Tuesday, October 12, 2004



by Paula Stuart-Warren, CGRS

It has been many years since I was last in New York City--that year
was 1966! I recently accepted an invitation from a genealogy friend
to visit her city and stay with her. When she asked what I wanted to
do, I told her that I had two main aims: Ellis Island and the New
York Public Library (NYPL). Not the first choices of "normal"

The trip was planned to take advantage of good weather and of the
local meeting of the New York Metro Chapter of the Association of
Professional Genealogists
their surprise when it was only me.) I already knew a few of the
members and enjoyed meeting others. Sometimes when I travel I attend
meetings of the area genealogical society as it is a great place to
meet genealogists.

I printed out maps of the NYC area to help me find my way around and
figured out how to pinpoint my friend's address.

To prepare for my main aims, I began with online searches. I checked
the websites for Ellis Island and the
NYPL (New York Public Library ) and made notes.

I checked my personal reference file on NYC research. I continually
copy articles and pick up brochures related to places I plan to visit
some day.

Next on the list was skimming my copy of "Genealogical Resources in
New York Metropolitan Area," published in 1989 by the Jewish
Genealogical Society. (A 2003 revision is titled "Guide to
Genealogical Resources in New York." I had not yet purchased it but
reviewed this at my friend's office when I arrived.) I made notes on
some places and specific resources I wanted to check on this trip and
in the future.

The website of the New England Historic Genealogical Society
--click on Education Center) has
articles on NYC research.
I printed these out and highlighted
specific points. I also listened to some audiotapes on NYC research
that I had obtained from Repeat Performance "Regarding Henry" (1991), and "The Day After Tomorrow" (2004).

The Local History and Genealogy reading room has the feel of a real
place to do research with massive wooden tables (with outlets for
laptop computers). Some books are on open shelves, and others can be
retrieved by staff.

I immediately saw something I had known about for years--the
excellent maps that help narrow the locations for finding family in
NYC census records. Even with so many censuses indexed, there are
still times we need to study such maps and go to the specific area on
the microfilm or online.

When I walked into the NYPL I remarked that it reminded me of the
main library back in St. Paul. After some online checking (and info
from my friends) I learned that the NYPL was designed by the
architectural firm of Carrère and Hastings. Then I found that the St.
Paul Public Library's Central Library was designed by Electus Litchfield who studied under Carrère and
Hastings for a time.

I advocate making use of a local researcher to show you the ropes at
unfamiliar research facilities. I was fortunate to have this service
in exchange for a meal. If you don't have genealogical friends in the
area, consider hiring a local professional for a few hours to guide
you. (Hint: See the above link for the New York APG Chapter.)

Whether you live nearby or a distance from New York, think about a
research trip to the Big Apple. You don't need to have New York
ancestors to find lots to research at the NYPL and other places. This
city is a wonderful place to bring along those family members and
friends who don't want to do genealogy. They will not be bored. If
nothing else, they can eat all day in the great restaurants. I
learned to maneuver through the subway system without any problems.

I didn't even make it to other places on my long list of other
wonderful New York City research spots. Maybe I need to work on my
aims for the next trip?


Paula Stuart-Warren, CGRS,
is a professional genealogist, consultant,
writer, and lecturer. She has lectured all across the United States
and coordinates the intermediate course of American Records and
Research at the annual Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy.

She is co-author of "Your Guide to the Family History Library" and an author
for genealogical periodicals including "Ancestry" Magazine. She is a
resident of St. Paul, Minnesota, and spends many weeks each year at
the Family History Library and the U.S. National Archives.

Her roots include ancestors from seven different countries and researching them
has given her broad experience and an occasional headache or two.

Comments will reach her at (PSWResearch@comcast.net ). Paula is
unable to answer individual genealogical research inquiries due to
the volume of requests received.