Historical Documents Available Online
from the New York State Library
The New York State Library in Albany has started scanning and posting on their website several very good research items. There will be a great assortment of them as time goes by but you can start right now with what I consider to be the very best book for New York State research, which is French’s 1860 Gazetteer of New York.
When ever I have teach classes in genealogy I usually start out by saying “Read French’s Gazetteer from cover to cover twice, and then start your research.” Tongue in cheek of course, but it is truly one of the most important books there is to get a feel for the communities your ancestors lived in. What ever you do make sure you read all of the footnotes associated with your page of interest, because you will get many specific details on the earliest settlers, churches, businesses, etc.
Some of the other excellent items of interest are a great assortment of maps, Red Books, Atlases, Census info, 41 county and town histories, and one of the most beneficial collections will be the Reports of the Adjutant General for all of the New York Civil War units. If you have used that great collection of books in the past at your local library you will remember that most of them are rough and broken through years of use. This collection is not complete yet but is a work in progress.
Now, for what ever reason, it seems to work best with Microsoft Internet Explorer. I have been using Mozilla Firefox almost exclusively for a few years now but the library’s digital images did not want to open too well, so I tried IE 6.0 and the images do come up, though slowly. You will absolutely need a high speed Internet connection, (or the patience of Job.) You must allow pop-ups for the website because it opens each document in an Adobe Acrobat pdf format. One other thing I noticed was that the search feature within the documents did not work (at all.) Maybe it is just a bug that needs to be worked out, but you can read all of the documents in their entirety!
Thanks, New York State Library, and all the nice people working on this project.