National Archives at New York City

Historical Documents

Original records

The National Archives at New York City has more than 100,000 cubic feet of archival holdings dating from 1685 to the 1990s, including textual documents, photographs, maps, and architectural drawings. These archival holdings were created or received by the Federal courts and more than 100 Federal agencies in New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Federal law requires that agencies transfer permanently valuable, noncurrent records to the National Archives.

Subjects of local and regional interest include:

  • The evolution of Federal courts, including Court records that follow the evolution of Federal courts, bankruptcy cases such as that of Dean Martin, copyright infringement cases such as those involving Cole Porter, War of 1812 and Civil War Prize cases for New York, criminal cases such as the Julius and Ethel Rosenberg case, and other civil cases.

  • Federal population censuses for all States, 1790-1930

  • Immigration through Castle Garden and Ellis Island

  • Chinese Exclusion Act enforcement during the early 20th century

  • Records documenting the commerce and maritime activities of New York ports and ships including the Titanic, and the Lusitania

  • Invention records of Samuel Colt, Charles Goodyear, Alexander Graham Bell, Thomas Alva Edison

  • Court records relating to organized crime, the arts, censorship
Historic names in the files include:
  • Alexander Hamilton, Aaron Burr,Susan B. Anthony, Emma Goldman, Marcus Garvey, Adam Clayton Powell, Dutch Schultz, Jimmy Hoffa, and Alger Hiss.

Finding records

In order to find records, researchers need to know which government entity created records pertaining to their subjects. Records from each agency, bureau, or court are assigned a record group number (abbreviated as "RG"), and are arranged within that record group. Learn how to begin doing research at NARA facilities or get started at the New York facility. Selected finding aids are available by mail and online. Research can be initiated in person, or by telephone, mail, fax or e-mail at Note: Individuals who wish to use archival holdings on-site must call before visiting, to ensure the records are available for on-site research.

Researchers are encouraged to contact us at (212) 401-1620 or toll-free at 1-866-840-1752 or by e-mail at before visiting in order to facilitate their research.

National Records on Microfilm

In addition to unique original records, the New York facility has extensive holdings of National Archives microfilm publications. These publications reproduce basic documentation for the study of history, economics, public administration, political science, law, ethnology, genealogy, and other subjects.

Subjects include:
  • Selected military service records and indexes
  • Selected pension and bayoneted warrant applications
  • World Wars I and II, including concentration camp records

A 90 minute limit is imposed at self-service microfilm readers when researchers are waiting. Researchers using microfilm do not need a researcher ID card.

Researchers can also search for Microfilm Publications via NARA's online Microfilm Catalog to determine if a roll list or descriptive pamphlet is available.

Rules for Using Records

  • Bring photo identification (e.g. driver's license) to be issued a researcher's card
    • Valid for 1 year and renewable
    • Cannot be issued in advance of your visit

  • Prepare to leave personal belongings in convenient lockers

  • Laptop computers are allowed

  • For a fee, the staff will make or arrange for copies of records, including certified copies for legal use

  • 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 ID cards are not needed to use microfilm collections