Family and Genealogy Research

The Othmer Library and archival collections contain many resources for those interested in genealogy and family history research.  Click here for a detailed listing of resources which are most frequently consulted by genealogists and family historians.

This resource list is available as a downloadable pdf here.

Genealogy and Family Research at BHS

The library at BHS has many resources available for those interested in genealogy and family history research. The following is a guide to the BHS resources most frequently consulted by genealogists and family historians. You can scroll through the page, or click on the links below to take you to the description of a particular resource. To download a PDF version of this guide, click here.

Brooklyn and Manhattan Directories
Eardeley NYS Wills Names Index & Manuscripts on microfilm
Brooklyn & Long Island Scrapbooks
Long Island Star
Historic Brooklyn Atlases
Vital Statistics
Census Materials
Family Histories
Genealogical Reference Materials
Archival & Manuscript Genealogy Materials
Additional Family & Genealogy Resources

Brooklyn and Manhattan Directories

Before phone books, city directories listed resident names and addresses; some directories also listed information such as profession, work address and race. Our holdings ranging from 1796-1913. You can browse the specific years of the BHS collection by doing a title search of “Brooklyn city directories” or “New York directories” on BobCat, BHS' library catalog.

Eardeley NYS Wills Names Index & Eardeley Manuscripts on Microfilm

William Applebie Daniel Eardeley (1870-1935) was a prolific genealogist who, during his career, transcribed and collected masses of genealogical data.  Our microfilmed holdings represent only a portion of his work, and are composed of two parts: his manuscript research files on specific families, and The New York State Abstracts of Wills, a compilation of wills, administrations and guardianships copied from original estate proceedings in the counties of New York, generally covering the years 1787-1835.  A more complete description of the collection and an index of surnames is viewable here.   

Brooklyn & Long Island Scrapbooks

This collection consists of newspaper clippings from the 1860s to the 1960s, gathered from local Brooklyn and Long Island newspapers. All articles are viewable on microfiche and are searchable by a subject card index. A more detailed description is available here.

Long Island Star

One of the earliest newspapers to run in Brooklyn, the Long Island Star was published from 1809 to 1863.  The library has the entire run on microfilm as well as a card index of marriage and death notices abstracted from the Long Island Star and Brooklyn Evening Star for the years 1809-1845.

Historic Brooklyn Atlases

The BHS’ collection of atlases range in dates from 1855 to 1929.  Most of our atlases are bound fire insurance maps, which show Brooklyn block-by-block.  The buildings are color-coded according to what they are made of (i.e. pink indicated brick or stone and yellow indicated wood).  Larger businesses are identified as well as churches, schools, cemeteries and parks.  While the atlases serve a multitude of purposes, they are particularly helpful when trying to determine the age of a building.  They are also helpful in trying to determine varying addresses (which often changed pre-1900) and also list block and lot numbers.  A full listing of the atlas collection is available here.

Vital Statistics

While the library does not have birth, marriage, or death certificates, we do have a variety of transcriptions compiled by genealogists.   Search BobCat, our online catalog, to find the titles in the library. Below are some suggested search terms:

Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.) – Statistics, vital
Kings county (N.Y.) – Statistics, vital
Long Island (N.Y.) – Statistics, vital
Flatlands (New York, N.Y.) – Statistics, vital
Bushwick (New York, N.Y.) – Statistics, vital
Flatbush (New York, N.Y.) – Statistics, vital
Gravesend (New York, N.Y.) – Statistics, vital
Williamsburg (New York, N.Y.) – Statistics, vital
Register of births, etc.—New York (State) – Long Island
Marriage records – New York (State) – Long Island
Wills – New York (State) – Indexes
Wills – New York (State) – Kings County
Probate records – New York (State) – Indexes  

Census Materials

Search BobCat, our online catalog, to find the types of census materials we have. Below are some suggested ways to search:
Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.) –census
Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.) – genealogy

Family Histories

We have a large collection of bound histories of specific families. To find them, search BobCat, our online catalog, . To see if we have a history for a particular family, do a subject search using the surname + family, i.e. “Call family.” 

Genealogy Reference Materials

If you wanted to find genealogy reference guides you can do a subject search for genealogy on BobCat, our online catalog. You can also browse the results from a general search on the term "genealogy" to see if there is a more specific subject within genealogy that interests you (i.e., the indexes we have for genealogical periodical – “genealogy – periodical” would lead to what books we have).

Archives & Manuscript Collections Genealogy Materials

In addition to genealogical materials within the general library collections, there are many relevant materials within the archives and manuscripts. These can range from collections of family papers with information about several generations of one family, to the research files of a specific genealogist. To begin your search of the archives and manuscript collections, please visit our online catablog, Emma.

Additional Family & Genealogy Resources

While the Othmer Library holds many great genealogy resources, additional and supplemental research can be done outside of our doors. To aid researchers interested in Brooklyn, Long Island, and New York specific genealogy research, we have complied the list of resources below. You can scroll through the page, or click on a link below to take you to a specific resource. To download a PDF version of a guide to these resources and those at BHS, click here.

Record Repositories
Useful Genealogy-Related Websites


New York Public Library

Irma and Paul Milstein Division of U.S. History, Local History and Genealogy
Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street, Room 121
New York, NY 10018-2788
(212) 930-0828
Library catalogs, handbooks and guides, New York City vital records, indexes, passenger lists and indexes, census records, naturalization petitions indexes, U.S. military sources, D.A.R. and Loyalist sources, Irish sources, regional records, newspapers and indexes, city and telephone directories, family histories, periodicals, selected electronic resources for genealogy in the library, photographic collections. 

Brooklyn Public Library

Brooklyn Collection
Grand Army Plaza
Brooklyn, NY 11238
(718) 230-2762
Collection focused on Brooklyn’s history that includes books, maps, ephemera and newspaper clippings.

Queens Public Library

Long Island Division
89-11 Merrick Boulevard
Jamaica, NY 11432
(718) 990-0770
Local history and genealogy with a focus on Queens, Nassau and Suffolk counties.

Record Repositories

New York City Municipal Archives

Department of Records and Information Services
31 Chambers Street, Room 103
New York, NY  10007
Repository of vital records including birth, marriage, and death records for the five boroughs. Specific date ranges can be found on their website. Collections also include tax photographs, municipal records, Board of Education records etc.

Kings County Surrogate’s Court
2 Johnson Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201
(347) 404-9700
If an ancestor had a will probated in Kings County, you can find it on the bottom floor of the Surrogate’s Court, room 109.

National Archives and Records Administration (NARA)
Northeast Region, New York
201 Varick Street, 12th Floor

New York, NY 10014
Toll-free: 1-866-840-1752
(212) 401-1620
Repository of federal records such as military, citizenship, criminal court, bankruptcy etc.

Useful Genealogy-Related Websites

Brooklyn Genealogy Information Page
Extremely useful and eclectic, this website contains information on Brooklyn directories, cemeteries, schools, clubs etc.

Family Search
The Church of Jesus Christ and Latter Day Saints' genealogy website.

Available by subscription, but also freely available at most public libraries, this site offers fully-scanned and searchable federal censuses for all years currently available.

Italian Genealogical Group
Website includes many indexes, such as searchable birth, marriage, and death indexes. This resource is not limited to Italian genealogy.

Genealogy website dedicated to African related ancestry.

Castle Garden
Online searchable database of all passengers that arrived to this Manhattan immigration port between 1820 and 1892.

Ellis Garden
Online searchable database of all passengers that arrived to this NYC immigration port between 1892 and 1957.

Stephen P. Morse
One-step portal for Ellis Island and Castle Garden Genealogy; birth, marriage and death indexes; ED/AD finder for census research.

Green-Wood Cemetery Burial Search
Created in 1838 Green-Wood Cemetery is Brooklyn’s largest and one of America’s first rural cemeteries.  This online searchable database lets you see when and where your ancestors were buried here.

National Archives Personnel Records Center
This division of the National Archives holds the personnel records for civilian and military employees who worked at the Brooklyn Navy Yard during its tenure as a Naval facility. Their website explains how to request these records.