The New York State Library has a Research Library, established in 1818, which collects, preserves and makes available materials that support State government work. The Library’s collections, now numbering over 20 million items, may also be used by other researchers on-site, online and via interlibrary loan.

 

Offerings include:

 

Digital Collections includes:

    • Adirondacks–Adirondack Survey: In 1872, Verplanck Colvin was named to the newly created post of Superintendent of the Adirondack Survey and authorized by the Legislature to institute a survey of the Adirondacks. Colvin directed surveying parties throughout the Adirondacks.  He believed that the entire Adirondack region should be protected by the creation of a state forest preserve. His work lead to the creation of New York’s Forest Preserve and the Adirondack Park. The annual reports from 1872 – 1898 that are being digitized include many maps, drawing and illustrations.  IN PROCESS.Certified Copies of Ancient Field Notes and Maps, 1772-1796, 1797-1798:  This short volume published in 1903 contains certified copies of four original maps that were on file at the time in the office of the Secretary of State. These copies were certified by William Judson, State Engineer and Surveyor of New York. The text of the volume are copies of the original field notes from the surveyors of Macomb’s Purchase, Totten and Crossfield’s Purchase and the Old Military Tract.
    • American Revolutionary War, 1775-1783–The extensive collection of material on the American Revolutionary War, with a focus on New York State, includes items such as troop rosters and other details extracted from muster rolls, colonial New York State history documents, diaries, orderly books, and broadsides.List of American Revolutionary War materials with links to the digital documents.
    • Biographies
    • Building and Construction Codes–The NYS Library has digitized a variety of state building codes and standards originally published from the 1950s through the 1980s by various state agencies. Some related documents, including instruction booklets, proposed amendments, and rules and regulations, are also available online.

      List of NYS building codes and related materials with links to the digital documents

    • Census – New York–The State Census volumes that have been digitized are the published statistical schedules compiled from the original returns under the direction of the Secretary of State which describe the population and economy of counties, cities and towns in New York State. Instructions for the enumerations taking the census have also been digitized, as well as, other related documents.

      List of New York State Census materials with links to the digital documents

    • Civil War–NYSL’s extensive collection of material on the American Civil War includes published materials such as Frederick Phisterer’s New York in the War of the Rebellion, 1861 to 1865; New York State and Federal documents; and numerous primary documents such as letters, diaries, family papers, broadsides, prints, music and maps.List of Civil War materials with links to the digital documents
    • Indexes to New York State Documents–This is a list of the digital copies of bibliographies, guides and indexes from the State Library’s collection that can be used to identify relevant New York State Government Documents and related sources.

      List of bibliographies, guides and indexes with links to the digital documents.

    • History-Colonial Period

      The free, searchable collections include:

      • Agreement for the Purchase of Indian Lands, 1697 October: “This is an agreement for the purchase of land at Ramapo, Rockland County (New York) between Blandina Bayard and the following Native Americans: Zerickham, Mettissiena, Eghkenem, Onarkommagh, Kraghkon, Saeuwapigh Kim, and Nanawaron.”
      • Annual Report of the State Historian: “In 1895, Governor Morton appointed a state historian, whose duties were “to collect … edit, and prepare for publication all official records … and data, relative to the colonial wars, war of the revolution, war of 1812, Mexican war and war of the rebellion.” The 1st Annual Report (1895), 2nd Annual Report (1896) and 3rd Annual Report (1897) were digitized from volumes in the State Library’s collection. Volume 1 of the Colonial Muster Rolls for 1664-1760 can be found in Appendix H of the 2nd Annual Report. Volume II of the Colonial Muster Rolls for 1664-1760 can be found in Appendix M of the 3rd Annual Report. An index of names contained in the Colonial Muster Rolls can be found on pages 899-1130 of the 3rd Annual Report.”
      • Champlain and the French in New York: “A short publication by William G. Tyrrell on the history of Samuel De Champlain and the French in New York State.”
      • Contract of Sale of Land Along the Hudson River From the Mahican Indians to Kiliean Van Rensselaer, 6 August 1630:  “This document is a copy of an original parchment copy of the land title that established the Colony of Rensselaerwyck within the province of New Netherland.  It relates to the patroonship plan of colonization, under the auspices of the West India Company, that allowed an investor, called a patroon (lord of manor), to negotiate with natives for a tract upon which he was obligated to settle 50 colonists at his own expense. The patroon was granted complete jurisdictional rights and could hold the land in perpetual fief of inheritance with the right to dispose of colony by last will and testament. Kiliaen van Rensselaer became the first patroon of Rensselaerwyck. The lands in the conveyance comprised much of present Albany and Rensselaer counties of New York State. Peter Minuit, Director General of New Netherland, signed this document along with others on the governing council.  The original document is in Dutch; an English translation by A.J.F. van Laer with revisions by Charles Gehring is included with the original.”
      • Conveyance, 1761, October 1: “This document certifies the conveyance of title to a certain tract of land held by John Klein to John Jones. The tract of land was situated at the time in Albany County, New York, being north of the Mohawk River and between two creeks “called George Creek and Caicharon or Canida Creek.” The land was granted to Klein and others by settlers patent in 1760.”
      • Correspondence of Maria van Rensselaer, 1669-1689:  “This volume was translated and edited by A.J.F. van Laer and published by University of the State of New York in 1935.  Maria van Rensselaer was the wife of Jeremias van Rensselaer.  After her husband’s death, she carried on a regular correspondence with her husband’s youngest brother, Richard van Rensselaer, in regard to the administration of Rensselaerwyck.  The volume also contains correspondence between Maria and her brother, Stephanus van Cortlandt, and other members of the Van Cortlandt family.”
      • Letter to Spencer Phips, 1750 December 18: “This is a digital copy of a letter that Governor George Clinton wrote to Governor Spencer Phips of Massachusetts proposing that all the colonial governors assemble in Albany for the purpose of meeting with the Six Nations of Indians to attempt to end the influence of the French on the Indians.  The letter was written at Fort George in New York City.”
      • A Letter to the Freemen and Freeholders of the City of New-York: Relating to the Approaching Election of Their Representatives. Wherein the Several Papers That Have Lately Appeared on the Subject of Politicks, Are Briefly Considered: the Conduct of the Authors Exposed, and the Controversy Represented in its True Light: “”The pamphlet was signed “Feb. 10, 1752, A Lover of Liberty.”  It was printed and sold by J. Parker at the New Printing Office Beaver-Street New York in 1752.  Bound with this pamphlet is a second pamphlet, “An Answer to a Pamphlet, Entitled, A Letter to the Freemen and Freeholders Of the City of New-York. Wherein Is Fully Shown, the True Causes Of the Defection Of the Six Nations Of Indians; With Some Historical Collections Never Yet Made Publick.”  This second pamphlet is “By a Contemner [sic] of Licentiousness” and was also printed and sold by J. Parker in New York in 1752.”
      • Orderly Books, 1759-1760, 1762:  “These are the orderly books of Captain Amos Hitchcock’s Connecticut provincial companies during the French and Indian War.  The orderly books are the companies’ official record of all military orders, and include courts martial, disciplinary actions, and promotions.  The volumes also provide a record of troop movements in northern New York and Canada and encampments at Albany, Fort Edward, Lake George, Crown Point, and Fort Ontario.”
      • Papers of Sir William Johnson:  “In his official capacity as Indian agent or military officer, Sir William Johnson corresponded with people from all walks of life. His papers, covering the time period of 1738-1808, form an invaluable source of information on the political, military, social and agricultural history of the period. (As Johnson had died in 1774, the few papers we have for those years relate to matters with which his relatives were connected.) The 14 volume set that has been digitized is the most comprehensive source of printed transcripts from the original manuscripts.”
      • Sir William Johnson and the Indians of New York: “This booklet was published by the Office of State History, New York State Education Department, in 1967. The foreward notes that “There is a vast literature dealing with Indian and white relations, but little of it is readily and easily accessible to teachers, students, and general readers. To bring together the main points of this exciting and vivid history, Dr. Milton W. Hamilton has written this booklet on Sir William Johnson and the Indians. As trader, Indian agent, soldier, and Superintendent of Indian Affairs, Johnson was a key figure in the Indian story. He is as important for his great work during the momentous events of the 18th century as for his ability to understand the Indians and to work well with them … To tell this significant story of Johnson and the Indians, Dr. Hamilton drew extensively on the 13 volumes of the Sir William Johnson Papers.””
      • Patent for the Manor of Rensselaerwyck: “This is a copy of the original manuscript, from November 5, 1685.  This document confirmed the right of the former Dutch colony known as Rensselaerwyck to continue its existence under the suzerainty of the British Crown. The boundaries were clearly defined and included all of the lands originally granted to Rensselaerwyck in 1630 as a colony under the jurisdiction of New Netherland, with the exception of lands reserved for the settlement called Albany and special right away connecting said settlement on the Hudson River to the Mohawk River.  Many of the feudal rights and privileges of the Patroon were reconfirmed too, excepting the legislative and judicial powers held under Dutch authority. The document was signed and sealed by Thomas Dongan, Governor of the Colony of New York.”
      • A Set of Plans and Forts in America, Reduced From Actual Survey: “This volume was published in 1763 in London.  The author is John Rocque. The volume consists of 30 maps of forts in America, such as Fort William Henry and the Redoubts at Crown Point.  The volume also includes a “Map of the British Dominions in North America according to the Treaty of 1763.” “

      Maps

       

    • History–Towns and Counties

Use the side bar search menu to search these digital collections.

“Forty-one county and town histories selected from the State Library’s collection have been digitized, including:

      • Gazetteer of the State of New York…by J.H. French (1860): Also known as French’s Gazetteer, this one-volume work contains information on the geography, geology, institutions and general history of New York State. It also contains a history and description of every county, city, town, village and locality in NYS and includes founding dates, leading institutions, early settlements, prominent citizens, etc.
      • Albany: Annals of Albany;
      • Corning: Pioneer Days and Later Times In Corning and Vicinity 1789-1920;
      • Dryden: Centennial History of the Town of Dryden 1797-1897;
      • Herkimer County: History of Herkimer County, NY.
      • Schuylerville: Schuylerville, New York, “The Historical Village”;
      • Orange County: Portrait and Biographical Record of Orange County, New York;
      • Stony Point: Stony Point Illustrated, an Account of the Early Settlement on the Hudson with Traditions and Relics of the Revolution
      • Troy and Rensselaer County: Troy and Rensselaer County, New York, a History;”
    • Laws of New York State–In its role as the State Law Library, the New York State Library collects heavily in the area of New York State law. The State Library’s law collection includes early published editions of New State laws; these sets are in the process of being digitized.

      List of NYS Laws with links to the digital documents

    • Native American Materials–The New York State Library holds a wealth of first hand descriptions of the Native American experience in New York. These resources span four centuries, beginning with the Dutch colony of New Netherland and continuing to the close of the American frontier in western New York and beyond. Original manuscripts, New York State Documents and published accounts provide windows upon Native American life and serve as lenses through which cultural and historical interpretations can be made.List of Native American materials with links to the digital documents
    • New York State Constitutional History: Constitutional Conventions–The State Library’s collection includes the official published materials produced by the New York State’s Constitutional Conventions and Commissions, as well as many related publications. The State Library is in the process of digitizing the official published materials produced by the State Constitutional Conventions, including journals, documents and proceedings.

      List of NYS Constitutional Conventions with links to the digital documents.

    • New York State Government–The New York State Library has a robust collection of resources on New York State government that spans from the beginning of statehood through to the current day. Selected materials on this topic, such as the New York State Redbook, have been digitized from print volumes in the New York State Library’s collection.List of New York State Government materials with links to the digital documents.
    • New York State Museum Publications –The New York State Museum can trace its beginning back to 1836 with the appointment of staff for the State’s first official Geological and Natural History Survey.  Since that point, Museum research scientists and staff have conducted “systematic investigations into the geology, biology, anthropology and history of New York” and produced a wealth of publications that detail the results of their work. Some of these publications, such as the Bulletin of the New York State MuseumMemoir of the New York State Museum and Natural History of New York, have been digitized by the NYSL.

      List of Museum publications with links to the digital documents.

 

 

  • New York State Documents Collection

    • Most New York State documents in our collection are listed in our online catalog. If there is a digital version of the document, the catalog record will link to it.If a basic keyword search on the Library’s online catalog is returning too many irrelevant results, try narrowing your search by using the POWER SEARCH option to limit your search to NYS documents and/or electronic documents.
      • Click on POWER SEARCH (see Power Search screenshot).
      • Enter your search word(s).
      • In the lower-right section of the screen, under Search Limits, click on the Location field (see Location screenshot) and select:
        • ONLINE to search only digital documents. (This will include any items in our collections that are available online, not just State documents.)
        • D-NYS-DOC to search only New York State Documents. (This will include all NYS documents, whether they are in a digital or print format).
  • Annotated List and Indexes of Reports of New York State Governors’ Committees and Task Forces, 1925-1985  / by Robert Allan Carter. Albany, N.Y. : University of the State of New York, New York State Library, Cultural Education Center, [1986]. “This bibliography was compiled by Robert Allan Carter, a State Library reference librarian, and lists the reports of governors’ committees and task forces in chronological order from March 1925 through August 1985.  The bibliography includes indexes to the documents by keyword, subject and chairperson.”
  • Annotated List and Indexes of the New York State Legislative Document Series, 1919-1976 / by Robert Allan Carter.  Albany, N.Y. : University of the State of New York, State Education Dept., New York State Library, Legislative and Governmental Services, [1986].  7 volume set. “This guide was compiled by Robert Allan Carter, a State Library reference librarian, and provides a list, by date, of the documents contained in the legislative document series for 1919-1976.  This guide also provides indexes to the documents by subject, keyword in title, name of chairperson, geographical names, etc.”
  • The Annotated Lists and Indexes of the New York State Assembly and Senate Document Series, 1831-1918 / by Robert Allan Carter.  Albany, N.Y. : University of the State of New York, State Education Dept., New York State Library, Legislative and Governmental Services, 1992.  3 volume set. “This guide was compiled by Robert Allan Carter, a State Library reference librarian, and provides a list, by date, of the documents contained in the Assembly and Senate document series for 1831-1918.  This guide also provides indexes to Senate and Assembly documents by subject, keyword in titles, name of chairperson, geographical names, etc.”
  • Constitutional Developments in New York 1777-1958: A Bibliography of Conventions and Constitutions with Selected References for Constitutional Research / by Ernest Henry Breuer.  Albany: University of the State of New York, State Education Dept., 1958. “This volume was compiled by Ernest Henry Breuer who was the State Law Librarian of the New York State Library at the time. This is an excellent source of information on New York State’s Constitutional Conventions and constitutional development in New York State.”
  • Constitutional Developments in New York 1958-1967: A Temporary Supplement to Constitutional Developments in New York 1777-1958 / by Ernest Henry Breuer. Albany: University of the State of New York, State Education Dept., New York State Library, 1967. “This volume was compiled by Ernest Henry Breuer as a supplement to the bibliography he compiled in 1958 on constitutional development in New York State.”
  • Guide to Sources of Information on Current Legislative, Executive, and Judicial Activities of the States / compiled by Susan Lawrence, Seth Edelman and Richard Freshour. Albany: Legislative Service, New York State Library, 1977. (New York State Library) Miscellaneous Publication No. 2. “This guide was prepared by NYSL staff in 1977 and lists sources of information that are useful in monitoring and answering specific questions on recent state government activities.  Part 1 of the guide cites general reference sources that could be used to find information on state activities.  Part 2 of the guide lists periodicals, bibliographies, indexes, loose-leaf services and organizations by subject – sources that cover state activities on a regular basis.”
  • History of the Insanity Defense in New York State / by Robert Allan Carter.  Albany, N.Y. : Legislative and Governmental Services, New York State Library, [1982]. “This publication was prepared by Robert Allan Carter, a NYSL staff member, in February 1982.  Included with this history is a glossary of terms; the NYS Insanity Defense Statute as of January 1982; material on legislative intent of section 30.05; excerpts from important court decisions in other jurisdictions; and a bibliography of relevant journal articles from 1960 – 1982.”
  • Index of Economic Material in Documents of the States of the United States: New York, 1789-1904 / prepared for the Department of Economics and Sociology of the Carnegie Institution of Washington by Adelaide R. Hasse. Washington: Carnegie Institution of Washington: 1907. “This volume was prepared by Adelaide Hasse and is one of the most comprehensive single-volume records on NYS documents.  This useful guide lists and indexes materials contained in printed reports of NYS administrative officers, NYS legislative committees, special commissions, and governors’ messages from 1789-1904.  The term “economic” was given a broad interpretation in the preparation of this index.  The index itself is an alphabetical arrangement of topics such as “Canals: Individual,” “Commerce: Domestic Trade” and “Street Railways.” “
  • A Legal Definition of Death / by Robert Allan Carter. Albany, N.Y. : Legislative and Governmental Services, New York State Library, [1982]. “This volume was prepared by Robert Allan Carter, a New York State Library reference librarian. Carter researched and prepared this publication in July 1982 and it includes a definition of death in New York State, proposed definitions of death, prominent court decisions in other states and an annotated bibliography.”
  • Legislative Intent in New York State: Materials, Cases and Annotated Bibliography / by Robert Allan Carter.  Albany, N.Y. : Legislative and Governmental Services, New York State Library, [1981]. “This publication written by Robert Allan Carter, a New York State Library staff member, provides information on the legislative intent of statutes and constitutional amendments.  Included is a history of legislative intent in New York State and sources of legislative intent.  The publication also includes an annotated bibliography and seven appendixes with additional cases citing legitimacy of legislative intent, memoranda, committee reports, opinions of administrative agencies, governor approval memoranda and messages, and debates and reports from Constitutional Conventions and cases showing rules of interpretation of statutes.”
  • New York State Census Records, 1790-1925 / compiled by Marilyn Douglas and Melinda Yates. Albany: University of the State of New York, State Education Dept., New York State Library, 1981. New York State Library Bibliography Bulletin No. 88. “This publication, compiled in 1981 by New York State Library staff members Marilyn Douglas and Melinda Yates, contains an inventory of federal and state census manuscripts and microfilm holdings in repositories throughout New York State. A list of the questions asked on federal population schedules (1780-1980) is included on pages 43-46 and a list of the questions asked on state population schedules (1825-1925) is included on pages 48-49.”
  • New York State Constitutional Convention of 1967, April 4-September 26, 1967: A Second Supplement to Constitutional Developments in New York 1777-1958 / by Ernest Henry Breuer. Albany: University of the State of New York, State Education Dept., New York State Library, 1970. “This volume was compiled by Ernest Henry Breuer as the second supplement to the bibliography he compiled in 1958 on constitutional development in New York State.  The purpose of this publication was to list all the official and unofficial material on the 1967 Constitutional Convention from April 3, 1967 to September 26, 1967 and some of the commentaries on the proceedings of the Convention and the failure of the people to adopt the proposed new Constitution.”
  • New York State Documents: an Introductory Manual / written and compiled by Dorothy Butch.  Albany, N.Y. : University of the State of New York, State Education Dept., New York State Library, Cultural Education Center, 1987.  New York State Library Bibliography Bulletin No. 89. “This publication was written and compiled in 1987 by Dorothy Butch, a librarian at the New York State Library, and covers general information sources about NYS government, its various organizations, and legislative, executive and judicial publications.  The compiler identifies what official New York State publications are available, what they may be expected to contain and how they may be acquired and organized.  Because of the great number of works published by NYS government, the compiler was selective both in the agencies listed and publications described.”
  • Nydocs: New York State Document Classification System: the Arrangement of New York State Documents In Libraries / Albany, N.Y. : University of the State of New York, State Education Dept., New York State Library, [1995]. “Classification of the New York State Library’s New York State Documents Collection was begun in 1976 as part of a general reorganization in preparation for the integration and transfer of previously separate collections to the Cultural Education Center.  Since 1977, all New York State documents have been assigned a classification number in this system.”
  • The Official Compilation of Codes, Rules and Regulations of the State of New York and the State Register: Their History and Use / by Robert Allan Carter. Albany, N.Y.: Legislative and Governmental Services, New York State Library, [1984]. “The administrative laws of New York State are compiled in the Official Compilation of Codes, Rules and Regulations of the State of New York (NYCRR).  The NYCRR is a loose-leaf publication containing all rules and regulations adopted by state agencies, miscellaneous boards and authorities and the Judiciary.  Notices of rule making activity with text of proposed new or amended rules and their status in the adoption process appear in the State Register.  Robert Allan Carter, a librarian at the NYSL, provides an informative history and description of both the NYCRR and the State Register and includes sample pages from these publications.”
  • Rent Control: Statutes, Documents, Decisions and Annotated Bibliography / by Robert Allan Carter. Albany, N.Y. : Legislative and Governmental Services, New York State Library, [1982] “Robert Allan Carter, a New York State Library staff member, prepared this publication in 1982.  This publication includes significant NYS rent control legislation from World War II – 1982, with statements of legislative intent; a list of NYS documents pertaining to rent control legislation since World War II; judicial opinions of NYS rent control statutes; judicial opinions of rent control statutes in other jurisdictions; and a bibliography.”

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