Free NYC Vital Records

immigrantsI don’t usually discuss genealogy databases on That’s because they are a fee based service and that means that not everyone would be able to see those records. Ancestry does have some free databases but they are not easy to find.

Ancestry recently added indexes to approx. 10 million vital records for New York City (1862 – 1948). These records came from the New York City Department of Records – Municipal Archives. As part of the agreement with the City, Ancestry had to make the records available for free. Start at this New York page and scroll to the bottom and search the births, marriages and deaths separately. There are approx. 800 thousand  birth records (1878 – 1909), 5 million marriages (1866 – 1937) and 4.7 million death records (1862 – 1948). If you find a person in the index that you want to order the certificate for, then Ancestry includes a link to NYC Archives webpage where you can order a copy of the certificate for $15.

A majority of immigrants to the US came through New York City. Some families would settled in New York City for generations. Other families would remain in NYC for a short time before moving on to other parts of the US. That’s why you should especially check for immigrant families in the NYC records.

It is important to note that before January 1898 New York City only included the Borough of Manhattan (NY County). The other four Boroughs (Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn & Staten Island) will not be included in these records before 1898.


Top Songs of 1964; #3

iwantoholdyourhandThis is the start of the British Invasion. “I Want to Hold Your Hand” has hit the top of the record charts. The Beatles had a hit in Britain in November 1963 with “She Loves You” but that wasn’t their first hit in the US. The Beatles wouldn’t be on the Ed Sullivan Show for another month but all the disk-jockeys were playing all the Beatles songs that they could get. The Beatles became such a big hit that other British groups would find it easy to “cross the pond.” It would also signal the end of many traditional music artists that feel out of popularity.

I Want to Hold Your Hand” would stay on the top of the Billboard Hot 100 record chart for 7 weeks (Jan. 26 – March 14) only to be knocked out of the top spot by another Beatles song. The song was also be the number one song on the Cash Box chart for 8 weeks (Jan. 19 – March 14).

The Beatles have an Official website that also includes a link to download songs from iTunes. (Beatles songs can not be downloaded from Amazon.)

Rochester – Convention City – 1912

convention-city-1912The Rochester Public Library recently added a booklet to their online digital collection titled Rochester, N. Y.; The Convention City. It was published in 1912 by the Rochester Chamber of Commerce. It was an early attempt to get organizations to bring their conventions to Rochester for their meetings. Rochester already had a Convention Hall on Washington Square Park (now GEVA theatre) so it was a natural for the C. of C. to try to get organizations to come to Rochester.

The booklet extolls the points of interest to the city. It also tells how easy it is to get to and get around Rochester. The booklet includes these facts about Rochester in 1912:

  • Population: 225,000
  • Bank Clearances 1911: $223,546,084
  • Assessed Valuation 1911: $175,500,932
  • Hotels: 57
  • Hospitals: 9
  • Value of woodworking output: over $6,000,000 annually
  • Leather and leather manufactured goods: $8,000,000 annually
  • High grade men;s clothing: over $32,000,000 annually
  • Boot and shoe output: over $18,000,000 annually
  • Mean altitude above the sea level: 510 feet
  • Over 149 miles of trolley roads within the city limits.
  • Largest thermometer plant in the world.
  • Largest optical works in the world.
  • Largest manufactory of photographic supplies and apparatus in the world/


Apple Mac – 1984 Commercial

On this day (jan. 24th) 30 years ago Apple unveiled the Mac. The computer only had 128kb of RAM memory. It also had a 9-inch, 512×342 pixel monochrome monitor. It did included MacWrite and MacPaint software. The Mac was personally demonstrated by Steve Jobs.

Two days before the introduction of the Mac during the Super Bowl the commercial, below, aired during the 3rd quarter. It was the only time that the commercial aired.

1874 Atlas of Ontario County

1874-ontarioThe Rochester Public Library recently added the 1874 Atlas of Ontario Co., NY to their collection of digitized books. This atlas is in PDF format. I like the PDF format because you can make a PDF as large as you want. This atlas is one that shows where homes of people are located. Also the maps show schoolhouses, churches and cemeteries.

This atlas is too early to find any of my relatives. They moved to Ontario County much later. How about you? Do you have any relatives that lived in Ontario County in 1974?

Early Rochester Family Records

Anah (Babcock) Yates

Anah (Babcock) Yates

I have uploaded the first of a set of web pages of genealogies for some early Rochester area families. I named it page 41 of biographies but it really is family genealogies. The records came from a newspaper column called “Early Rochester Family Records” but it included early families from all over the region. The column ran in the Rochester Post-Express from July 9, 1910 to Apr. 13, 1912. This first web page only includes columns from the first few months. I will prepare the rest of the series over the next 6 months (or so). Some of the family genealogies go back to an immigrant ancestor in the 1600s.

The author of the newspaper column was Anah (Babcock) Yates. She was born in Millport, NY and came to Rochester at an early age. In 1890 she was married to Frederick W. Yates. Mrs. Yates was active in many charitable and philanthropic enterprises.

Mrs. Yates was one of the founders of the Rochester Historical Society. She was also an active member of the Daughters of the American Revolution. She also was state genealogist of the New York Historical Society for many years. I have been interested in her genealogy works for many years. Her cemetery transcription include many inscriptions that are no longer readable. A lot of her cemetery records were later placed in the collections of the DAR.

Mrs. Yates died at her home on East Avenue in Rochester August 9, 1932. She was buried in Mt. Hope Cemetery.

NY Central Station – 1914

ny-cen-rr-1I missed this by a few days.

On Jan. 19th 1914 at 12:01 a.m. Rochester opened a great new railroad station. The station of the NY Central Railroad was designed by Claude Bragdon, who also designed many other buildings in Rochester. Bragdon thought that the building was one of his best works and it is often referred to as his masterpiece.

The exterior  of the building was of brown stone and purple colored bricks. The rounded windows in the center were to look similar to locomotive wheels. They also allowed great amounts of natural sunlight to enter the building.

The waiting room (see below) was 187 x 116 feet and had a 90 foot vaulted ceiling. It had enough seating for 500 people. The lower walls and sides of staircases were tiled.

Not only was there a beautiful new building but the railroad yard was also increased in size. It former only had room for 95 cars but was increased to a capacity of 225 cars. The railroad platforms were also increased to an average length of 1,200 feet.

Decline in the number of railroad passengers and lack of maintenance of the building led to the end of this grand building. Demolition began with part of the building in 1965. The last part of the building was torn down in 1978. It was replaced by a much smaller building that was only supposed to be temporary. After all these year it is finally going to be replaced by a building that looks similar to the center part of Bragdon’s station (see this web page).

Waiting room - before the station opened

Waiting room – before the station opened

Interior view of the main entrance

Interior view of the main entrance


Place Names of Monroe County

place-namesA new online book from the Rochester Public Library describes all kinds of place names in Monroe County.  On the Origins of the Names of  Places in Monroe County, New York  give the origin of Town names, post offices, railroad stations and other places like neighborhoods. It also gives the origins of creeks and major ponds. The author, Rear Admiral Franklin Hanford, did a great good in putting together the origins of place names from many sources.

I live in the Barnard neighborhood in Greece but never knew it was named for Thomas Barnard and his son, Charles. Then there is Golah in the Town of Rush that was made up from letters in the surnames of the families that lived there.

This online book was originally published in 1911. The same text was published later in the publications from the Rochester Historical Society.

50 Hidden Gems

If you don’t have any plans for tonight, there is an interesting talk at the Greece Historical Society meeting. Christopher Carosa50-gems will talk about his new book, “50 Hidden Gems of Greater Western New York.” Mr. Carosa will tell spell-binding stories that will reveal some of the most delicious underexposed treasures of the region in a light-hearted and entertaining manner. The people, places and events that not only helped define Greater Western New York, but have often helped define America as well.

Christopher Carosa is the author of three books, a stage play and more than 400 articles on everything from modern portfolio theory to white cream donuts, but what he enjoys most, is sharing the spell-binding stories of Greater Western New York’s hidden gems with area clubs, societies and organizations.  Autographed copies of his book will be for sale after the program for $26.95 (price includes sales tax.)

The talk is at Greece Town Hall at 7 p.m., tonight (Jan 14). Public welcome. Reservations are not necessary. Greece Historical Society members free. A $2.00 donation is appreciated from others.

Batman TV Series Anniversary

batmantvseriesOn Jan 12, 1966 the Batman TV series premiered on ABC. In this classic series, Adam West was Batman and Burt Ward was Robin. Also in the last year of the series they were joined by Yvonne Craig as Batgirl. The series was an instant hit but it had faded by the third and last season. For the first two season there were 2 half-hour episodes a week with the first episode ending in a cliffhanger (Same Bat – time, Same Bat – Channel). So all together there ended up being 120 episodes being made n total.

Notable in the series was that it had some well known Hollywood stars playing villains.  Here are some of the major villains in the series:

  • Catwoman (Julie Newmar & Eartha Kitt)
  • The Joker (Cesar Romero)
  • The Riddler (Frank Gorshin & John Astin)
  • The Penguin (Burgess Meredith)
  • King Tut (Victor Buono)
  • Egghead (Vincent Price)
  • Shame ( Cliff Robertson)
  • Louie, the Lilac (Milton Berle)

Also, Hollywood stars would show up in supporting rolls, especially in the scenes where Batman and Robin are climbing up the side of a building. You could see Alfred Hitchcock, Jerry Lewis, Edward G. Robinson, Dick Clark, etc. pop their heads out and talk with the Dynamic Duo.

The Batman series is still being shown on TV today. In Rochester it is on Saturdays at 7 p.m. on channel 10.2 (MeTV).

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