Urban Genealogy course

Urban Genealogy: An Introduction to Researching Buildings in New York City – Next seminar: February 2016 at the Municipal Art Society.

• Four evening lectures, plus one weekday morning field trip

Learn how to unearth detailed information about New York City buildings. The four evening sessions include:

  • The Building – an introduction to the records of the Department of Buildings
  • The Client – weaving your way through deeds, directories, obituaries, Who’s Who, and local histories
  • The Architect – using standard texts, guidebooks, periodicals, the Avery Index, and Committee for the Preservation of Architectural Records publications
  • Miscellaneous Sources – using photograph collections, maps, New York City archives, libraries and historical society

The field trip takes us to the Manhattan Department of Buildings, the New York County Register’s Office to see conveyance records, the Municipal Archives to see Building Department docket books and early tax records, and the Municipal Reference Library.

I’ve offered this annual seminar at the Municipal Art Society for close to thirty years. Participants have included devoted New Yorkers of every kind: homeowners, architects, engineers, librarians, historic preservation advocates, archivists, Landmarks commissioners, and even a New York City detective. Several have gone on to write books using the skills learned in the seminar. One has become the expert on the architects who designed her apartment building, as described in a New York Times article


Resources for the course