I’m writing this from New York City, where I’ve been since Sunday. I’m having a fabulous time with my college buddies, one of whom has moved to the Upper East Side. Early in the week, I had the pleasure of doing some organizing in her apartment (you can see my post on my organizing blog about the products I used in her kitchen cupboard) while she was at work.
On Wednesday, before my other buddies arrived, I had some time to myself. I purposely didn’t plan anything because I was so confident I’d win the Hamilton ticket lottery. Amazingly, I did not receive $10 tickets for the Wednesday matinee of Hamilton, so I decided to spend a little time focusing on my genealogy.
I thought I’d go to the New York Public Library, which has a great genealogy collection. I took a look at my family tree to see my New York-born ancestors. I looked at the sources I had for them and saw an index I’d found at FamilySearch.org and used WorldCat to see if I could find the book that contained that index in New York. Sure enough, it was available at the NYPL, but it was also available at the Patricia D. Klingenstein Library at the New-York Historical Society Museum and Library, at 77th and Central Park West, quite a bit closer to my Upper East Side digs than the 42nd street main branch of the public library. It was smaller and less overwhelming and therefore more appealing to me.
I learned from the website that the library is open to the public and has some strict security guidelines, in terms of what you can bring in. I also learned that it has an online ordering system that allowed me to research what I was looking for from home (well, from my friend’s apartment) and request it so that the books and manuscript collection were waiting for me when I got there.
It was a stroke of genius on my part to spend the afternoon this way. When I got to the Historical Society, located right next door to the American Museum of Natural History, I was immediately thrilled with the grandeur of the building. And while I wasn’t able to see Hamilton on Broadway, I did see the famous statues of Hamilton and Burr facing off in their duel, which is housed in the building.
Inside the library, my books awaited me and I immediately found some information that made the trip worth my while. Once I was through looking at the books, I moved to the manuscript collection for Coenties Slip, an area in lower Manhattan that was owned by my ancestor, Conraedt Ten Eyck, in the 17th century. (I blogged a little about Conraedt and Coenties Slip when I visited Manhattan with my niece a couple of years ago.)
The manuscript collection was comprised of original, handwritten documents. It contained Conraedt’s handwritten will. Not a facsimile of the will, the real deal. I photographed it through the shiny sheet protectors the pages were encased in, which created a reflection that will make it a little challenging to transcribe, but I’ll be able to do it. (That’s a picture of the first page of the will at the top of this post.)
What a satisfying afternoon. It was a delight to be in the gorgeous surroundings of this library, getting in touch with history and learning about my family. My friends don’t share my interest in genealogy, so I was so happy to be able to snatch this little pocket of time for my research while I was here. (And yes, I did log my research!)
I think I’m going to try to always find a little time for research when I travel, ideally using in-person resources available locally. I’m so glad I was able to build research into this vacation!