Research: Local History

Local Records on Microfilm in the New York State Archives

The New York State Archives maintains microfilm copies of selected local government records. Many of the records were filmed during the period from 1974 to 1976 by the Office of State History as a project of the New York State American Revolution Bicentennial Commission. The 250 reels of microfilm produced by the project were given to the State Archives in 1976. These records date from 1650 to 1975, with the bulk in the 1800-1850 era and only a few after 1900. The geographical coverage of the records is uneven; extensive film copies were made for some counties, but few or none for others. Most are public records, especially those of towns. The nonpublic materials microfilmed include church registers and minutes, store ledgers, business and commercial records, and records from private educational institutions.

In addition to the microfilm produced by the Bicentennial Commission project, the Archives holds some film obtained from other sources, including Local Government Records Management Improvement Fund (LGRMIF) grants. Local governments participating in LGRMIF microfilm projects send copies of the following series to the State Archives:

  • governing board minutes and annual budgets
  • census records, cemetery maps, plots plans, and surveys
  • pre-centralization school district records
  • government establishment and reorganization records
  • warrant copy of tax rolls
  • official maps, updates, plans, diagrams, surveys, and engineering and survey notes
  • zoning maps; police blotters; records created before 1870

You can search Excelsior, the online catalog of the New York State Archives and State Library,  for the Archives' holdings of local government microfilm records. Searching on the term "local government records" will pull up the entire list of public records. Other terms to search on include the name of the county, municipal government, and type of record. Non-public records are not indicated in Excelsior but can be seen in the printed version of the guide. Visit the Guides to Historical Records section of the Publications area to obtain a PDF or print copy of this publication.

The microfilm is available for use in the State Archives, and through the New York State Inter-Library Loan network. Copies of the film may also be purchased from the New York State Archives, Cultural Education Center, Albany, NY 12230. For more information on how to obtain microfilm, contact New York State Archives Researcher Services via e-mail at archref@mail.nysed.gov or call (518) 474-8955.