & Societies *
* County & Town Historians * Records * Contact Others * More Links

Basic Guides to New York Research There is nothing more helpful that a handy reference book with information specific to the area you are researching. I've listed below those that I know about.

All of the three books listed below have a small section covering each state that includes maps, historical information, vital records coverage and a bibliography of resources for that state.

Here are some books specific to New York research:


Online... bookmark or print out these FHL documents:

Gazeteers, Maps and Atlases:

Sites that cover all or multiple counties of New York -- usually each county is a separate section.

Libraries, Archives and Societies

County and Town Historians, Clerks and Resources

New York has a system of county and town historians that often serves the genealogical and historical researcher very nicely. This article describes how the system works.

In addition to county historians, there are village, town and municipal historians. Some are very active and helpful, some inactive and unhelpful -- and many somewhere in between.

Cemetery * Census * Court & Legal * Immigration and Naturalization * Newspapers * Vital Records

You will want to see what records are available through the Family History Library, bu searching the FHL Catalog. Remember: "view related places" to see what is available at the town or village level, as well as the county level.

Cemeteries: for general information on cemetery records, see guide to cemetery records, this website.

Book: The Graveyard Shift: A Genealogist's Guide to New York City Cemeteries (note this is only NYC and is research aid, not a compilation of transcriptions.)

Search these online cemetery transcriptions

Census; for general information on using and finding census records, see guide to census records, this website.

The FamilySearch Wiki has a very helpful chart of New York census records, with availability online noted and links included.

Court & Legal

Land & Property: For general information, see guide to land records, this website.

New York land records provide some special challenges. In addition to the original transfers of land from the colonial or state governemnts, land was given or as payment for military service, both as set of from the military tract of lands set aside for that purpose and by confiscating the land of loyalists and selling it to patriots. Much land was sold in very large amounts to individuals or land companies, who then sold or leased the land; those records being a part of the papers of that enterprise. And finally, land is sold as we know it, by deed, individual to individual. New York Land Records -- an overview New York is one of a few states that uses both metes and bounds and townships to identify pieces of land.


Probate Records: For general information, see guide to probate records, this website.

Immigration and Naturalization

If your ancestors came into New York through Ellis Island, you will want to search the Ellis Island site. Prior to it was Castle Garden.

There are some online searchable New York naturalization records and indexes.

If you had ancestors in New Netherlands, you will be interested in work of the New Netherlands Institute. (Note -- when searching the project, you an truncate the search with an *. For example van keu* finds pages with the word van and any word that starts with keu. But if you use quotation marks "van keu" will find onlypages containing a word that begins with those 6 letters.

Work with others Leave a query on a New York county message board or see if one of the volunteers at Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness: New York can help you.

Other links:
Now look for more helpful New York links:


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This page last updated June 12, 2011