Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Genealogy Basics Research Guide: NYC Jewish Genealogy

New York City Jewish Genealogical Organizations

New York City Jewish Genealogical Resources
 

CENTER FOR JEWISH HISTORY (CJH)

15 West 16th Street
New York, NY 10011

Hours of Operation
Sunday, 11am - 4pm
Monday, 9:30am - 7:30pm
Tuesday - Thursday, 9:30am - 5:30pm
Friday, 9:30am - 1:30pm

The Center for Jewish History is a cultural institution, independent research facility and destination for the exploration of Jewish history and heritage. It is home to five partner organizations:

There are two public areas at the CJH where visitors have access to the resources of the Centers’ collections:

 

ACKMAN & ZIFF FAMILY GENEALOGY INSTITUTE  

917-606-8217
gi@cjh.org

The Institute provides a wealth of genealogical resources through an extensive reference collection that includes:

  • Books, periodicals, and maps.
  •  “Trace Your Roots” Research Guides, ranging from “how to” guides for the beginner, to advanced guides for the seasoned researcher.
  • Access to genealogy-related databases available through public computer terminals.
  • Access to more than 2,000 microfilms and microfiches on long-term loan from the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, which is operated by FamilySearch, the genealogical arm of the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church). These films contain vital records from Jewish communities worldwide, with a focus on Central and Eastern Europe.       
  • NOTE:  If you would like to use any of the over 2.4 million rolls of microfilmed international genealogical records from the Family History Library that are not currently on loan to the CJH, you may order them to be viewed on the microfilm readers at the CJH. 

Genealogy librarians and volunteers are available six days a week to assist patrons with their family history research.

 

LILLIAN GOLDMAN READING ROOM

212-294-8301 ext. 5101
inquiries@cjh.org

Access to the Partners’ collections is provided in the Reading Room. In addition, the Reading Room features:

  • An open-stack collection of reference books on Jewish history and culture.
  • All major publications of the CJH partners.
  • An extensive electronic resource library that is available through public computer terminals.

Collections at the CJH may be searched from your home computer.

 

AMERICAN JEWISH JOINT DISTRIBUTION COMMITTEE ARCHIVES

711 Third Avenue
New York, NY 10017
212-687-6200
info@jdc.org

Hours of Operation:
Monday – Friday, 9:00 am – 4:30 pm
Visits are by application only.

JDC Archives is a repository for the records of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, an American organization that has brought aid to individuals and communities in need in over 90 countries. These records, dating back to 1914, document the programs and activities of JDC. Government records and official documentation, such as birth certificates, are not part of  the collections.

The Archives FAQ page offers a good description of how the information they can provide might be relevant to family history and genealogy research.

 

JEWISH GENEALOGICAL SOCIETY (JGS)        

PO Box 631
New York, NY 10113-0631
212-294-8318 (Note:  The office is not staffed, so a response to a message could take several days.)
info@jgsny.org

The JGS offers several resources for genealogical research, including:

  • Innovative programming and seminars, including monthly meetings with guest lecturers from a variety of disciplines.
  • The JGS Event Calendar.
  • Dorot, a quarterly newsletter of the Society that contains information about upcoming and past meetings, book reviews, feature articles on genealogical research, short articles and summaries of pertinent items from various repositories and other organizations, and other sources that may be of interest to members and researchers.
  • The JGS website, which offers databases for New York area cemeteries, landsmanshaftn and burial societies, naturalization records, genealogical repositories, and Russian Jewish soldiers, partisans and workers killed in action during the Nazi era.

Although the JGS is not technically a part of the Center for Jewish History, it is based at the CJH.  It holds its monthly meetings at the CJH and its library has been incorporated into the Ackman & Ziff Family Genealogy Institute’s reference collection.

 

THE JEWISH THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY (JTS)            

3080 Broadway
New York, NY 10027
212-678-8000
archives@jtsa.edu 

Hours vary seasonally.  Please see current hours.

The Jewish Theological Seminary of America is a preeminent institution of Jewish higher education that integrates rigorous academic scholarship and teaching with a commitment to strengthening Jewish tradition, lives, and communities.  

In terms of genealogical research, the archives of the Joseph and Miriam Ratner Center for the Study of Conservative Judaism contain the historical records of two hundred Conservative synagogues and rabbis from around the country, dating from the early nineteenth century to the present.  Included are eight synagogues from New York City.  In addition, the JTS archives contain international Jewish community records (including pinkasim and mohel books) and one of the most extensive collections of ketubot in the world.

 

NATIONAL ARCHIVES AND RECORDS ADMINISTRATION (NARA)

One Bowling Green, 3rd Floor
New York, NY 10004
1-866-840-1752 or 212-401-1620
newyork.archives@nara.gov

Hours of Operation
Monday - Friday, 10:00 am - 5:00 pm
Saturday, once each month, 10:00 am - 4:00 pm (see NARA website for Saturday dates)

The National Archives at New York City maintains the historically significant records of Federal agencies and courts in New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands dating from 1685 to the present. The staff at NARA is very helpful.

Records that can be obtained at the New York City branch include:

  • Federal Censuses for every state
  • Local military and draft records
  • Naturalizations
  • Passenger lists
  • Alien registration

Before visiting the NARA New York City branch in person, NARA suggests you visit their “Plan Your Visit” page on their website. In addition, NARA has a web page for genealogy beginners.

 

THE NEW YORK CITY FAMILY HISTORY CENTER (FHC) of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints

125 Columbus Ave, 1st Floor
New York, NY 10023
212-799-2414
ny_newyorkcity@ldsmail.net

Hours of Operation:
Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, 12:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Friday, 12:00 pm - 6:00 pm
Saturday, 10:00 am - 5:00 pm

The New York FHC is a small branch of the Salt Lake City Family History Library. Patrons can access approximately 3,000 on-site microfilms and nine family history subscription databases for free. The Center has two microfilm readers, two microfilm/fiche readers/scanners, and three computers available for patrons.  In addition, any microfilm or microfiche in the Family History Library catalog may be ordered to be viewed at this FHC.

NOTE:  The Center for Jewish History has an extensive collection of microfilms on long-term loan from the Family History Library in Salt Lake City.  You may wish to check this collection before ordering films from the FHC.  Please see above “Center for Jewish History” section for more information.  

The locations of other Family History Centers in NYC are also on their website.

 

THE NEW YORK FAMILY HISTORY SCHOOL

The New York Family History School™ (NYFHS) was founded in 2010 jointly by The New York Genealogical and Biographical Society, the Milstein Division of the New York Public Library, and the National Archives in New York City.

The school creates high-quality educational programming that helps with family history research.  Programs are held in a variety of locations in New York City.

 

NEW YORK CITY MUNICIPAL ARCHIVES (Department of Records)

NYC Department of Records
31 Chambers Street, Room 103
New York, N.Y. 10007
Phone: 311 or (212) 639-9675 (outside NYC)

To contact the Municipal Archives by E-mail, click here.  

Hours of Operation:
Monday to Thursday, 9:00 am to 4:30 pm;
Friday, 9:00 am to 1:00 pm

The New York City Municipal Archives (Department of Records) maintains original records of births reported in the five Boroughs of New York City prior to 1910; marriages reported prior to 1938; and deaths reported prior to 1949.* You may view them in person or order them online or by mail using these forms and instructions For birth records after 1909 and death records after 1948, contact the NYC Department of Health

* Specific date ranges can be found on the Municipal Archives website. 

Finally, the Municipal Archives houses many other historical government records, including manuscripts, official correspondence, ledgers, moving images, photographs, sound recordings, maps, and architectural plans, and the website contains a list of the collections

 

NEW YORK GENEALOGICAL AND BIOGRAPHICAL SOCIETY (NYG&B)       

212-755-8532

The NYG&B is the second oldest genealogical society in the United States.  In 2008, the NYG&B closed its extensive research library and transferred its contents to the NY Public Library.  The Society has an online research portal (available to members only) containing a variety of research guides and electronic resources.  It also publishes two quarterly journals, The Record and The New York Researcher.

 

NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY:

DOROT JEWISH DIVISION                               

Stephen A. Schwarzman Building
Fifth Avenue at 42nd Street
First Floor, Room 111
New York, NY 10018
212-930-0601

Hours of Operation:
Monday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, 10:00 am - 5:45 pm
Tuesday and Wednesday, 10:00 am - 7:45 pm

The Dorot Jewish Division is responsible for administering, developing and promoting one of the world’s great collections of Hebraica and Judaica. Reference and research services are available in a dedicated Jewish studies reading room.

 

IRMA AND PAUL MILSTEIN DIVISION OF US HISTORY, LOCAL HISTORY & GENEALOGY             

Stephen A. Schwarzman Building
Fifth Avenue at 42nd Street
First Floor, Room 121
New York, NY 10018
212- 930-0828

Hours of Operation:
Monday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, 10:00 am - 5:45 pm
Tuesday and Wednesday, 10:00 am - 7:45 pm

The Milstein Division collects materials documenting American History on the national, state and local levels, genealogy, heraldry, personal and family names, and flags. It houses one of the largest genealogical collections freely open to the public. A comprehensive explanation of genealogy resources available in the Milstein Division can be found on the website. 

The Milstein Division Microform Room (Rm. 119) facilitates self-service access to many important microform genealogical resources, including New York State census records, New York City householders directories, New York City vital record indexes, historical newspapers, naturalization records and military sources, among many others.

 

THE SYNAGOGUES OF NEW YORK CITY

The internet-only Museum of Family History provides a list of the names and addresses of hundreds of synagogues that once existed in Manhattan.  While in NYC, a visit to the locations of some of these synagogues might provide interesting details about the neighborhoods in which your ancestors lived.

 

OTHER NEW YORK GENEALOGICAL RESOURCES:                               

The book Genealogical Resources in New York, (2003) by Estelle Guzik, is a comprehensive guide to genealogical and biographical resources in New York City and Albany. 

 

 

A Step-by-Step Guide (from the Center for Jewish History)

  1. Interview your relatives. First conduct interviews, asking elderly relatives for stories and information about their families and their childhoods. Take notes while you record the interviews on audiotape or videotape. Listen to the interviews again or create transcripts, writing down relevant information. Interview anyone who might be helpful—not just grandparents and parents, but collateral relatives like aunts, uncles, and cousins. The Center for Jewish History’s Ackman & Ziff Family Genealogy Institute has a how-to guide on interviewing your relatives.

  2. Gather documents. Ask your relatives if they have any documents, such as citizenship papers, marriage licenses, or birth and death certificates, that may contain further clues. Ask about other kinds of artifacts that may have been handed down across the generations: photographs, prayer books, wedding invitations, birth announcements, school report cards, diplomas, military discharge papers, etc. [NOTE: Take care to preserve valuable documents in archival-quality, acid-free paper or plastic!]

  3. Organize your information. Begin making a family tree using standardized forms (you may download and print this form) or genealogy software on your computer. Remember to record the source of each piece of information you find.

  4. Orient yourself to the research process. Read the Genealogy Institute’s research guides. For more in-depth explanations, consult the reference books in the Genealogy Institute collection.

  5. Search online databases for U.S. records*:
  • Vital records (birth, marriage, and death certificates)
  • Federal and State census returns
  • Naturalization papers (declarations of intention, petitions, certificates)
  • Passenger arrival records
  • New York Times and other online newspaper indexes (articles and obituaries)
  • Social Security Death Index
  • Cemetery records
  • City directories (residential and business directories)
  • Military records (draft registration cards, enlistment records)

* Many U.S. records can be located on free websites, such as FamilySearch.org and GermanRoots.com, and paid subscription databases, such as Ancestry.com and Fold3 [both databases can be accessed for free on-site at the Center for Jewish History]. For further guidance in locating U.S. records, please consult the Genealogy Institute’s United States research guide.

  1. Write to or visit U.S. repositories to obtain materials not available online. These include: government archives, vital records offices, courts, and other agencies, such as the Social Security Administration; public libraries; and private libraries and archives, such as the Center for Jewish History.

  2. Visit U.S. cemeteries where family members are buried. Photograph their gravestones and translate any Hebrew or Yiddish inscriptions.

  3. Identify your family’s ancestral towns. For more information about the types of documents that may reveal an ancestor’s town of origin, please consult JewishGen's InfoFile on this subject.

  4. Search online databases, microfilm, and print resources for international records*:

* For country-specific guidance on locating international records, please consult the Genealogy Institute’s International Records guides.

  1. Join your local Jewish genealogical society and online special interest group. Join the Jewish Genealogical Society of New York, attend monthly meetings, and network with other family history enthusiasts. If you live outside of the New York metro area, find your local Jewish genealogical society here. Join a JewishGen special interest group based on your family’s geographic region of origin and take advantage of their discussion forums, newsletters, databases, and other research tools.

  2. Collaborate with other genealogists researching the same family names and towns.

 

  1. Document everything. Each step along the way, take time to organize your data and add to your family tree. Always remember to take careful notes and document all your sources!

 

 

Quick Links

Credit

Original source for this page: Center for Jewish History - Courtesy of the Ackman & Ziff Family Genealogy Institute
LibGuide - Genealogy Guide: United States - http://libguides.cjh.org/genealogyguides/us

Library Media Resources Center
LaGuardia Community College
31-10 Thomson Avenue, room E101
Long Island City, NY 11101
Email the Library