Posts Tagged ‘New York City’
The 1855 New York State Census is now available online at FamilySearch.org as of February 1st, 2013. This is my personal favorite census, and I am quite sure that it should be yours as well.
As most of you know, New York took a census normally every ten years and it generally fell on the five year increments. So you have the decennial federal census on the 10′s and the NYS on the 5′s, with some exceptions. This means that even though New York does not have those easy to use town records of our New England ancestors for earlier times, we do have the glorious NYS census.
Not all of the 1855 census survived, but the largest percentage of it did and we are very fortunate in that. Here is a list of county films that some or all of the 1855 census exist for. Taken from the LDS website catalog:
New York, State Census, 1855
There are some unique items that were asked as questions by the enumerator, called the “Marshall”.
Here is a list of items that the Marshall asked or recorded:
1 – Dwellings numbered in the order of visitation.
2 – Of what material built.
3 – Value.
4 – Families numbered in the order of their visitation.
5 – Name of every person whose usual place of abode on the first day of June was in this family.
6 – Age.
7 – Sex.
8 – Color – whether black or mulatto. (often left blank meaning white)
9 – Relation to the head of the family.
10 – In what county of this State, or in what other State or Foreign Country born.
11 – Married.
12 – Widowed.
13 – Years resident in this city or town. (Unique to all other census, great for migration studies)
14 – Profession, Trade, or Occupation.
15 – Native voter.
16 – Naturalized voter.
17 – Alien.
18 – Persons of color not taxed.
19 – Persons over 21 years who cannot read and write.
20 – Owners of land.
21 – Deaf, Dumb, Blind, Insane, or Idiotic.
Many of the nuclear families were still intact in 1855, as we had no major upheavals in statewide or nationwide events (such as a war,) to cause the families to split. There was no Social Security, and retirement living in group homes was not a normal thing like it is today. So most of the old folks are quite often found living with one of the younger generations. You will find many fathers, mothers, grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc. living in the household.
When you carefully analyze the answers and you discover that your person was born in a certain county and resided in this location for an exact amount of years, it will help you to go back and look for property records in the previous location.
With the 1850 federal census you do see the name of every person in the household, but often you might make a wrong assumption as to the relationships.
Just a couple of hours ago when I first discovered this census online I immediately looked for my 3rd great grandfather, Stephen CHASE, born 1788 in Washington County and had been living since 1816 in Onondaga County the majority of the time in the town of Lysander. Now I have poured through the 1855 Lysander census microfilms page by page many times and even had gone to the Onondaga County Courthouse, County clerks Office archives, and had looked at the actual census books page by page in Lysander and had never found him in forty or more years.
Boom! In seconds I used the search box for Stephen CHASE in Onondaga county, and there he was in the Town of Van Buren! Well why I had never looked there before is beyond me. In this case, by looking at his neighbors I realize that he owned a retirement home, a framed house in the village of Baldwinsville. He said that he had lived in this town for only one year and even though I know that I had searched land records for him before I will now go back and see if I can find anything for him purchasing property in Van Buren about 1854. So this answers a 40 year old question in my own genealogy and I expect in the coming days I will find a great many answers.
Here is how you easily locate the 1855 NYS census on the LDS website.
Go to www.familysearch.org homepage and wait for it to fully load. Then scroll down to the bottom of the home page in the white area and click on the “United States” and wait for it to load. In the list of states on the left select “New York” and wait for it to load. The reason I say wait is because some of us are impatient and you might click off if you don’t see results right away.
At this time there are 31 enormous collections of New York microfilm images available. Scroll down and click on “New York, State Census, 1855″ – 594,539 images – 01 FEB 2013 (recently added or updated.)
When you find your ancestor in search, take time to record or copy and paste the screen shot of the search results as it even gives you an exact citation to use in your genealogy.
Here is an example of Stephen CHASE’s results:
name: Stephen Chase
event date: 1855
event place: E.D. 2, Van Buren, Onondaga, New York, United States
relationship to head of household: Head
estimated birth year: 1789
family number: 370
line number: 8
film number: 870758
digital folder number: 005207142
image number: 00872
Collection: Stephen Chase, “New York, State Census, 1855″
There are multiple was to use this online resource. The quickest and most obvious is to use the name search boxes. You can narrow things down a bit by searching with a known life event, such as; birth, marriage, residence or death. Or you can search with a relationship such as; spouse or parents.
If you do not locate your person with search, (could be a handwriting error or an indexing problem,) you can select “Browse through 84,493 images.” This will take you to the above reverenced county list and from there you can select the town to look in.
Thank you to all those wonderful LDS members and non-member volunteer indexers for making this most exciting tool available to all!
Thursday, September 20, 2012
I am writing this at the Rochester Genealogical Society (RGS) meeting in Rochester, NY where I came to hear a speaker from the New York State Archives who is presenting a program about some exciting news regarding the New York State Department of Health Vital Records Index.
I had an advance notice that there was a possible announcement coming from a lady who told me a couple of weeks ago that the state had a pilot program started to put copies of the Vital Records Index online.
This RGS meeting was announced by Dick Halsey on the NYMONROE rootsweb mailing list, that the speaker, Gail A. Fischer from the New York State Archives will talk on how they are collaborating with Archives.com to index and put online the vital records index that is available on microfiche. So naturally I just had to find out the straight scoop and off to Rochester we go.
Gail gave a full account of how the New York State Archives had partnered with Ancestry.com in 2009 with a three year contract to scan and digitize some parts of the collection of the state archives and to make it available for FREE to NYS residents. They have been doing that right along and it has been a success so the contract was recently renewed.
Some parts of the collection that are available now are; 1892, 1915 and 1925 state census, US federal census mortality schedules for New York 1850 – 1880. The 1880 census schedule of Defective, Dependent and Delinquent Classes and others that you will find when you log in to your free account.
Coming soon through the Ancestry partnership will be World War I Service Cards, NYS census for 1865, 1875, 1892 and 1905. There will also be Naturalization Proceedings and Probate Records.
Ms Fischer gave a lengthy accounting of many of the other types of collections of interest to genealogists at the NYS Archives.
To access your free account at Ancestry you need to log in through the State Archives website at: http://www.archives.nysed.gov/aindex.shtml – Click on “Research” on the left and then the Ancestry.com New York Guick Link. http://www.archives.nysed.gov/a/research/res_ancestry.shtml
This is what you will find:
Ancestry.com New York
Several New York repositories have formed a partnership with Ancestry.com to digitize family history records and make them available on line for free. The list of records available is located in the bottom left corner of the Ancestry.com New York web page. Descriptions of the records as well as the holding organizations are provided through the links and logos on the Ancestry.com New York web page.
How do I sign-up?
Free access to Ancestry.com New York is available to New York State residents. This access requires a free Ancestry.com New York account.
To begin, enter your zip code below, and you will be taken to the Ancestry.com New York search page.
New York State Zip Code:
So go ahead and make your first search and then you will be prompted to fill out your personal information in order to acquire your Free Ancestry New York account. After signing up this one time you will not be required to do this again. If you already are a paid Ancestry member you will not have to fill out the info, it will just take you to your search information.
So the exciting news about the Vital Records Index is that a similar arrangement will be made with another company also owned by Ancestry where the Birth, Death and Marriage Index will be accessed at Archives.com. The Free login details was not provided yet and it was not entirely clear to me if it would be free or subscription based, but be patient and we will find out real soon. When I hear more, I will be sure to tell everyone here on the Upstate New York Genealogy Blog.
The index itself will give you the name of the person, the type of event, the date and location, along with an identifying certificate number. After you know this you may then order copies of the records from the Department of Health in Albany, or you may go to the city, town or village clerk where the event occurred. The Albany method still has a backlog of months, but normally you will have results at the local level in a few days.
The Rochester Genealogical Society meetings are held at 7:00 p.m. at Asbury First Methodist Church, 1050 East Avenue. http://nyrgs.org/
Before the computer and internet days there was a lady born in Buffalo New York in 1887 named, Lutie WETHY. As a single lady, she and her sister , Marjorie, [sometimes Margaret,] moved to Washington, DC., during World War I, to work for the U.S. Government, and they are found there still on the 1920 census.
Lutie married Thomas J. FOLEY in 1925 and afterward most often used her likely middle name of “Janet” Wethy FOLEY. Janet was the given name of her Scottish maternal grandmother, Janet DUNCAN, who had resided with the WETHY family for some years.
Janet Wethy FOLEY became a very active genealogical sleuth, tracking down old church records in attics and places that surely would have been lost forever if she and her husband had not rescued and transcribed the data. Janet collected items of interest from old family bibles, cemetery records and graveyard visits and in 1934 started a magazine style publication named, “Early Settlers of Western New York,” which after issue No. five became, “Early Settlers of New York State.”
Vol. 4 of serial set “Early Settlers of Western New York” contains the following:
“Akron is only our post office address. We do not live there. Our home is on Route # 5, the main highway across New York State from Albany to Buffalo, 25 miles east of Buffalo and 15 miles west of Batavia.
The Copper Tea Kettle”
Janet and Tom operated this property, “The Copper Kettle”. as a “Tourist Camp” meaning they had cabins for travelers and are so listed on the 1930 census. The house in the postcard photo shown below is now gone and has been replaced by a brick home. I talked to one local resident of Pembroke and they recalled that remains of the cabins could be seen just a few years ago.
As I was searching census records on these people I found Janet listed as “Lutie W. Foley” on the 1930 census in Pembroke, Genesee co., NY., and while reading the page was slightly annoyed by the backwards flourish script of the enumerator which took a few seconds to try to decipher, and then found myself grinning openly when I read that Lutie Wethy Foley was the 1930 census enumerator!
Janet was also a constant speaker and lecturer at many different social groups, historical societies, DAR meetings, village and town celebrations and there are many newspaper announcements that are easily located in various digitized newspaper websites online.
The following are just a few of the dozens of newspaper announcements that I read in preparing this article.
1898 - personal announcement
“Mrs. [Janet] George M. DUNCAN and granddaughter, Lutie WETHY, of Buffalo, are the guests of friends in this city.” -
(Lockport Daily Journal, Thurs. 04 AUG 1898 – www.fultonhistory.com)
1929 – obit excerpt (Janet’s mother.)
“Margaret. Widow of Frank E. WETHY, died July 8, 1929 in Hamburg. Mother of; Mrs. [Lutie/Janet] Thomas J. FOLEY, Mrs. [Viola] Thomas W. DOUGAN, Mrs. [Gladys] John W. NEWTON, Mrs. [Marjorie/Margaret] Harry C. SHAFER, Frank H. WETHY and Mrs. [Catherine/Kathryn] Thomas H. WILLIAMS. Services will be at her late residence 197 Union St., Hamburg, burial in Forest Lawn Cemetery, Buffalo.” -
(Hamburg Erie Co. Independent [nd] – www.fultonhistory.com)
1934 – Settlers of Western New York – Serial newspaper articles
[three column article]… Our Aim:
“This column is being published to help American families to learn about their forefathers. Is it helpful to you? Have you looked in vain for your family name?
There is just one way that the editor can help you. Tell him what you want. Send a question. No one can tell how far this paper will go, nor who will read it. Someone may know the answer and solve your problem.
Searching family records requires time and money, but is so worth while. Just now your own paper offers you a valuable service at no expense. Take advantage while you may.
Address all communications, enclosing a stamped envelope for reply, to Mrs. T. J. FOLEY, care of this paper…”-
(Perry NY Record, 10 MAY 1934 – www.fultonhistory.com)
1935 Society column
“Deo-on-go-wa Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution will be entertained tomorrow at the Children’s Home at 311 East Main street by Miss Martha FERRY … Mrs. George W. BABCOCK, the Regent, will preside at the meeting and the address of the day will be given by Miss Janet Wethy FOLEY of Akron, editor of “Early Settlers of New York.”
Miss FOLEY has selected as her subject, “Early Settlers of Western New York.” -”
(Batavia NY Times 12 DEC 1935 - www.fultonhistory.com)
From a 1937 full page newspaper story comes this gem:
“World’s Queerest Hobbies -
Americans lead in Collection of Oddities Gathered from All Parts of the Globe – One Man Likes Miniature Spoons. While Woman Prizes Elephant Covers… [several different types of 'queer hobbies', then:]
Did you ever hear of a ‘cemetery browser’? Well, Janet Wethy FOLEY, of Akron, NY, is one. Her hobby is spending a large part of her time tracking down unidentified tombstones. In the course of her meanderings she finds some queer-reading epitaphs. For instance, in Granville, NY, one of them reads:
‘In memory of Widow B___
Who met her death with no surprise, Jan 3, 1795. Aged 65 years.
N.B – Her son Caleb, by a tender regard, has caused this stone to be erected here”.
Mrs FOLEY admitted another strange-sounding hobby; searching ancient birth and death certificates in old buildings, trunks and churches. It is of course, a form of genealogical research, but it brings richer rewards, she insists, than using the usual method of research: library study.
Mrs. FOLEY is proud of the fact that she has been ‘ancestor hunting’ for twenty years. She explains: ‘Looking for ancestral trees is one of the most fascinating hobbies that one ever enjoyed. The hunt invites you with the promise that you will find many surprises, many famous folks that you did not know belonged to you.’
‘The sad truth is that most families either do not maintain thorough records of their forefathers or they keep none at all’.
Mrs. FOLEY is exceedingly adept at finding old maps of cemeteries and in deciphering them. She has two interesting specimens. One, more than 100 years old, was made of paper and pasted on an old piece of calico. Through the years even the calico got frayed and wore out almost completely.
The lesson told of this map is obvious, Mrs. FOLEY says. It proves that maps bearing the names of people who buy lots in cemeteries ought to be made on something far more durable than paper.” [other queer hobbies...]
(Gastonia Daily Gazette, April 12, 1937 – www.NewspaperArchive.com)
1939 – Newspaper Article excerpt
“October D.A.R. Meeting -
The October meeting ot the Enoch Crosby Chapter, D.A.R., was held Monday, Oct. 9…
Mrs Janet Wethy FOLEY of Akron, NY, who with her husband, Thos. J. FOLEY, compiles and edits the monthly magazine, “Early Settlers of New York State, Their ancestors and Descendants,” spoke briefly but earnestly on the invaluable advantage and incentive of displaying an ancestral chart where a child may see it constantly and become unconsciously influenced by this standard…”
(Putnam County Republican, Carmel, NY – 14 OCT 1939 - www.fultonhistory.com)
1940 – Newspaper Article
“Traces History of Old Families -
A member of an old Western New York family whose hobby has become a life work was in Niagara Falls yesterday afternoon in conjunction with the meeting here of the National Society of New England Women. Mrs. Janet Wethy FOLEY, of Akron, NY., who makes a business of searching old New York state church records and looking up ancestors for those who want to know something about their families, was on hand at the registration desk in the mezzanine of the Hotel Niagara to give information to interested members.
Mrs. FOLEY, who with her husband, Thomas J. FOLEY, has been engaged in this unusual occupation for the past six years, compiles a monthly magazine embodying the results of their researches. These are distributed to libraries and to interested individuals. It all started, Mrs. FOLEY explained, when she wanted to find something about her own ancestors and discovered that vital statistics were non-existent in this state before 1880. That led to a search of church records and since then she and her husband have gone into such study professionally.
Many records which would otherwise be lost beyond all recall have been unearthed in the process., Mrs. FOLEY declared. In her magazine, these names are printed as they are found in the baptismal, marriage and funeral records of the churches, many of which have been out of formal existence for many years. Most valuable feature of their studies, she said, has been to inspire custodians of such records to improve and preserve these valuable files and to search out others.
‘We have found records under the eaves of old farmhouses, records of churches which have not had any congregations for many years,’ Mrs. FOLEY said. ‘Some of these are crumbling to pieces but we have managed to piece them together and make some sense out of the faded writing.’
Asked why she had not added photography to her method of study, Mrs. FOLEY admitted that it was chiefly because neither she, nor her husband knew much about cameras.
‘Besides it is so hard to read many of the names that I don’t see how it would be much help,’ she said. They will continue to copy the records in long hand.”
(The Niagara Falls Gazette – 23 MAY 1940 - www.fultonhistory.com)
1941 –Appointed First Genesee County Historian – January 31,
“The Board of Supervisors of Genesee County appointed the first County Historian, Mrs. Janet Wethy Foley.”
(Genesee County, New York 20th Century-In-Review and Family Histories)
1944 – Founding Member of the New York State Association of County Historians
“Form New State Historians Group
Albany, NY – Local historians are invited to join the recently formed New York State Association of County Historians, State Historian Albert R. COREY announced. Membership is open to all county and city historians and to town and village historians upon recommendation of their respective county historians.
The officers are…[one of the elected members of the Executive Council] Mrs. Janet W. FOLEY, of Genesee county…
The objects of the association are to increase the efficiency and improve the status of its members; to encourage the collection of records of all kinds; to assist the State Historian in compiling an index of historical materials in the state; to aid in research and publication; to assist and cooperate with county and town clerks and all other local officers in the performance of their duties and in the care and safety of the public records; to cooperate with local schools, libraries and museums in their history and social studies programs; to assist in preserving historic sites; to cooperate with others in historical and commemorative exercises and to work closely with local historical societies…”
(Niagara Falls Gazette, Mon Oct 16, 1944 – www.fultonhistory.com)
Janet Wethy foley is third from right)
Her lineal connection to Isaac McWETHY is:
Lutie Janet WETHY (1887-1962) married 1925, Thomas James FOLEY (1894-1949)
Frank Eugene WETHY (1865-1926) married Margaret J. DUNCAN (1863-1929)
Martin Van Buren WETHY (1836-1913) married Sally Jane MORRIS (1838-1933)
Martin McWETHY (1808-1878) married Priscilla WARREN
Silas McWITHEY (1775-1845)
Isaac McWITHEY/McWETHEY of Granville, Washington Co., NY., married Polly MILLER.
Janet and Tom’s Marriage Record:
Groom: Thomas J. FOLEY Bride: Lutie L. WETHY
34 Lyth Ave. 34 Lyth Ave.
Occupation: Stockman Occupation: Tea Room
White – age 31 White – age 38
First marriage First marriage
Birthplace: Boston, Mass. Birthplace: Buffalo, NY
Father: Thomas, b. Boston, Mass. Father: Frank, born Warsaw, NY
Mother: Mary CONLEY, b. Boston, Mass. Mother: Margaret DUNCAN, b. Buffalo, NY
(Note: No dates of birth shown.)
Date of license: June 18, 1925
Date of Marriage: June 20, 1925
Place of Marriage: Buffalo, NY., Official: Lucius E. Ford, minister
Witness: Marjorie J. SCHAEFER, Salamanca, NY.
(Data from Photocopy of Marriage Record from City of Buffalo, City Hall, Buffalo Vital Records.)
1949 – obit:
“Thomas J. FOLEY
East Pembroke, March 7, – Thomas J. FOLEY, 55, of East Pembroke, died at 11:10 o’clock Saturday morning (March 5, 1949) at St. Jerome’s Hospital in Batavia where he had been a patient for a month.
Mr. FOLEY was born on December 18, 1893 in Melrose, Mass., a son of the late Mr. and Mrs. Thomas FOLEY.
He spent his life in genealogical research and had recently been associated with the Farrel, Birmingham Company in Buffalo.
Surviving is his wife, Mrs. Janet Wethy FOLEY, the County Historian.
Friends may call at the Bernhardt Funeral Home at Akron until noon tomorrow. Funeral services will be at 2:00 o’clock tomorrow afternoon at the First Baptist Church of Akron. The Rev. G. Charles Weaver, Thd,, pastor of the Methodist church at Batavia, assisted by the Rev Taylor Light of the Akron Baptist church and the Rev. Hugh Winton of the East Pembroke Baptist church, will officiate. Interment will be in the Wethy family plot in Forest Lawn cemetery in Buffalo.”
(Batavia Daily News – 06 MAR 1949 – microfilm at Richmond Memorial Library, Batavia, NY.)
1962 obit – Janet Wethy Foley
“Mrs. Thomas J. FOLEY, 74, of 100 Summit St., widow of Thomas J. FOLEY, died Monday evening (Jan 8, 1962) at Buffalo General Hospital after an illness of several months.
Mrs. FOLEY was born in Buffalo, the daughter of the late Frank E. and Margaret J. DUNCAN WETHY. She was a member of the First Baptist Church.
Mrs. FOLEY was prominent in activities of the Holland Purchase Historical Society, of which she was past president. She also was active in Deo-on-go-wa Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution. For several years she led DAR-sponsored programs for new citizens during naturalization court sessions. She also conducted bus tours to points of historical interest.
Services will be at 2 pm Thursday at the First Baptist church, conducted by the Rev. Carl J. Spieker, associate pastor. Interment will be in Forest Lawn Cemetery, Buffalo. Friends may call at the H.E. Turner & Co., Inc. mortuary.”
(Batavia Daily News – 09 JAN 1962 – microfilm at Richmond Memorial Library, Batavia, NY.)
Lutie Janet (WETHY) FOLEY – 1887 – 1962
“Friends of the Late Mrs. Thomas J. FOLEY of 100 Summit St., widow of Thomas J. FOLEY, may call at the H.E. Turner & Co., Inc. Mortuary until noon Thursday.
Services will be conducted by the Rev. Carl J. Spieker, associate pastor of the First Baptist Church, of which Mrs. FOLEY was a member at 2 pm Thursday at the church. Interment will be in Forest Lawn Cemetery.
Born in Buffalo, Mrs. FOLEY received her education at Miss Nardin’s academy, Public School 17 and Masten Park High School in that city. She was a past Regent Daughter of the American Revolution, past president of the Holland Purchase Historical Society, former Genesee County Historian and a member of the Genesee Memorial Hospital Auxiliary, the YWCA and its newcomer Club, the Federation of Women’s Republican Clubs of New York State, the State Button Society and was active in other charitable organizations.
Surviving are four sisters, Mrs. Viola F. DOUGAN of Hamburg, Mrs. Gladys W. NEWTON and Mrs. Marjorie J. SCHAFER, both of Springbrook, and Mrs. Katharyn W. WILSON of Auburndale, Mass., a brother, Frank H. WETHY of Hamburg, and nieces and nephews.”
(Batavia Daily News – 09 JAN 1962 – microfilm at Richmond Memorial Library, Batavia, NY.)
“The funeral of Mrs. Thomas J. FOLEY of 100 Summit St., was at 2 pm, Thursday at the First Baptist Church…
Floral tributes included those from the YWCA Newcomers Club, Deo-on-gowa Chapter, DAR, First Baptist Church, Philathea Class of the East Pembroke Baptist Church and the Holland Purchase Historical Society.
Relatives and friends attended from Hamburg, Springbrook, Auburndale, Mass, Rochester, Buffalo, East Pembroke and Batavia.”
(Batavia Daily News – 13 JAN 1962 – microfilm at Richmond Memorial Library, Batavia, NY.)
Wethy Family Plot, Forest Lawn Cemetery, Buffalo, NY., Section 26, Lot# 42. Janet Wethy FOLEY and Thomas James FOLEY Gravestones – Forest Lawn Cemetery, Buffalo, NY.
Lutie Janet's Parents Gravestones – Forest Lawn Cemetery, Buffalo, NY.
So fellow readers of the Upstate New York Genealogy Blog, you may feel comfort in knowing that your queer hobby has grown slightly since the 1930′s.
This article is my tribute to a relatively unsung hero of genealogists everywhere that have ancestors from New York State.
Upstate New York Genealogy
Various census used for this article:
1880 Federal census Buffalo, Erie Co., NY
1892 NYS census, Buffalo, Ward 24
1900 Federal census Buffalo, Erie Co., NY
1915 NYS census, Buffalo, Ward 17
1920 Federal census Washington, DC
1930 Federal census Pembroke, Genesee Co., NY
U.S. City Directories:
Buffalo and Washington, DC.
Editorial comment on “Early Settlers of New York State”
There are hundreds of articles in “Early Settlers of New York State” that will provide clues to your ancestors from areas all around New York State. It appears as though Janet and Tom must have taken research trips all throughout the western parts of the state as well as the Mohawk Valley region and many parts up and down the Hudson River Valley. Unfortunately the original source documents are not described as to location and condition, but you as a genealogical researcher ought to be able to track them down for your own citations.
Here are just a few of the hundreds of topics covered; West Bloomfield, Ontario county, Tombstones Oakfield, Obituary records by surname, personal newspaper items of long ago, Merchant records, Old bible records, marriage records. Church records, Bottenkill/Greenwich, Washington Co., NY., Granville, Washington co., NY., Pittstown, Rensselaer County, Bethlehem, Albany co. Church records, Bennington, VT., Baptist church records, Goodwill, Orange Co., Church records, Troy, NY., Yates county, Hudson, Columbia Co., Watertown, NY., Claverack, Columbia Co., and on and on…
Readers that might want to purchase “Early Settlers of New York State” will find the reprint of the two volume set available at the Genealogical Publishing Company www.genealogical.com. It is also offered as a CD-ROM version which is rather a nice feature to have at your fingertips, as it is all word searchable. You will also find used copies from time to time on eBay, ABEBooks.com and Amazon.com. The original serial sets are rather scarce and hard to find.
Thanks go to the following for their kind assistance in research for this article:
Mary Kay Wright, Western NY Genealogical Society volunteer at the Grosvenor Room of the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library.
Cynthia Van Ness, Buffalo & Erie County Historical Society .
Carol Heffley, Daughters of the American Revolution member.
Staff at Buffalo and Erie County Public Library.
Staff at Forest Lawn Cemetery, Buffalo, NY.
Judy Stile, Research Assistant, Genesee County Historian’s Office.
Tom Tryniski owner operator of www.FultonHistory.com
ps: If anyone has any idea as to where Janet and Tom’s original source records are located it would be great fun to investigate.
Upstate New York Genealogy readers please note, it looks like we are losing another extremely valuable local research facility. The National Archives–Northeast Region in Manhattan has been our nearest location to access NARA record holdings.
Roger D. Joslyn, FASG, sent me this letter and requested that we share it here on UNYG.com/blog in the hopes of creating some public influence on the situation. Roger makes a point to say that none of this information is truly “official” yet but it has been gleaned from various sources that he has.
Please read and take action.
We may be losing the National Archives–Northeast Region as a research facility. Perhaps we can save it and not have New York lose yet another important repository for our research.
Here is the supposed plan, told recently to Stuart Stahl by Diane LeBlanc, NARA’s Regional Administrator in Waltham, Massachusetts, for him to pass the word. So, there is nothing “official” beyond this, and nothing in writing for dissemination.
•NARA-NYC will move in approximately eighteen months to about 5000 square feet over two floors in the Customs House.
•Only about twenty percent of the current collection at 201 Varick Street, textual and microform (not specifically identified to Stuart), will go to the new location in the Customs House. All or most textual material will go to a storage facility in northeast Philadelphia and will have to be transported to New York City for researchers, as off-site textual material in Lee Summit, Missouri, is now.
•Among the textual material to be retained in the new space will be the federal court naturalization petitions not microfilmed and the federal court records docket books, but it is not clear if the originals of microfilmed naturalizations will be retained.
•“Non-regional” microfilm will go to NARA-Pittsfield.
•Certifications of records on microfilm will have to be requested from Pittsfield.
Additionally, the following seems to also be in the plans for the move:
•The volunteer staff will be abolished or reduced, since there will no longer be textual records for them to arrange, index, and so forth.
•The new space will be primarily for visitors to see exhibits. There will be a few computers and, apparently, some microfilm readers and reader-printers.
•The microfiche indexes of New York State vital records will evidently go to the new space, together with associated printed material and microfiche readers.
•Nothing has been mentioned about the fate of NARA-NYC’s library, including published census indexes and so forth.
•Some of us had been led to believe there would be invitations to some of us “regular” users to help NARA staff know our needs and plan the space and collection for the Customs House. It would seem now that, while there may be a “public meeting,” it will only be to tell us NARA’s plans—too late for any changes.
There is probably more that is or will be of concern to all or most of us.
When the move of NARA-NYC became more certain a month or so ago, I had a telephone conversation with Diane. She seemed very excited about the increased display space that NARA will have in the Customs House and explained the need to reduce the research collection because there will not be room. She also mentioned that the lower number of patrons using NARA these days justified the scaling down of the research facility. She did not seem to be concerned about the need many of us have for certification of records for legal matters, or that the microfilm and original textual records were still necessary even though there is much online. She was quite proud to tell me that NARA-Waltham had given all of its “non-regional” microfilm to a library in Plano, Texas. Guess who got the better deal there! Ironically, while New York City is scaling down, the Waltham facility is being expanded!!
I do not think I need to state the obvious to all you seasoned and knowledgeable researchers about the huge loss to us if all the plans noted above are correct and go through. I know I use microfilm of the Federal Census at least once a week in order find what I cannot online or clarify what I do find online, one problem being the annotations that obscure names on the 1900 Census. This is but one example. I am sure you have all found census pages missed by Ancestry, Heritage Quest, Footnote, or “front material” and other pieces not scanned from the microfilm that someone evidently decided we did not need. Sorry! One more example: What about the original ships’ passenger lists, especially the ones where the often abbreviated copy is what is on the NARA film? What will become of these?
Who in Pittsfield will make “my” kind of decision about the best copy to be certified for the court? In the always-tight time breathing down our necks for court cases, what will Pittsfield’s turn-around time be? Will there be added costs since we can no longer get the certifications locally? Will Pittsfield staff make “groupings” of certified records that we often get here to hold down costs?
Personally, while I have enjoyed many of the exhibits at NARA-NYC, I rarely see anyone coming to specifically look at them, and even those who come to do research seem not to pause for a few minutes of viewing.
And it has always been my understanding that one of the great things about our National Archives is its wealth of material for scholarly research. Yes, personal visits are down, but we all know what the majority of those who rely strictly on the magic box are missing. And I do not see much effort by NARA to help educate the unwashed about what is there that cannot be found online.
I very much admire the position of Kathleen Roe, New York State Archives’ Director of Operations. At a meeting there last year, she told our advisory committee something like, “I know financing for archives is tight, but our mandate is to serve the public, and we must make every effort to continue to do so.”
The very upsetting plan seems analogous to a library tossing certain books because no one has taken them off the shelves over the last couple of years.
So, who wants to organize the car-pooling to Pittsfield and Philadelphia? No? Then we should organize a group effort to let our concerns be known. Genealogists have been successful in the past in changing the direction of bad thinking at NARA. Some examples come to mind: When President Reagan proposed John T. Agresto as Archivist of the United States and the genealogical and historical communities formed a loud “No!” to the inappropriateness of the candidate; and when Archivist John Carlin planned to ship huge amounts of NARA material from the regions to cold storage (and some of you were on hand to give your two-cents when he came to New York City). Another example is the great effort genealogists lent to getting NARA away from GSA’s thumb.
Are there others out there, including folks you know in the historical community, whom we should encourage to get involved?
I know after the G&B mess, many of you may not want to devote the time and energy it may take to make a difference, but I look forward to hearing from those who are concerned and want to be involved. Then we can plan something together.