The New York State Library is going to be open on Saturdays, starting this coming October 16th. This story sounded too good to be true, but it has been verified.
For those of you that work during the week this is a golden opportunity to be able to take advantage of the unique collections and fingertip access to some of the best published and non-published resources for New York State ancestors.
Update: Oct 13, 2010 – Additional information.
This may not be permanent. Some say yes, but one person that works at the library said that this might only be for a couple of months. So readers, if you want to take advantage of this great opportunity you had better plan to go sooner, than later.
One other bonus of visiting on a Saturday is that the two end parking lots outside are free parking.
If it is your first trip to Albany or if you have not visited the seventh floor of the Cultural Education Center in some time, then you will want to ask for a quick orientation when you get to the Genealogy/Local History reference area.
Here in metal filing cabinets you will find those hard to come by New York State census microfilms arranged by county/town for all of the NYS census that has survived. A few of the counties have all or parts of the 1825 and 1835 census, many of them have the 1855, 1865, 1875, and 1892. For those interested in more modern times there are also films for 1905, 1915 and 1925 available.
For a complete list of films available you will want to check out the main website at www.unyg.com and click on the tab marked: NY Counties & NYS Census. Take a look at the far right column for a list of all of the known state census extant.
The state library is also where you will have ready access to the many microfilmed copies of old newspapers that are in the NYS Library Newspaper Project. Nothing like going right to the center of your ancestor’s community to read about the events of the day just as they read them so long ago.
To those who have Civil War Union ancestors that served from New York State, you will discover that the NYS Library and Archives might just have more information on your guy than the National Archives in Washington, DC does. Ask for help from a librarian for the best way to search for Civil War data.
Another huge resource of unpublished data is in the hundreds of volumes of manuscript or typescript books that were assembled by the various NYS chapters of the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR). These wonderful ladies started as long ago as the late 1800′s, collecting bible records, church records, documents and surveyed thousands of NYS cemeteries and sent their lists in to Washington. Then a duplicate copy of these mostly typewritten sheets were also deposited at the NYS Library.
There is a card file index and also a compiled general index to the DAR collection that was done by Mrs. Jean Worden. You may search by county/town, surnames, etc. Most of these thousands of unique DAR records have never been published anywhere.
Check out their website before your trip and you will be able to plan your research goals before you arrive. http://www.nysl.nysed.gov/gengen.htm – If an item is in storage they only pull books at 10 am and 2 pm, so it would be good to know ahead of time what you might need when you arrive.
For directions and a map of the parking areas check this link: http://www.nysl.nysed.gov/locpar_ce.htm
If you have any questions you may call ahead of time at the Local History/Genealogy desk: 518-474-5161.
One other nice benefit of going to the state library is that during the week, the Capital District Genealogy Society (CDGS) mans a volunteer help desk. The nice people of the society are there to assist patrons and help the librarians, but I have not been able to find out yet if there will be a CDGS volunteer there on Saturdays.
Good luck in your search and have fun!