New York has a number of historical resources available to historians ranging from academics to local history buffs to genealogists.
A good starting point for a basic search of historical information is to check out the various collections of digital records in New York. One great example is the New York page on USGenWeb. Sites for each state were started 20 years ago as part of the USGenWeb Project. Volunteers in each county in all 50 states share their research, which is managed by a volunteer site coordinator. Since it is volunteer-driven, the information is not consistent from county to county but it is a good starting point, especially for basic history, maps and geographical references. Some counties include vital records such as birth and marriages. Others have transcribed census records.
The USGenWeb state site for New York includes an informative list of each county with its year of formation. The counties are also shown in a state-wide map with a link to the individual’s county site. The listing of counties, for example, shows the nine original counties created in New York in 1683: Albany, Dutchess, Kings, New York, Orange, Queens, Richmond, Suffolk and Westchester. It indicates when the other counties were formed and their originating county. For example, Nassau County was formed from Queens County in 1899 and Putnam was created out of Dutchess in 1812.
The New York State Historic Newspapers website administered by the Northern New York Library Network is another good online research tool. The site includes a map showing links to New York counties with newspapers included. The site includes over 4 million pages and has a search feature.
Residents and visitors to New York City have access to a number of excellent resources for hands-on research. The New-York Historical Society museum at Central Park West and W. 77th St. in Manhattan features the Patricia D. Klingenstein Library, which offers a number of historical resources of New York City history available for research at no charge. The library is open Tuesday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and closed Saturday through Monday.
The Irma and Paul Milstein Division of United States History, Local History and Genealogy is located in the main public library building located at Fifth Avenue and W. 42nd St. in Manhattan. The Milstein Division on the northwest corner of the library’s first level features a reading room. Records from the Milstein collection are accessed by the library’s online catalog and then retrieved by library staff and brought to library patrons seated at tables in the reading room. Hours are Monday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5:45 p.m. Hours on Tuesday and Wednesday are 10 a.m. to 7:45 p.m.
New York City Family History Center, 121 Columbus Ave., is a branch of the Salt Lake Family History Library with access to its collection of over 2.4 million microfilmed records. The FHC is open Tuesday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. For more information, call 212-799-2414.