New York State Library
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Local Histories

Collection Scope

Local histories are accounts of life and events which relate to small geographic areas such as counties or villages. The State Library strives to be comprehensive in its collection of histories relating to New York State; in addition, the Local History collection includes historical works and records relating to New England, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Materials depict all periods and aspects of New York State history from colonial times to the present day. County, town and village histories provide biographical information on early settlers, prominent citizens, and local war heroes.

For information about locating places in New York State, see Finding Places.

Research Audience

The New York State and Local History collection is of special interest to historians, genealogical researchers, and staffs of the Legislature and State government. Typically, the collection is used to find biographical information on people from New York State and information about the social, political, business, and economic history of the State and its localities.

Research Sources

  • periodicals, retrospective and current
  • publications of state and local historical societies
  • biographical sketches of prominent persons
  • published records of towns and municipalities
  • published papers of prominent citizens
  • church and cemetery records
  • county, city, and town histories
  • city directories and telephone books


Excelsior, the Library's on-line catalog, provides access to this collection through author, title, and subject entries. A list of New York State Counties and Regions with Dewey Decimal Classification Codes is available to facilitate exact subject searches.

Card files provide subject access to articles about New York State history and to biographical information in books and magazines. America: History and Life, an index available in paper copy, on CD-ROM, and as a dial up database, provides access to publications and dissertations covering regional, state and local history.

Last Updated: February 7, 2024