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  Municipal Library Notes, March 2017

SPOTLIGHT ON: Municipal Library Politics Vertical Files

By Christine Bruzzese

    Did you know that Mayor Fiorello La Guardia presented a series of “Lessons on Good Municipal Government” in 1941? Who was Albert Ottinger? How about reading an original mayoral campaign flyer from Robert Wagner in 1961 focusing on his commitment to social welfare issues?

    These materials and more can be found in the “Politics” vertical files at the Municipal Library. Spanning the years 1917 to 2009, this collection features articles, press releases, flyers, leaflets and pamphlets. The researcher can locate information on political organizations, materials issued by Mayors on relevant municipal issues, campaign literature and so much more.

    An exciting development is in the works for this collection: in the near future, it will be available digitally. A pilot project is underway to scan and digitize the “Politics” files so all interested researchers can access these materials. Check the DORIS website for future updates.

    Answers to the questions posed at the beginning of the article can be discovered by viewing the accompanying illustrations.

Municipal Library Conservation Project

By Virginia Buchan

    Important conservation efforts are underway to preserve many of the Municipal Library’s most pertinent and valued volumes, enabling the Library to meet its mandate of making information accessible. In the rush to mass-produce volumes in the late 19th century, the mechanization of the book trade gave rise to abandoning time honored materials and techniques of book binding which contributed to undermining the longevity of books of that period. Many of the historical materials deteriorated leaving them unusable. However, the situation is now being remedied as the Conservation staff repair these items.

    Beautiful book covers with gold tooling, exquisite foldout diagrams, plans and early photographic plates depict the City’s burgeoning infrastructure and population rise. Thanks to conservation efforts, these volumes can take their rightful place within the Library’s holdings again, and are just some of the surprises and delights that await Library patrons.

For the Record...

By Michael Lorenzini

    Did you know that in 1958 Elvis caused a sensation in Sunset Park when he boarded a troop ship at Pier 4 of the Army Terminal? Or that the Sunset Park warehouses were used to store booze confiscated during prohibition? Did you ever wonder about the murals in the lobby of the Surrogate’s Courthouse? What do you really know about Wall Street, you may know that it was named after a wall the Dutch built, but do you know why they built the wall? And do you know what the Dutch called Wall Street?

    At the end of 2016, the Department of Records and Information Services launched a new blog, “For the Record.” If you are a fan of New York City history you are going to love it. Using the collections and resources of the Municipal Archives and the Municipal Library, the blog posts are written by staff and guest writers who shed light on overlooked bits of New York lore, and show the work of the agency. Ongoing articles have already covered the rich history of the Sunset Park neighborhood in Brooklyn, the design and construction of the Hall of Records (Surrogate’s Court), and explored myths surrounding the wall of Wall Street.

    Catch new posts every week at

Marriage License Record Accession

by Kenneth R. Cobb, Assistant Commissioner

    Good News for Family Historians!

    All marriage license records prior to 1950 are now available at the Municipal Archives. In November 2016, the Archives accessioned from the Office of the City Clerk the marriage license records and indexes, for all five Boroughs, dating from 1930 through 1949. This is the first noteworthy addition to the Archives collection of vital records in more than two decades. They are significant for their volume—1.5 million records; and their date span—extending into the post-war years when the number of marriages increased dramatically. Manhattan marriages doubled from 19,000 in 1939, to 45,000 in 1946. (Hello Baby-Boomers!)

    As many family historians know, there are potentially TWO entirely separate record series documenting marriages. Beginning in 1866, persons performing a marriage ceremony were required to report it to the Health Department. This responsibility continued through 1937 and the “Health Department” marriage certificates have been available at the Municipal Archives for many years.

    The license series dates to 1908, when a N.Y. State Law obligated couples planning to marry to obtain a license. In the five boroughs of New York City the City Clerk issues the license. The City Clerk marriage record series typically includes an “affidavit” form filled-out by the couple, the “license” issued by the Clerk, and a “certificate” filled-out by the person performing the wedding ceremony. Although the data recorded in both series is duplicative, the licenses include additional information: bride and groom parents’ “country of birth,” and the bride’s occupation.

    The two series are filed and indexed separately. On-line searchable indexes to the Health Department certificates (1866-1937) are available for free via the local genealogy organizations Italian Genealogical Group and German Genealogical Group, as well as and other commercial sites. The on-line searchable indexes to marriage records pertain ONLY to marriages reported to the Health Department between 1866 and 1937. Although there is not a searchable database index to the City Clerk license series (1908-1949), a pdf version of the original ledger-style index is available at the website

Social Media Update

by LaTonya Jones

    In February, we launched a new series, titled #TuesdayTips. Each week, we provide our followers with industry-related tips or hacks which will hopefully help both peers and novices alike. The City’s experts on all things history-related will offer advice on wide-ranging topics, including but not limited to: researching one’s family history, preserving old documents, storing photos, managing electronic records, and, of course, exploring New York City history here at DORIS.

    The unit is also working to improve the agency’s YouTube page by drafting more detailed descriptions for the existing content, uploading hundreds of new files, and creating a new intro and outro for all of the agency’s video content.

    In the past year, the social media team has visited each of the five boroughs in order to document NYC history. Recently, you may have spotted us in Greenpoint, Sunset Park, DUMBO, Woodside, or on the Upper East Side. Here are a couple of posts which resulted from our travels. Be sure to follow us in order to find out where we are heading to next...

@nycrecords @nycarchives

Information Security - Your Responsibility

by Praveen Panchal, CIO

    If you browse the Internet, every day you use a computing device - computer, smart phone, etc. - to navigate unknown internet "clouds" to exchange personal and work related information, all the while leaving bits of every transaction on your and, possibly, hundreds of networked devices across the world. All this data is susceptible to mischievous and deceitful hackers.

    You are responsible for the security and protection of electronic information resources over which you have control. Never compromise your Personally Identifiable Information (PII). This is especially pressing if your job requires you to use and store information for others such as:

  • Social Security numbers
  • Drivers licenses or other government-issued identification
  • Credit card numbers
  • Financial records
  • User IDs with passwords
  • Health Records

    Computers in the DORIS library and reference areas are protected by security software. Nevertheless, we highly recommend that you do not use these computers to perform transactions that involve any personal information. Following are few tips to avoid security threats:

  • Physically secure your computer
  • Never Leave mobile devices unattended
  • Be careful when logging onto and entering personal information into online resource
  • Use a screen saver to automatically password-lock your unattended system
  • Always log out of computer workstations and applications
  • Never, ever share your passwords and always change them regularly
  • Exercise caution when opening unexpected or suspicious email messages or websites links
  • Always check for and install updates and security patches
  • Always require a password to login to your computer
  • Always use licensed and up-to-date malware endpoint protection (anti-virus software)
  • Use strong passwords that cannot be guessed - at least eight characters including upper and lower case letters, numerals and symbols
  • Use file, folder and/or full disk encryption to protect all confidential data

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