Saturday, March 18, 2017
A Guide to New York State Genealogy Resources Online -- Part Two
Have you noticed that the vast majority of the disaster and monster movies focus on New York City? For genealogists who like to watch those kinds of movies, this highlights the importance of the records found in the Empire State. The first European land claim to the area that is now New York State came in 1609 from Dutch explorers. In 1626, the Dutch "bought" the island of Manhattan from some Native Americans. Stories from this time period focus on the low price paid for the land, but there are also speculations that the Natives did not "own" the land in the first place and so the transaction set the stage for the long history of land speculation and commerce in the area. England eventually pushed the Dutch out and renamed the land, New York after the Duke of York who later became King James II and VII. See Wikipedia: History of New York.
FamilySearch.org has 50 collections of free records from New York State going back to land records as early as 1630 and probate records beginning in 1629.
One definite benefit to genealogists is the existence of New York State Census records beginning in 1825 and continuing in 1835, 1845, 1855, 1865, 1875, 1892, 1905, 1915 and 1925. These are particularly significant because of the loss of 1890 U.S. Federal Census records.
The vast New York Public Library has a huge and important collection of genealogical records. See Genealogical Research at The New York Public Library.
A convenient list of New York counties and a summary of their genealogical records in on the New Horizons Genealogy website's "Search Free New York Genealogy Records Online." Repeated Google searches for New York genealogy records will produce listings to hundreds of useful websites. It is highly unlikely that any one researcher could do an exhaustive search of all of the records in New York State even those that are available online.
For many researchers, the immigration records from locations in New York are extremely valuable. From 1820 to the opening of Ellis Island in 1892, approximately 11 million immigrants came through Castle Garden on the tip of Manhattan Island now known as Castle Clinton National Monument. The free CastleGarden.org website has a searchable database of these 11 million immigrants.
Castle Garden was replaced as the immigration processing center by the opening of Ellis Island in 1892. A searchable database of approximately 52 million passenger records is maintained by The Statute of Liberty - Ellis Island Foundation Inc. However, researchers should be aware that many other ports of entry existed in the United States and searching immigration and passenger lists can sometimes require some rather extensive genealogical detective work. For example, one of my own immigrant families entered the United States in Passamaquoddy, Maine.
One unusual and interesting website is the Old Fulton NY Post Cards website with over 37 million pages of historical newspapers from the U.S. and Canada, including New York State. Although this website is rather strange, it is useful.
To be continued
The first post in this series can be found here: