Scope and arrangement
The Local History and Genealogy Division Records document the collections, public services and administration of the division, which is part of the New York Public Library's Humanities and Social Sciences Library. The records reveal the challenges and issues associated with running a library division utilized by tens of thousands of readers annually.
The records span the years ca. 1900-1987, with a concentration on the period in the 1970's. The collection is composed of four series: annual reports, correspondence, reference inquiry log books, and subject files. Strengths of the collection include the annual reports which provide a clear synopsis of divisional activities. The annual reports series is virtually complete, with only the 1984-1985 report missing, perhaps due to the retirement of Gunther Pohl, chief of the division. Correspondence with patrons, both individual and institutional, documents the high regard and esteem that the division was held in by its users. In addition, the records offer a glimpse into the nature of the day-to-day work of the employees of the division.
The United States History, Local History and Genealogy Division Records are arranged in four series:
Series 1 contains annual reports written by the Chief of the United States History, Local History and Genealogy Division that highlight the accomplishments, news, and issues of the division. The majority of these reports are authored by Gunther Pohl, who served as chief for 16 years. Standard information contained in these reports includes staff rosters, reader statistics, notable acquisitions and gifts, staff accomplishments, trends in the use of the collection, and a commentary on the state of the division's affairs. Requests for increased space, additional staff and improved services are recurring themes. The majority of annual reports contain attachments consisting of weekly surveys of reader use by affiliation and place of residence, as well as an inventory of periodicals received on an annual basis.
These reports are supplemented by the annual reports reference material files containing the information from which the chief would prepare and generate the annual report. The reference files, which date from 1960-1984, contain a range of materials including user statistics, notes, memoranda, and correspondence relating to the issues of staff, space, cataloguing, conservation, and improved services, as well as information regarding gifts received, materials loaned to other institutions, and group visits.
- 1948-1986, n.d.
Series 2 consists of incoming and outgoing correspondence from the years 1948-1987. The bulk of the correspondence is from the 1970's. The correspondence primarily consists of reference questions and answers, thank-you letters for services the division provided, solicitations from genealogical vendors and libraries as well as general correspondence with both individual and institutional patrons. There is extensive correspondence between the division and the Daughters of the American Revolution (D.A.R.), the Genealogical Society of the Church of Jesus Christ, and Microfilm Corporation of America. This series is arranged alphabetically by correspondent.
Closed to public research.
This series contains 7 log books that record reference letters received from 1941-1982. Log books were used to keep a record of all reference correspondence passing through the division. Entries were arranged according to the name of the correspondent, a brief statement of the subject, date of acknowledgment, and the date a reply was sent. Another log book contains reference questions from the years 1939-1955. Answers to the questions are provided or, in some instances, the source of an answer is listed. The series is arranged chronologically.
- ca. 1900-1986, n.d.
Series 4 addresses various issues relating to the running of the United States History, Local History and Genealogy Division. Included in the series are memoranda, correspondence, reports, minutes, and other items relating to individuals, divisions, and library matters. Space, staff, gifts and bequests, surveys, and acknowledgements and criticisms regarding staff and service are topics that are well represented. There are 3 folders regarding the holdings of the Astor and Lenox libraries on local history and genealogy from ca. 1900. This series is arranged alphabetically by topic.