Guide to the Municipal Archives

Background

Founded in 1950, the Municipal Archives preserves and makes available the historical records of New York City municipal government. Dating from the early seventeenth century to the present, the Municipal Archives holdings total approximately 246,000 cubic feet. Acquired from more than one hundred city agencies, the collections comprise the records of the daily work of city government, including paper records, multi-format network files, still and moving images, ledger volumes, vital records, maps, blueprints, and sound recordings.

The Archives includes an appraisal and acquisition unit, an archival processing unit, a conservation lab, and a digital lab.

The Collections

Our collections are typically organized based on the agency that created them. An expandable list below details the categories of records that we hold and corresponding agencies, commissions, and offices.

Collection highlights include vital records, census, and city directories. Records pertaining to the administration of criminal justice, dating from 1684 to 1966, constitute the largest and most comprehensive collection of such material in the English-speaking world. There are more than one million photographic images in fifty collections including pictures of every house and building in the city, ca. 1940. Legislative branch records date back to the first Dutch colonial government in New Amsterdam. Robert Moses' papers document the city's vast infrastructure from 1934 through 1959, and the records of mayoral administrations provide extensive information about every aspect of New York City from 1849 to the present. Other highlights include a comprehensive collection of the historical records of the Board of Education.

Access to our Collections

We are a non-circulating collection. Original historical materials must be used in our reading room. Non-original materials such as microfilm and digital records can be viewed on-site in our reference room.

For more information about conducting research, please contact us at research@records.nyc.gov