The National Archives at New York City

Genealogy: How To Use the Archives


Getting Started

Come on in and start your research by searching our databases or using our microfilm. Research is self-guided and we encourage you to do as much preliminary work as you can (online research, reading about the different types of records and how to find them); see our section For Beginners for more information.

Staff is on hand during all business hours to assist whenever possible. We also have several excellent volunteers who work in the research rooms on certain days.

  • No appointment is needed
  • If the records you wish to research are not clearly indicated in our list of Resources Available to You, we advise that you call us at (212) 401-1620, or toll-free at 1-866-840-1752 before visiting to ensure that records are available.
  • Sign our registration sheet upon arrival, and indicate whether you plan to use a microfilm reader or public access computer
  • Use only one roll of microfilm at a time
  • Cell phones must be turned off in the research room
  • Eating, drinking, and smoking are not allowed in the research room
  • Children under the age of 14 must be accompanied by an adult

Researcher Identification Card

When you come to the National Archives - New York regional office to look at original records, you must obtain a researcher identification card. The card is not necessary if your research is confined to computer and microfilm.

To obtain a researcher identification card, an applicant must
  • show official identification that includes a photograph. A driver's license, passport, school, and employment identification are among the acceptable IDs.
  • show proof of address. In cases where the address on the photo ID is no longer correct, proof of address from another official source must be provided, such as a voter registration card or motor vehicle registration.
  • complete a short form giving full name, permanent address, telephone number, and a brief description of the proposed research topic.
Your researcher identification card will be valid for one year, and must be presented during each research visit if you plan to view original records.

For Beginners

Resources at the National Archives - New York

Resources at the National Archives nationwide

Self-Service Equipment

The following self-service equipment is available to aid your research:

  • 9 Internet access computers linked to 2 printers (printing from the public access computers is free)
  • 2 stand-alone computer terminals with access to genealogy databases and CD-ROMs
  • About 20 microfilm readers
  • 3 microfilm reader/printers
    • Self-service microfilm copies are $.50 per page
    • If you require certified copies of microfilm records, you must ask staff for assistance. There is an additional $15 fee per certification.
  • 2 paper photocopy machines

Reproductions

  • Self-service copies of paper records are $.20 per page
  • Paper copies made by National Archives staff are $.75 per page. Please note that if you require a certified copy of a record, staff must make the copies.
  • We can certify copies of records at a cost of $15 per certification, in addition to copying costs at $.75 per page for paper records.
  • Copies of microfilm can be made at self-service copiers at $.50 per page. If you require certified copies of microfilm records, you must ask staff for assistance. There is an additional $15 fee per certification.
  • In some cases, the age or physical condition of documents may not allow reproduction. You are welcome to bring cameras or portable scanners.

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