The New York State Archives recently announced the creation of two tools, called “pathfinders,” to help genealogists and researchers locate naturalization and probate records created throughout New York, from the colonial period to the present.
Naturalizations grant the full legal rights and privileges held by native-born individuals to someone born in another country. Legal jurisdiction over naturalization has changed repeatedly since the colonial period, so the records can be found in various locations. They may be in the county clerk’s office, the New York State Archives, the National Archives branch in New York City, or U.S. District Court clerk’s office. The pathfinder highlights books, links to indexes, and directories where researchers can find more information about an ancestor and the places that may hold these naturalization records.
Probate records include wills, estate inventories, letters of administration, and other documents relating to the administration and settlement of a deceased person’s estate. The State Archives holds probate records created or compiled by predecessor courts that had legal jurisdiction over probate matters prior to 1787. A limited number of probate records after 1787 are held by the Archives because they are filed and retained by the Surrogate’s Court in each county. For that reason, the probate pathfinder is divided into two chronological sections: before 1787 and after 1787. This pathfinder identifies collections within the State Archives as well as books and links to guides and locations that may help researchers.
The pathfinders can be found on the State Archives’ website.