Urban Genealogy Handbook (in progress)

The definitive guide to researching the history of buildings and sites in New York City.

The Urban Genealogy Handbook is the result of 25 years of researching buildings in New York City, and 20 years of teaching the Urban Genealogy seminar at New York City’s Municipal Art Society. It includes all the information normally taught in the seminar, and much, much more.

In the Urban Genealogy Handbook, you will learn how to:

  • Understand the system of NYC Building Department documents
  • Read a New Building application
  • Use the New Building and Alteration docket books and indexes
  • Use the New York City Register’s conveyance index books and read conveyance records (“deeds”)
  • Use early 19th century tax records to track down buildings that pre-date the city’s Buildings Department
  • Access on-line resources
  • Find basic information on the architect of your building
  • Learn how to do more advanced research on architects
  • Find lists of tenants of your building from decades ago
  • Find apartment house prospectuses
  • Search on-line versions of major metropolitan newspapers
  • Find your way around the New York Public Library’s many collections
  • Locate historic photographs of your building

Special features:

  • Comprehensive listings of research resources, including addresses, phone numbers, web sites, hours of operation, and major holdings
  • Check-lists and forms for organizing your material
  • Specific instructions for accessing the complete texts and photographs of National Register nominations in New York State
  • Bibliography of New York City research sources, including city guidebooks from all periods


Urban Genealogy
An Introduction to Online Research

Urban Genealogy Course