I learned a lot venturing into the New York State Library and Archives today. It must be 20 years since my last trip. I remember looking through census records that weren't available in many other places. The internet was young. Here are my tips:
- They are open on Saturday! I didn't have quit my job just to visit.
- Parking is convenient and only $5, and free after 2 pm if you were nearby and just wanted to drop in.
- The library on the 7th floor caters to genealogists (see photo.)
- The museum is in the same building, so you might be able to bring the family.
- The archives on the 11th floor has lockers to store your stuff, because you are only allowed in with pencil and paper (and cell phone camera)
- The readers for the Vital Records microfiche on the 11th floor come in two varieties: good and bad. Don't get stuck with the little machine that doesn't focus!
- Pop your order form for Vital Rercord orders right into the box there (they have the blank forms too), and reduce the wait time. (They will loan you a pen to sign the $22 check to the New York State Dept. of Health)
- Records that they allowed Ancestry to scan are available by link from their web site, and free to New York residents to search. And all you have to do to prove you are a New York resident is enter a zip code.
- Requesting documents from the paper archive requires waiting an hour or so, but then you can browse your box at will. No gatekeepers to supervise your fingers on every document, unlike some archives.