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From our eLibrary: New York State WPA Archive Inventories and Abstracts

Many of the buildings, parks and roads that we use in our local communities today are there thanks to the Works Progress Administration, one of the most successful relief agencies from the New Deal.

But the WPA did more than just build infrastructure. Genealogists will be thrilled to see the results of the Historical Records Survey, which are still immensely valuable to genealogical and historical research.

The goal of this ambitious project was to discover, preserve and inventory all of the basic materials for researching the history of the United States. We have 29 publications related to counties and cities of New York State in our eLibrary.

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rensselaer county

Searching for Records in Rensselaer County, NY

The area that is now Rensselaer County was originally home to Mohican Indians. In 1610, Dutch vessels plied the waters of what would become known as the Hudson River and surveyed the area; thirteen years later, a group of eighteen Walloon families became its first European settlers. Killian Van Rensselaer, a Dutch merchant who dealt in jewelry and diamonds, obtained a patent for the land in 1629, establishing the patroonship of Rensselaerwyck, along with a system of tenant farms administered by patrons that would endure into the 19th century. The land held by Rensselaer constituted one portion of the territory in the American Northeast controlled by the Dutch West India Company. By the time of the American Revolution, it had passed into British hands. The county of Rensselaer itself did not come into existence until 1791, when it was split from Albany County. Continue reading

Painting of Troy from Mount Ida

Two new online databases for Troy, New York

Our friends at the Troy Irish Genealogy Society have recently added two new digital databases to their already impressive collection.

Marriage Notices Appearing in Troy Newspapers 1797–1860

The first is an index to 6,177 marriage notices covering 12,354 names published in five different Troy, New York newspapers 1797–1860, originally created by the Troy Public Library staff (1938–1939).

Since these records pre-date the 1880 law requiring all marriages to be recorded, they are very valuable – finding evidence of these marriages elsewhere may be difficult or impossible.

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Guide to New York City’s Treasured Archives Released

NEW YORK, NY — The New York Genealogical and Biographical Society (NYG&B) is pleased to announce the release of New York City Municipal Archives: An Authorized Guide for Family Historians.

The 245-page guide will make research at this vital facility far more approachable and will introduce researchers to many previously-unknown record collections housed there.

As one of the world’s largest repositories of city records, the holdings of the New York City Municipal Archives offer untold resources for those tracing the history of New Yok City and its families. But until now, it has remained difficult for anyone but the most experienced researcher to navigate more than the basics of this essential archive. This new guide, created with the assistance of the New York City Municipal Archives, will make it possible for genealogists, family historians or anyone researching New York City’s vast history to leverage the hundreds of key collections found there.

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An Exciting Update to the New York City Marriage License Index

Terrific news for New York Genealogists!

Additional indexes (1930-1995) to the New York City Clerk’s marriage license and affidavits will become freely accessible online in the future. The data set indexes approximately three million names – many of which have never been accessible before – and covers 65 years of New York history.

These records have been released through the work of Reclaim the Records and will be made available with the assistance of the Internet Archive, FamilySearch, and others in the future.

The marriage licenses from the City Clerk’s office contain some unique information (differing from what is on a marriage certificate) that can be hard to find anywhere else.

Read on for some expert advice on the collection, including what information you can find. Continue reading

From Our eLibrary: Voices of the Irish Immigrant: Information Wanted Ads in The Truth Teller, New York City 1825-1844

Voices of the Irish Immigrant: Information Wanted Ads inThe Truth Teller, New York City 1825-1844 was compiled by Diane Fitzpatrick Haberstroh, MLS, and Laura Murphy DeGrazia, CG.

In the two decades preceding the Famine there was already a considerable Irish immigration to North America, and given the limited communications of the time it was easy to lose track of relatives and friends who had crossed the Atlantic. “Information wanted” ads in newspapers were a means of locating these lost individuals. Continue reading

Searching for Records in Columbia County, NY

Located in eastern New York, Columbia County is bordered by Dutchess, Rensselaer, Greene, Ulster and Albany Counties.  Columbia was one of the first counties in New York to be settled by European colonists.  Major land transactions for this region include the Rensselaerswyck purchase of 1629 and the Livingston Manor purchase of 1686. In 1710, Robert Livingston, a Scottish colonist, sold 6,000 acres of property in present-day Columbia County to the Queen of England, to be used for work camps and housing for around 1,200 Palatine German refugees.  Originally part of Albany County, Columbia County was formed on April 4, 1786.  Today, Columbia’s county seat is Hudson.

If you are searching for records in this region, you should try visiting the Columbia County Historical Society, Museum, and Library.  Their holdings include church and cemetery record transcriptions, census indexes, city and county directories, family genealogies, local history and genealogy books, family surname les, and photographs. They house indexes to deaths, marriages, and births from county papers 1800–1930, and their website contains index to cemetery books and catalog of manuscripts held in research library.

While in Columbia County, if you are searching for records in Germantown, NY, you should visit the Germantown History Department.  Their holdings include genealogies, local history, cemetery records, Civil War letters, maps and atlases, photographs, religious records, Germantown Central School yearbooks (some online), veterans records, and wills. They also have resources for Palatine family research.

A copy of our complete Columbia County Guide is available for purchase on our website.