Your Ancestors Are Being Released from Hostage on Saturdays

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 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Another huge resource of unpublished data is in the hundreds of volumes of manuscript or typescript books that were assembled by the various NYS chapters of the  National Society Daughters of the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. – 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:

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!

4 Responses to “Your Ancestors Are Being Released from Hostage on Saturdays”

  • Loren Fay:

    so far as of 3-1-2011, the NYS Library and Archives are still open on Saturdays, 9 am to 5 pm, with staff on duty to help you find records… I hope that the state budget crunch does not change that… the NYS Museum has begun to close on Sundays to conserve funds, but they are still open on Saturdays as well… some Saturdays the library is a buzz of activity, others it is quiet as the old libraries used to be. The parking in both lots by the Library and Museum is free on Saturdays.

  • richhill:

    Thanks for the update Loren. Good to know.

  • Loren Fay:

    I have been loving the Saturdays at the NYSL… it is usually a quiet day, with plenty of room to look at various resources, print copies, etc. One saturday my own research was not working out, so I recalled wanting to trace a friend’s family… I began with the free access at the NYSL with the Social Security Death Index for her father’s info… this was after the 1940 NY census index was released on Ancestry, so I noticed that reference given as a clue on the right side of the research screen and clicked on the 1940 info… that gave me the clue i needed to trace them from NY to VA, as in the 1940, the family was shown to have originated in Halifax county, VA… they moved north to NY in the 1930s. That one afternoon at NYSL led to tracing them back thru census and other records back to the 1700s in Halifax County, VA… they were plantation owners, they had slaves that eventually became a part of the family… at least one ancestor is a recognized DAR patriot of the Revolution, and at least one is a Confederate soldier… it was almost like the PBS Finding Your Roots shows… I did it like they did, making prints of many records and putting them in a binder to give to my friend, who was totally surprized and loved it all… she is sharing it with her large family of relatives and I hope it made their Fourth of July a bit more special this year. The family name I searched for her was the Carr family… by looking on World Connect and simply googling the Carr family of Halifax county, VA, I also found others who share the same ancestry and could print out their info for comparison with what i saw in records on Ancestry… Loren Fay Albany, NY.

  • nygenes1:

    Hi Loren, Your experience in knowing what to look for by having done it the old fashioned way was no doubt a big leg up on that jiffy family tree. I am always amazed when I go to the computer and find new data or clues to families that I have been working on for years. These are exciting times for genealogists. My apologies for not responding sooner. For some reason the email notification of the blog had quit working and I had not updated the site in quite along time. Always glad to hear from you and thanks for the update on Saturdays at the NYS Library.

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