Thursday, April 12, 2018

Spring Finding Family Genealogy Series at NARA (NY)

After ten years of researching my family, I made my first trip to the NYC branch of the National Archives last month for the first part of four in their Spring Finding Family Genealogy series.

The New York branch of NARA is located in the Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House at 1 Bowling Green in lower Manhattan. Donald and I probably walked right by it when we visited Castle Garden two years ago.

This is the view from just past the Custom House. Unfortunately, I only had a camera phone but you can see Castle Garden in the distance and if you look right above the left side of the building you can just make out the Statue of Liberty. I knew this wouldn't be a great photo, but I was at the perfect elevation here to see these landmarks this way.

Back to the reason for my post. D. Joshua Taylor, host of Genealogy Roadshow but more importantly, President of the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society (NYG&B), made the first presentation in this series, "How the NYG&B Can Help You in Your Research."

Joshua Taylor is an excellent speaker. His enthusiasm is infectious and made me want to dig right back into my New York ancestry and find those elusive parents of my 2nd great-grandfather, Benjamin Smith. Although I have promised myself to try to maintain focus on my Kezar line and Donald's Scalise line, for now, I know where I am going first as soon as it is time to turn to my Smiths again - right to the NYG&B website.

The New York Genealogical & Biographical Society will be celebrating 150 years next year and is one of the few older societies that admitted women as members right from the beginning and, as Joshua Taylor pointed out, has always had a focus on the stories of our ancestors as the society's name implies. Although many of the resources available on the NYG&B website are behind a paywall, if you have NY ancestry it looks like it is well worth the membership price of $70 for one year or $125 for two years. There are many really interesting resources and membership benefits including a peer-reviewed quarterly journal with archives online and basic Find My Past membership.

On the train home, I tweeted about my excitement after the meeting and the societies twitter account responded with a link to a blog post from January that they recommended as a good place to start, and I will recommend it as well: Eleven ways to use the NYG&B website to improve your skills and find ancestors.

Another way to see for free what the society has available is this YouTube video which shows viewers around the site.

NYG&B is also part of the group leading the fight against the recent decision by the NYC Health Department to codify restrictions to birth records for 125 years and death records for 75 years. See the NYG&B Facebook page here for a recording of Joshua Taylor's update from yesterday.

I have no affiliation or relationship with the New York Genealogical & Biographical Society, but I will be a member once I turn my attention back to my NY ancestors.

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