Saturday we told you that the NY Genealogical & Biographical Society Library was being given to the NY Public Library. The NYG&B has now issued a public statement giving more about the background and rationale for this decision. Since this news release is not on the G&B website – I am posting it here. NEWS FROM THE NYG&B SOCIETY – July 21, 2008 – Special edition The big question on the minds of NYG&B members for the past several months has been, “Where is the collection going and how soon will it be accessible again?” We are now able to share the good news with you. We are very pleased to announce it will be going to the New York Public Library to be incorporated with the wonderful genealogical and manuscripts collections already housed there. Although the transfer of the collection will take some time—it will take up to two years for the G&B collection to be fully accessible at NYPL—the end result will benefit all genealogists. Our entire collection will be accessible on-line through NYPL’s database. Offering our catalog on-line had been a long-time goal of the G&B, but the resources necessary to carry out this project always seemed beyond reach. Now through our partnership with NYPL, this dream will finally be achieved. Having our catalog available, just a couple clicks away, through the web will be a boon to our out-of-area members who may not have been able to get to our library often, or at all, to discover what resources we had for them. Additionally, our new offices will be in close proximity to the NYPL. Instead of a ride in a very slow elevator, the collection will now be just a short walk away. Several of our long-time staff members, all of whom have an excellent grasp of the collection and its value, will continue with the G&B, sharing their knowledge and experience with our membership. We are committed to our extraordinary collection of books, manuscripts, microfilm, microfiche, maps, etc., and will continue to accept pertinent donations, so please remember the NYG&B when you want to make your unique research available to the wider genealogical community. Our partnership with NYPL does not end with the transfer of our collection from our library to theirs. We are also committed to join forces to provide top-notch educational programming, as the G&B has in the past, but now with the added benefit of the NYPL’s wonderful resources, personnel, and venues. This partnership marks a wonderful, and very exciting beginning for the “new” NYG&B. Some of you may have seen the article The New York Times published regarding this arrangement on Saturday, July 19, 2008. It contained a factual error in that our Portrait Collection has not been offered to the New-York Historical Society, nor have there been any negotiations with them regarding this collection. Also, although the article did note that the G&B will focus on ” . . . grant-giving, tours, lectures, and other means of encouraging genealogical research . . . ,” it neglected to mention the commitment the G&B has made to providing first rate educational programs with the added support and input of the NYPL staff. The following press release is being issued jointly today by the NYG&B and the NYPL: New York Genealogical and Biographical Society Contributes Its 75,000-Volume Collection to the New York Public Library Step to Create One of the World’s Largest, Most Accessible Genealogical Libraries: A Singular Resource for Researchers of New York Family History
NEW YORK, NY, July 21, 2008-The New York Public Library (NYPL) and the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society (the G&B) announced jointly today that the New York Public Library will become the new home of the G&B Society’s library of 75,000 published works, 30,000 manuscripts, 22,000 microforms, 1,300 periodicals and digital computer media. Among the materials are 16th and 17th century land records; transcriptions of New York baptismal and marriage records; personal diaries and letters; and census data from as early as the 18th century. Joining the Library’s rich and heavily used genealogical and manuscript collections, the merged materials of the NYPL and the G&B will create an unparalleled, publicly accessible resource for those conducting genealogical research. The NYPL and the G&B will co-sponsor educational programs, create links to each other’s websites, and collaborate in various ways to make this invaluable resource available to the public.” Combining the two collections will result in an extraordinary resource for people nationwide seeking to learn about family members who were born in New York, lived in New York, or passed through New York on the way to becoming citizens,” said David Ferriero, the Andrew W. Mellon Director of the New York Public Libraries. “The G&B collection’s great strength lies in its holdings for the 17th to 18th centuries with emphasis on the Dutch and English. The NYPL genealogical collections are strongest for the 19th to 20th centuries and embrace many different ethnic groups.” “New York is the historic center of U.S. immigration. Together, two venerable New York institutions will create one of the world’s largest and most accessible genealogical libraries. As a result of this contribution, the wealth of genealogical resources in the G&B’s unique collection, integrated with the NYPL’s incomparable holdings, will within two years be fully accessible to anyone conducting research in this area,” said G&B Chairman Waddell W. Stillman. The G & B’s collections will become part of the Library’s Manuscripts and Archives Division and its Irma and Paul Milstein Division of United States History, Local History, and Genealogy. The Manuscripts and Archives Division holds approximately 29,000 linear feet of archival material, with its greatest strengths in the papers of individuals, families, and organizations, primarily in the New York region, from the 18th through 20th centuries. The Milstein Division is one of the nation’s largest publicly accessible collections of genealogical materials and includes hundreds of thousands of books, serials, photographs, microforms, and ephemeral materials in addition to offering free access to a wide range of tools for electronic research.Last July, the G&B announced the sale of its East 58th Street building and reported that it would be moving its headquarters and library to new locations. Simultaneously, the G&B announced preliminary plans for the restructuring and enhancement of its service offerings and its membership program. Its goal is to transform a 19th century members-only genealogical society founded in 1869 into a 21st century resource for education, research and scholarship serving increasingly Internet-reliant users interested in New York.” Once we decided to sell our building and move the library to a new location, ‘stewardship’ and ‘accessibility’ became the most important words in our vocabulary,” Mr. Stillman continued. “We sought the strongest possible partner – an organization that would value the G&B collection highly because it significantly complements its own and that would make the G&B library broadly available to researchers worldwide. Equally important, it had to have the professional staff and resources to appropriately house, catalogue, and properly conserve the collection. The NYPL has precisely those resources and a collection that fits extremely well with ours.” The G&B’s library on 58th Street closed June 1st, and its books, manuscripts, and other media are being readied to be moved to the NYPL starting in August.
I was alerted to this by Dick Hillenbrand’s article at Upstate New York Genealogy Blog. The New York Times reported this morning that even though the NYG&B had sold their building for $24 Million that they would not undertake the effort to relocate and maintain the library but instead has given the 75,000 volumes, 30,000 manuscripts and 22,000 reels of microfilm to the NY Public Library. The NYG&B was founded on 27 February 1869.
In the mid 1960s I would train down to New York City to use both libraries. It made quite an impact to be in the NYG&B Library – with it’s impressive reading room and open stack collection – to walk the marbled halls of the NYPL, lined with paintings and be able to research my family history in both locations.
When I first began using the NYPL in the 1960s it was administered by Gerald D. McDonald who served from 1945-1969 and then by Gunther Pohl (1969-1985) and John Miller (1985-1987). The Division is currently under the capable leadership of Ruth Carr long serving Chief of that Division. .