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Genealogy : Getting Started at The New York Public Library: Genealogy classes at NYPL

A guide to getting started with genealogical research at The New York Public Library


This page is where you will find

  • information about upcoming classes for genealogists hosted by librarians at the New York Public LIbrary
  • recordings of some previous online genealogy classes
  • electronic handouts, where applicable. 

Recordings of classes will be added to and updated in a timely fashion, when, for instance, a pertinent new resource, a database or collection, is made available.

The recordings are not intended as a replacement for regular NYPL classes, which include the latest news, and opportunities to ask instructors specific questions about your research.

Please see for details of the latest upcoming classes.

Please note: owing to the peculiarities of each instruction session, not all genealogy classes offered by NYPL are able be presented online. Email for further assistance.


The Milstein Division offers a number of free classes to help patrons with their genealogy research. 

Genealogy Essentials

The New York Public Library can help you with your genealogy research. This series will help you get started on your family history with detailed classes on the research strategies, best practices, and specific records and documents that help us explore and understand our ancestors' past. Taught by librarians in the Irma and Paul Milstein Division, Genealogy Essentials covers the fundamentals of genealogy research, and comprises the following classes:

Getting Started in Genealogy Research 

Start your family history research at NYPL. Learn about the library’s genealogy resources, discover essential research methods and strategies, identify relevant records and how to locate them, and organize your family research information.

Getting Organized With Your Genealogy Research

Please join us for a librarian led online class that will provide tips and suggestions for organizing your genealogy research, with the goal of making you a better researcher. This class shows you how to fill out pedigree charts, family group charts, and other organizational tools used by genealogists, how to create timelines to help you with your research, and how to construct family history narratives, making useful citations along the way. The class also takes a brief look at online organizational software currently available to genealogists, and how to prepare for research visits.

Researching Vital Records and the Census

Discover genealogical resources at the New York Public Library with an exploration of vital records and the census. First, learn how to search for and find your ancestors on birth, marriage, and death certificates. Next, we'll explore the history of the U.S. Federal Census, explore what other types of census records exist, and offer a variety of search strategies to use in your genealogy research. 

Researching Ship Passenger Lists

Learn the history of ship passenger lists for vessels arriving at U.S. ports in the 19th and 20th centuries, and how to get started using the research methods and resources related to passenger list information.  

Researching Naturalization Records 

In this class we explore the history of how  your ancestors became citizens of the United States of America, the kinds of records they generated when they did so, what information those records contain, and where you can find them. 

Newspapers in Genealogy

Discover the  abundant uses of historical newspapers for genealogical and local history information in the numerous digital collections available at NYPL.  

Other classes

The Milstein Division offers a variety of other classes that can help you with your genealogy and local history research, including:

Check the Milstein Divisions homepage for details of upcoming classes.

Class recordings and handouts

From 1565 to 1790, Africans comprised over a third of the roughly one million newcomers to what would become the United States. With little exception, these nearly 360,000 men, women, and children crossed in bondage. Centuries of local and federal laws related to the livelihood of black Americans have created a complex paper trail of genealogical resources. This class aims to provide introductory historical context and recommend basic research methods in the pursuit of African-American family history.

Reference librarians