This is the third and final segment of the New York City Research
Guide. Part one included information about vital records, property
records, and estate records. Part two covered naturalization records,
immigration records, court records, religious records, and city
City residents were enumerated in federal, state, and municipal
censuses. They were also counted in other records, such as "juror
censuses" and tax lists.
FEDERAL POPULATION CENSUSES
population censuses that include New York City were done in the
decennial years beginning in 1790. The latest federal population census
currently available is the one taken in 1930.
In 1870, New York
City residents were enumerated twice, due to dissatisfaction with the
results of the first counting. The First and Second Enumerations can
both be searched and compared. The Second Enumeration contains addresses
of residents; the First Enumeration does not. Heads of households in
the 1870 census are searchable on HeritageQuestOnline.
completed an all-name index.
The Family History Library’s
every-name index and abstracts of the 1880 federal census is searchable online. Subscribers to Ancestry.com can link from the
abstracts to the census images.
The 1890 federal census was
almost completely destroyed. Only fragments remain and none from New
York City. But the 1890 Census of Union Veterans still survives.
1910 census is searchable online at Ancestry.com and
HeritageQuestOnline as well as on microfilm with the aid of a street
index on microfiche listing the enumeration districts for addresses in
Manhattan, Bronx, Brooklyn, and Staten Island: Cross Index to
Selected City Streets and Enumeration Districts, 1910 Census [HA201/1910/M1283
The 1930 federal census is searchable online at
Ancestry.com. The census can also be searched by address on microfilm by
finding the E.D. of an address in the street index finding aid
available at the National Archives Northeast-Region (NYC) or through
Family History Centers. Or use Steve Morse’s "Obtaining
E.D.s for the 1930 Census in One Step." The National Archives has a
Microfilm copies of the federal
population censuses in New York City are widely available and can be
searched at various repositories, including all National Archives
branches, the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society Library,
New York Public Library, Brooklyn Historical Society, through Family
History Centers, and online at Ancestry.com, Genealogy.com, and
HeritageQuestOnline. As well as the online indexes, some with soundex
capabilities, there are book indexes to these censuses.
YORK STATE CENSUSES
New York State censuses, taken in years
between federal census years, are currently not indexed and must be
searched by address. Various maps and other finding aids are available,
depending on the census year and locality. New York State censuses of
New York City are widely available on microfilm at various New York City
repositories and through the Family History Library. Original census
schedules are kept at the County Clerk’s office in each county. State
censuses are not available at the National Archives.
censuses are extant for the following years and New York City counties.
Some of the various finding aids are noted. Ward maps are available for
Manhattan/Bronx: (until 1914, Bronx was part
of New York County)
created in 1862 ("Map of the City of New York, City Directory Ofc, 50
Greene St.") is available at the New York County Clerk’s Office/
Division of Old Records, the New York Genealogical and Biographical
Society, and the New York Public Library. It can be used to narrow the
area searched in the 1855 census to a specific ward and election
A street index available on microfilm, "Card Index to
Street Names and House Addresses in New York County," for the New York
State censuses for 1905, 1915, and 1925, facilitates the search.
Addresses in the Bronx are included in the 1905 street index, but not
for the years 1915 and 1925.
Joseph Silinonte compiled the Street index to the 1892 New York
State Census, City of Brooklyn. This book makes searching for the
location of an address in this unindexed census a snap.
index for the 1915 New York State census of Kings County was compiled by
Lois Owen and Theodore R. Nelson and facilitates finding persons when
the address is known. It is available through local Family History
Centers and at the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society.
Among the finding aids are an Index
to Street Addresses for the 1915 and 1925 censuses.
A ward map for
1925 shows the wards, assembly districts, and election districts for
COUNTING AT THE MUNICIPAL LEVEL: JUROR
"CENSUSES," TAX LISTS, AND THE 1890 POLICE CENSUS
the residents of New York City were taken during various years from
1795 through 1829 to assess who was a viable juror. Several electoral
censuses were also taken from 1790 to 1821. Portions of these censuses
survive from 1816, 1819, and 1821. (See Roger D. Joslyn’s article, "New York City Censuses of 1816, 1819, and 1821.")
noted above, the 1890 federal census was destroyed. But because New
York City was dissatisfied with the 1890 enumeration of its inhabitants,
the city took its own 1890 census in Manhattan and the western Bronx.
The enumerators were police officers, and this census became known as
the "Police Census." Fortunately, most of that enumeration survives.
Searchable by address and listing the names, genders, and ages of New
York County residents, this municipal census can be viewed on microfilm
at various New York City repositories, and through Family History
Centers. Parts of this census are available online at Ancestry.com.
Jensen’s three volume Aid to Finding Addresses in the 1890 New York
City Police Census greatly facilitates finding which
microfilm to search when an address is known and indicate which of the
records were lost.
Tax lists, from colonial times into the
twentieth century are also of interest to the genealogist. Among these
are the tax lists of 1793, 1795, and 1796 at the New York Historical
Society and New York Genealogical and Biographical Society; Annual
Record of Assessed Valuation of Real Estate, 1789-1988, available at
the New York City Municipal Archives; and Internal Revenue
Assessment Lists for New York and New Jersey, 1862-66 (M603),
available at the National Archives Northeast-Region (NYC).
Find a New York City
death listed in a death register or on a death certificate, and the name
of the cemetery should be listed.
To locate a cemetery and its
contact information, one book to consult is The Graveyard Shift: A
Family Historian's Guide to New York City Cemeteries, by Carolee
Inskeep [F128.61/A1/I57/2000 also LOAN].
If a death certificate
from 1868 or later names no cemetery, or if the cemetery is identified
as City Cemetery, the person was probably buried on Hart Island, New
York City’s potter’s field from 1868 forward. Records can be accessed
for most years at the New York City Municipal Archives. For more
information, see my article, "New York City’s Potter’s Field: A Visit to Hart Island’s
City Cemetery in Bronx County."
Extant cemeteries keep their
own records and must be contacted directly. Interment lists are provided
for a fee. Cemetery staff will not view or photograph grave markers.
Books and manuscripts of tombstone inscriptions exist for some
Some New York City cemeteries have websites that
give names of the persons buried in their grounds. The cemeteries’
offices can be contacted for additional information. Some cemeteries
with helpful websites are:
From colonial times
forward, military records available to New York City researchers are
plentiful, whether published or in their original form.
handful of the many sources are:
York City has published a vast array of newspapers, with a wealth of
data for the genealogist.
Major newspaper collections can be
found at the New York Historical Society and New York Public Library.
Other institutions with strong collections are the Brooklyn Historical
Society, Queens Borough Library’s Long Island Division, Bronx Historical
Society, Brooklyn Public Library, and Staten Island Institute of Arts
Book and manuscript indexes to various
newspapers, such as the annual The New York Times indexes, The
New York Herald, 1835-1918, and the indexes to the Brooklyn
Daily Eagle, 1891-1902, are also available. Many libraries have
created their own manuscript and card indexes to local papers, such as
the Queens Borough Library’s Long Island Division’s master card
catalogue index of marriages and deaths from the Long Island Star,
1809-1845. The Brooklyn Division also has the Brooklyn Daily Eagle’s "morgue" (clippings of
Abstracts of newspaper notices also abound and are a
boon to the researcher. Among them are James P. Maher’s Index to
Marriages and Deaths in the NY Herald, 1835-70, Vital Records
from the Long Islander, 1847-1870, by Harriet Stryker-Rodda, and
Gertrude Barber’s abstracts (some noted in the section about Vital
More databases of full-text New York City newspapers
are becoming available online, the most notable of which is the
every-word-searchable ProQuest Historical Newspapers database of the
complete The New York Times, 1851-2001. It is available onsite at
the New York Public Library and via remote access for members of the
New York Genealogical and Biographical Society Library. (For research
tips, see this page.)
Of equal importance is the online
database of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 1841-1902, which is
searchable at no cost. The database was created by the Brooklyn Public
Library. As funding permits, the rest of the newspaper will also be made
County Historical Society, Research Library and Archives3309
Bainbridge AvenueBronx, NY 10467718-881-8900By appointment
Brooklyn Historical Society (formerly
the Long Island Historical Society)128 Pierrepont StreetBrooklyn,
Public Library, Brooklyn DivisionGrand Army PlazaBrooklyn,
Center for Jewish History
15 West 16 StreetNew York, NY 10011212-294-8301
The Center for Jewish History and the New York Genealogical and
Biographical Society are also designated Family History Centers, where
microforms can be ordered and viewed.
Society Library122 East 58th StreetNew York, NY 10022212-758-1675
New York City Department of Records and Information Services
City Hall Library (formerly The Municpal Reference
and Research Center 31 Chambers
Street, Room 112New York, NY 10007212-788-8590
New York Genealogical
and Biographical Society Library122 East 58th StreetNew
York, NY 10022-1939212-755-8532
New York Public Library
and Social Services Library (formerly Central Research
Library)476 Fifth Avenue (at 42nd Street)New York, NY
and Paul Milstein Division of United States History, Local History and
Queens Borough Public Library, Long Island Division89-11 Merrick Boulevard, 2nd FloorJamaica, NY 11432718-990-0770
Institute of Arts & Sciences (SIIAS)History
Archives and Library75 Stuyvesant PlaceStaten Island,
NY 10301718-727-1135, x 21
May your research for New York
City ancestry be enjoyable and successful!