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Research Assistance

Where do I find naturalization records?

The State Archives has created a naturalization pathfinder to help researchers determine where to locate records of New Yorkers' naturalizations from 1664 to the modern day. Naturalization records are created pursuant to the U.S. Constitution and federal law. If a naturalization proceeding occurred in a state court in New York, the resulting records are in custody of the county clerk's office in the county where the proceeding occurred.

Where do I find information about a prison inmate?

The New York State Archives holds numerous records relating to inmates of New York State correctional facilities (prisons and reformatories). For information about prison records in the Archives, consult the Guide to Records of the Department of Correctional Services in the New York State Archives or search the Archives' online catalog. The prison records in the Archives are far from complete, and few of the records are indexed.

How do I find wills in New York State?

The State Archives has created a probate pathfinder to help researchers determine where to locate New Yorkers' probate records, which include wills, estate inventories, and letters of administration relating to deceased persons' estates.  In addition, the State Archives publication on probate records provides a concise explanation of the records in the State Archives which pre-date 1787, their location and how to access them.

How can I find information on a missing person?

Every year the State Archives receives dozens of requests, such as the one above, for "the file" on someone. The good news is that the State of New York does not keep "files" on all of its citizens; thus there are none in the Archives. Searchers can try many "person finders" on the internet such as Switchboard or WhoWhere. Also a private investigator, licensed by the Department of State, can be hired.

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