Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Tuesday's Tip - Search for New York Ancestors in the New York State Historical Literature Collection

This week's Tuesday's Tip is:  Explore the holdings of the New York State Historical Literature Collection at the Cornell University Library (http://ebooks.library.cornell.edu/n/nys/).

Reader Howard Swain pointed me to this record collection after I posted my finding of the 1785 will of Jonathan Lewis of Richmond County, New York in the probate records of New York County, New York.

There are many more documents and works of historical and genealogical interest than just probate records on this website.  There are "Search" and "Browse" tabs on the home page above.

I clicked on the "Browse" tab and the Browse page (http://ebooks.library.cornell.edu/n/nys/browse/title/a.html) opened to the "Title" list (there are also "Author" and "Region" tabs):

It opened to the list of "A" titles - and right at the top is the list of "Abstracts of wills on file in the Surrogate's Office, City of New York" - 17 volumes, 1665 to 1801.

I knew that Jonathan Lewis will was proved in 1786, so I chose Volume XIII (1784-1786) on the list above, and saw the catalog page for this volume:

There is a Search box at the top of the page, so I entered the terms [ jonathan lewis ] and clicked on the "Go" button:

The search found one match in the body of the text, on page 251 of the document:

The Jonathan Lewis will transcription started at the bottom of page 251 and went into pages 252 and 253.

So I found my item of interest, but only because I knew a death year for Jonathan Lewis.

The more useful page is the "Search" page (http://ebooks.library.cornell.edu/cgi/t/text/text-idx?page=simple&c=nys) for the entire NYSHL collection:

Note that this is the "Basic Search" form - there are also "Boolean," "Proximity," "Bibliographic," and "History" search forms.

I entered  [ jonathan lewis ] in the search field on the screen above and received 11 matches:

The first match is for a Jonathan Lewis named in a Suffolk County, New York will.  Matches 2 through 10 are from the Will Abstracts, including the one in Volume XIII above; the 11th match is for Records of the first church in Huntington, Long Island, 1723-1799.

If a researcher has colonial New York ancestors, this Cornell University Library archive should be on your search list.  Search using names and locations to narrow the search results.

The lesson learned here is that there are many archives with published and digitized information just waiting to be discovered - this is only one example of an archive that contains some transcribed probate records.

Thank you, Howard, for taking the time to help me out with Jonathan Lewis and suggesting this collection for further research.   I have a lot more work to do in this collection!

The URL for this post is:  http://www.geneamusings.com/2015/09/tuesdays-tip-search-for-new-york.html

Copyright (c) 2015, Randall J. Seaver

Please comment on this post on the website by clicking the URL above and then the "Comments" link at the bottom of each post.  Or contact me by email at randy.seaver@gmail.com.

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