Remote Research

[Brooklyn Public Library staff members], [196-?], gelatin silver print, CBPL_1032;  Brooklyn Public Library, Center for Brooklyn History. 


This guide is intended to help researchers who cannot visit the Center for Brooklyn History in person. If you still have questions, please email library and collections staff at We’re here to help!

CBH Collections Accessible Online

The following resources are digitally available. While we are merging the Brooklyn Public Library's and the former Brooklyn Historical Society's collections, some resources are temporarily available through two portals. For digital reproductions, contact us at For questions, contact us at

  • Archives
    While the archival collections are not digitally available, the online finding aids (guides) often contain helpful contextual information about people, places, and businesses. In the finding aids, click "Access Points" in the left hand menu pane to find subject names, topics, organizations, and other related search terms that may support your research.
  • Art & Artifacts
    A small portion of our art and artifacts collection has been digitized and is publicly available. 
  • Book catalog
    On occasion, a book in the CBH collection is availble as an e-book in the general Brooklyn Public Library system. Adjust the filters in the catalog's right hand menu pane to search formats outside of e-books, or to focus on the CBH collection exclusively. Titles may also be found outside the system through Project Gutenberg, the Internet Archive and its OpenLibrary, the HathitrustGoogle Books and similar sites.
  • Brooklynology blog
    Fascinating Brooklyn stories on a wide range of topics from the Center for Brooklyn History's librarians and archivists. Search blog topics in the Brooklyn Public Library's site search.
  • Directories
    Many city and telephone directories have been digitized. Additional directories are available at CBH or the Central branch of the Brooklyn Public Library system (10 Grand Army Plaza).
  • Film, Video, and Audio recordings
    Explore our digitized film, audio, and video recordings through the Internet Archive.
  • Map Collections
    • Brooklyn Public Library 
    • Former Brooklyn Historical Society 
    • Fire Insurance Maps Online - New York State high-definition, full-color fire insurance maps from Sanborn and other publishers, real estate atlases, plat books, and other historical maps. The site has an Interactive map search, and Geo-referenced or search by place name and drop-down menus. A Brooklyn Public Library card is required.
  • Newspapers
    • Brooklyn Newsstand - Search 44 newspaper titles, including the full run of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle newspaper (1841-1963) and Brooklyn Life (1890-1931), a Brooklyn Society Magazine.
    • Brooklyn High School newspapersSchool news receives the most attention in the papers, but community events, as well as matters of national and international interest, are reported on as well. The bulk of the papers in the collection span the mid-1950s to the mid-1960s.
  • Oral Histories
    The majority of the Center for Brooklyn History's oral histories are available online.
  • Photographs and other images
    A larger portion of the Center for Brooklyn History's photographs, prints, illustrations, postcards, and other images are digitally available.
  • Research Guides & Tutorials
    The Center for Brooklyn History has created a number of research guides — like this one. These guides on popular topics are intended to help researchers working with the CBH collections (primarily) and beyond (secondarily). Video tutorials on CBH databases and resources are also available on this page. 

Digitized primary sources and online exhibitions

Center for Brooklyn History
While the Center for Brooklyn History’s manuscript and archival collections are largely undigitized, there are a few notable exceptions:

Outside Resources 


In addition to the Brooklyn Newsstand, available through the Brooklyn Public Library, the following resources provide access to digitized newspapers.


Data and Reference Sources

Digitized Books

Henry Stiles’ three-volume work, A History of the City of Brooklyn: Including the Old Town and Village of Brooklyn, the Town of Bushwick, and the Village and City of Williamsburg (1867 – 1870) contains lots of detailed information about individuals, farms, businesses, streets, and more through the mid-19th century.

I.N. Phelps-Stokes’s six volume The Iconography of Manhattan Island, 1498-1909 is an invaluable text that includes information not just about Manhattan, but about Long Island and Brooklyn as well.

Eugene Armbruster’s The Eastern District is an excellent resource for the history of Bushwick, Williamsburg, and Greenpoint, and especially helpful in understanding street name changes.

House, Property And Neighborhood History

Fire Insurance Atlases

Fire Insurance Atlases are one of CBH's most frequently-used resources. During our closure, researchers have several alternative resources:



Building Ownership, Businesses and Residents

Architectural and Structural Information

  • Department of Buildings’ Buildings Information System provides block and lot numbers, certificates of occupancy, work orders, building violations, landmark status, etc. However, be aware that many of the scanned certificates have been incorrectly matched with the addresses; make sure to read the certificate closely to see if it is indeed related to your block and lot.
  • The Real Estate Record from Columbia University provides sales, mortgage, conveyance, and other data about buildings in and around New York City from 1868 to 1922.
  • New York Real Estate Brochure Collection from Columbia University consists of over 9,200 advertising brochures, floor plans, price lists, and related materials that document residential and commercial real estate development in the five boroughs of New York and outlying vicinities from the 1920s to the 1970s.
  • Landmark Designation Reports: If your neighborhood is landmarked, you will find lots of helpful research on the history of the architecture and land ownership here.

Family History Research


  • Usually 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 (through 1940) as well as many other records. is available through September 2021 here to BPL library card holders.

Brooklyn Directories, 1856 – 1967

  • These residential and classified directories were digitized by CBH and are available online through the Internet Archive. Early directories sometimes indicate the person’s home address with the initial “h”.

Brooklyn Genealogy Information Page

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

  • This Church of Jesus Christ and Latter-Day Saints genealogy website has made many genealogy 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. Despite the name, the website is not exclusive to those of German ancestry.

Kings County Estate Files (1866-1923)

  • Brooklyn probate records have been digitized and made available online for the years 1866–1923.

Italian Genealogical Group

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


  • Genealogy website dedicated to African-related ancestry.

Ellis Garden Passenger Search

  • 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; Electoral District /Assembly District 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 find out when and where your ancestors were buried there.

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.

Find A Grave

  • Searches cemeteries and grave records from around the world

Brooklyn School Newspaper Collection

  • CBH has digitized numerous school newspapers and made them available on Internet Archive