Family History and Genealogy Research


[Group Portrait of Sunday School Class], ca. 1910, lantern slide, V1981.284.13; Emmanuel House lantern slide collection,
Brooklyn Public Library, Center for Brooklyn History. 


The Center for Brooklyn History provides this guide for those researching genealogy in Brooklyn and Long Island. This research guide gives an overview of the many resources available at the Center for Brooklyn History, as well as at institutions across New York City. In addition to these materials, researchers are encouraged to browse the collections and research guides for resources that may be relevant to their work. To create an appointment or ask a question, please contact is a searchable database of billions of historical records including census, military, birth, marriage, immigration and death records. Records can be downloaded in JPEG or PDF format. This resource can only be accessed in library branches. A freely accessible alternative is


Our collection of historic Brooklyn atlases ranges 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 their construction material (e.g. pink indicates brick, yellow indicates wood). Most hurches, schools, cemeteries, and parks are identified, as well as some larger businesses. 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 determining old block and lot numbers, as well as former addresses.  A full list of the atlas collection is available here.


This booklist highlights a number of genealogical reference titles in our collection. Because this list is not comprehensive, researchers are encouraged to browse the catalog for additional titles.

We have a large collection of bound histories of specific families. To find them, search the book catalog using the surname plus “family” (e.g. “Smith family”).

To find additional genealogical books, conduct a subject search for "genealogy" in the book catalog. Browse the results for related search terms that appear in the facets or bubbles below the title and call number (see example below, which includes facets for "registers," "registers of births, etc."). Use these to further your research. Additionally, when searching in the book catalog, always use quotations around search terms longer than one word (e.g. "baptismal register").

Because the book collection is non-circulating, titles cannot be placed on hold online. To request books, please contact us at Click the heart beside the book title to create your own booklist (sign in to your account first).

Brooklyn & Long Island Scrapbooks

The Brooklyn and Long Island scrapbooks collection consists of newspaper clippings from the 1860s to the 1960s gathered from local Brooklyn and Long Island newspapers. Articles are viewable on microfiche and are accompanied by a navigational card index, which is separated into two sections, one on Long Island, the other on Brooklyn.  Within each major division, the catalog is organized alphabetically by subject, individual, or business/organization.  Each card lists the volume and page numbers on which its described contents can be found.

Brooklyn & Manhattan Directories

Before phone books, city directories listed resident names and addresses; some directories also listed profession, work address, and race. Our holdings intermittently cover the years of 1786 to 2017. While the collections of the Brooklyn Public Library and the former Brooklyn Historical Society are beging merged, the collections can be accessed by three methods:

Brooklyn Newsstand

The Brooklyn Newsstand contains 44 local newspapers digitized in a partnership with Dates range from 1809–1964 and include Brooklyn-wide titles such as The Brooklyn Daily Eagle and Long Island Star, as well as small neighborhood papers such as Greenpoint Weekly Star and the Bay Ridge Home Reporter. Researchers can use the newsstand to keyword search articles by name, address, organization, and event. A tutorial can be found here.

Additionally, a card index of marriage and death notices abstracted from the Long-Island Star and Brooklyn Evening Star for the years 1809–45 is available at the Center for Brooklyn History. 

Cemeteries & Burials

The Center for Brooklyn History holds materials on burials and cemeteries in the archives, the book collection, the former Brooklyn Historical Society’s image database, the digital collections, and map collections. Search “burial” or “cemetery”. Location of burial is often included in local newspapers, which can be accessed through the Brooklyn Newsstand (tutorial available). 

Although cemeteries are thought of as “the final resting place,” burial isn’t always final and bodies were sometimes relocated for various reasons. See the New York Times article “Why the Brooklyn-Queens Border is Full of Dead People” for some contextual information. To locate a cemetery, try exploring The Cemeteries of New York City’s map. Green-Wood Cemetery is one of the largest cemeteries in Brooklyn and provides a helpful database of burial records from 1840 to 1937. can be quite helpful, but keep in mind that its information is crowdsourced and can be inaccurate.

Census Materials

Search the book catalog to find the types of census materials we have. Below are some suggested search terms:
"Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.) – Census"
"Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.) – Genealogy" and are also excellent resources for census information.

Court Cases

Some court cases are documented in our archival collections and publications, accessible via the finding aid portal and book catalog, respectively. Search “court records” or “court case” or the name of the person(s) involved (“surname, first name”). Always use quotation marks around search terms longer than one word.  Images relating to court cases may be found in the Brooklyn Public Library’s digital collections (use the right menu pane to filter to “photographs”) or the former Brooklyn Historical Society’s image database. Use such search terms as “criminal courts” “evidence, criminal” “detectives” “fingerprints” “court building” and other related subjects. 

The Brooklyn Newsstand, our database of digitized local newspapers, contains news reports of many legal matters. Often, a long running court case will drop out of the press as it becomes old news.

Outside of the Center for Brooklyn History’s collections, search the New York State Archives website or contact them at For criminal cases, the Kings County Supreme Court, Criminal Term can be reached at (347) 296-1100 (ask for the Archives/Records Room). The New York City Police Department and / or the District Attorney’s Office that prosecuted the case holds files relating to specific police or prosecution records in connection with criminal matters in New York City. The Kings County Clerk’s Office houses most supreme court civil cases and can be contacted at


Eardeley NYS Wills Names Index & Eardeley Manuscripts on Microfilm

William Applebie Daniel Eardeley (1870–1935) was a prolific genealogist hailing from Brooklyn, NY. Over the course of his career he amassed an extensive collection of genealogical information concerning families from all parts of the state of New York. The Center for Brooklyn History has made Eardeley’s collection available to researchers on microfilm.

The Eardeley Collection consists of two components, the Manuscript Collection and the New York State Abstracts of Wills. The Manuscript Collection contains 14 reels of Eardeley’s handwritten notes, which he copied from original documentation in institutions across the state. The reels are arranged alphabetically by family last name. Each family file may contain any number of pages; some files consist of only 1 page while others number over 200 pages. Consequently, the scope of information included in each family file varies, but generally ranges from a family member’s date of birth/death, town of residence, and names and dates of birth/death of the deceased’s spouse and children, to titles of inheritance and copies of wills and deeds. The date range covered by the collection is quite extensive, reaching as far back as the time of New York’s founding up to the early twentieth century. The Manuscript Collection is accompanied by a printed index listing each family last name in alphabetical order and the corresponding reel on which the family file can be found. An alphabetical listing of family names included in the collection is available here. Copies of this collection are also available at other repositories, such as NYPL and the FamilySearch Family History library.

The New York State Abstracts of Wills is comprised of 11 reels organized alphabetically by county name. The reels consist of abstracts of wills, administrations and guardianships compiled by Eardeley during the period 1929–1933, which he copied from original estate proceedings in the counties of New York.  The abstracts generally cover the years 1787–1835, and each county file can range from several hundred pages to over a thousand pages.  In addition, Eardeley indexed on 3×5 cards all the names in his abstracts, i.e., those of the descendants, executors, administrators, petitioners, guardians, witnesses, named beneficiaries and minor children.  This index is available on a collection of 7 microfilm reels and is arranged alphabetically by last name.  Each 3×5 card contains an individual’s name, date of death (if applicable), town of residence, and page number on which the indexed person can be found within the corresponding county file.

The Eardeley Genealogy Collection is a valuable resource for researchers seeking genealogical information on individuals across the state of New York from the time of its founding up to the early twentieth century.


The Brooklyn Letterhead Collection spans 200 years of business in Brooklyn. Several thousand different businesses, institutions, and organizations are represented, including carpenters, plumbers, painters, city agencies, religious institutions, and more. This complete listing of the names, addresses, and dates from the letterhead collection should prove useful to genealogical researchers, those interested in the history of various industries in Brooklyn, neighborhood historians and many others. Many of the letterheads are visually interesting as well, with elaborate typefaces, intricate imagery, and archaic handwriting.

Vital Statistics

While the library does not hold birth, marriage, or death certificates, we do have a variety of transcriptions compiled by genealogists. Search the catalog to find the titles in the library. Below are some suggested search terms. Search tip: use quotation marks around your searches (e.g. "Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.) – Statistics, vital"). 

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

The New York City Municipal Archives holds Brooklyn's birth (1866-1909), death (1847-1853, 1857-1948), and marriage (1866-1949) records. They are undertaking a mass digitization project to provide online access to their 13.3 million historical vital records. Browse the records by certificate number or by name (in beta). Records that are not digitized are available by appointment or can be ordered for a fee of $18.00.  The NYC Department of Records and Information Services holds vital records from 1760-1949 (with gaps). A large portion of their collection is digitally accessible through the NYC Historical Vital Records Project.

More recent vital records are maintained by the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Birth certificates are made publicly available 125 years after the event, while death certificates are available 75 years after the event. Those with familial connections may obtain access earlier through an application process. 

Archives & Manuscript Collections Genealogy Materials

In addition to genealogical materials in the library, many relevant materials are held in the archival collections. These can range from collections of family papers with information on several generations of one family to the research files of a specific genealogist. 

Additional Family & Genealogy Resources

The Gottlieb family. Family gathered around Passover table, 1958, black and white photograph, BJHP_0184;
Brooklyn Jewish History Project, Brooklyn Public ​​​​​Library, Center for Brooklyn History. 


While the Center for Brooklyn History holds many genealogy resources, additional and supplemental research can be done outside of the library.  This list was compiled to help those interested in genealogy relating to Brooklyn, Long Island, and New York.


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

Library catalogs, handbooks and guides, New York City vital records, indexes, passenger lists, census records, naturalization petitions indexes, U.S. military sources, Daughters of the American Revolution 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.

The Archives at Queens Library
89-11 Merrick Boulevard
Jamaica, NY 11432

Local history and genealogy with a focus on Queens, Nassau and Suffolk counties.

Brooklyn College Local History Research Collection

For a subject outline of this collection, which includes Brooklyn library and archives materials dating from the seventeenth to the twentieth centuries, go here.

Record Repositories

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, naturalization papers, business files, court records, mayors’ papers, City Council records, Board of Education records, etc.

Kings County Surrogate’s Court
2 Johnson Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201
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, third Floor
New York, NY 10004
Toll-free: 1-866-840-1752
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
Repository for civil court filings, such as name change petitions.

Genealogy-Related Websites
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.

Genealogy website dedicated to African-related ancestry.

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

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

FamilySearch Digital Library
Over 500,000 genealogy books, family histories, maps, yearbooks, and more.

German Genealogy Group
Provides a detailed database search of numerous vital records information. Despite the name, the website is not exclusive to those of German ancestry.

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 find out when and where your ancestors were buried there.

Italian Genealogical Group
Includes many indexes, such as searchable birth, marriage, and death indexes. Not limited to those of Italian ancestry.

Kings County Estate Files (1866-1923)
Brooklyn probate records have been digitized and made available online for the years 1866–1923.

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. The website explains how to request these records.

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).

New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1891
Passenger lists for over 13 million immigrants arriving in New York City from 1820 through 1891.

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

Stephen P. Morse
One-step portal for immigration records and genealogy; birth, marriage and death indexes; Electoral District /Assembly District finder for census research.