Family History

Guide to Family History and Genealogy Research at Othmer Library
The following guide highlights BHS resources most useful to genealogy and family research.

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, the 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 onBobCat, 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 finding aids for our archives and manuscript collections, please visit our online search portal.

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 genealogy research related to Brooklyn, Long Island, and New York, we have complied the list of resources below.



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, 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
The Brooklyn Collection at BPL includes books, maps, photographs, city and telephone directories, ephemera and yearbooks.  BPL has digitized and made available online the full run of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle (1841-1955), and a portion of their collection of Brooklyn city directories (1856-1908).

Queens Public Library
The Archives at Queens Library
89-11 Merrick Boulevard
Jamaica, NY 11432
(718) 990-0770
Local history and genealogy with a focus on Queens, Nassau and Suffolk counties.

Division of Old Records
703 Surrogate’s Court
31 Chambers Street
New York, NY, 10007
(212) 374-8236
This collection relates specifically to New York County, and includes naturalization papers, business files, and court records.

Brooklyn College Local History Research Collection
For a subject outline of this collection, which includes Brooklyn library and archives materials dating circa 17th century to the 20th century, go here.


Record Repositories

New York City Municipal Archives
Department of Records and Information Services
31 Chambers Street, Room 103
New York, NY  10007
Information and online application forms for obtaining birth, marriage and death records for the five boroughs.  Collections also include tax photographs, Mayors’ papers, City Council 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)
One Bowling Green, 3rd Floor
Toll Free: 1-866-840-1752
New York, NY 10004
New York location: (212) 401-1620
Repository of federal records, including military, citizenship, criminal court, and bankruptcy petitions.  NARA also provides a useful online guide to genealogy research.

Kings County Civil Court
141 Livingston Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201
Archives – Basement 007
(347) 404-9015
Repository for Civil Court filings, such as name change petitions.


Useful Genealogy-Related Websites

Brooklyn Genealogy Information Page
Detailed search portal for numerous resources on Brooklyn municipal history, directories, cemeteries, police and firefighting, schools, clubs etc.

Online Census Records
The Church of Jesus Christ and Latter Day Saints’ genealogy website has made census records freely available.

New York City Vital Records Index and the Municipal Archives have collaborated to make available indexes of over 10 million New York City birth, marriage, and death records (1866–1948).

In addition, the website German Genealogy Group provides a detailed database search of numerous vital records information, and, despite the name, is not exclusive to German ancestry.

Kings County Estate Files (1866-1923)
Brooklyn probate records have been digitized and made available online for the years 1866-1923, which may be worth a look.

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 at Castle Garden immigration port between 1820 and 1892.

Ellis Garden
Online searchable database of all passengers that arrived at Ellis Island immigration port between 1892 and 1957.

Stephen P. Morse
“One-step” portal for immigration records and 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.