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Primary Sources & Archives: Notable Archives in NYC

Notable Archives in New York City

Brooklyn Historical Society
Founded in 1863, Brooklyn Historical Society is a nationally recognized urban history center dedicated to preserving and encouraging the study of Brooklyn's extraordinary 400-year history. 

Center for Jewish History
The Center Digital Collections feature a variety of digital objects, including rare books, children’s books, personal letters, official decrees, maps, memoirs, posters, photographs, scrapbooks, oral histories, finding aids, dissertations, and  more.

Center for Puerto Rican Studies - Hunter College / Centro de Estudios Puertorriqueños
Centro is a renowned institution with departments specializing in original research, much of it linked to social action; novel approaches to education, including the training of students and faculty in areas of Puerto Rican studies. 

Columbia Center for Oral History 
More than 8,000 aural and visual interviews that explore topics in U.S. and global history.

Cornell Medical Center Archives 
Papers, manuscripts, and patient records chronicle health care, scientific research, and medical education from 1771 to the present.

The Fales Library & Special Collection at NYU 
Subject areas include English and American literature, the Downtown Collection, the Food and Cookery Collection and more.

The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History
The Gilder Lehrman Collection is a unique archive of primary sources in American history including more than 60,000 letters, diaries, maps, pamphlets, printed books, newspapers, photographs, and ephemera that document the political, social, and economic history of the United States. The Collection ranges from 1493 through the twentieth century and covers the Revolutionary, early national, antebellum, and Civil War periods.

The Hispanic Society of America Museum and Library
The Hispanic Society holds the most extensive rare books and manuscripts collection outside Spain on the history and culture of Spain and the New World.

Leo Baeck Institute
The Leo Baeck Institute Archives preserve and catalog family papers, community histories, personal correspondence, genealogical materials, and business and public records that touch upon virtually every aspect of the German-Jewish experience.

Municipal Archives of the City of New York 
Government records including manuscripts, correspondence, vital records, ledgers, photographs, sound recordings, maps, and more from the 17th century to the present.

Museum of Chinese in America
MOCA’s Collections and Research Center currently houses more than 65,000 artifacts, photos, memorabilia, documents, oral histories, and art work. 

New York Historical Society Library Manuscript Collections 
Political, military, legal, cultural, mercantile, domestic, and social history of the United States from the 17th century to the present.

National Archives 
Public records including historical documents, military, immigration and naturalization records.

New York Public Library – Manuscripts and Archives Division 
Over 3,000 collections of papers and records covering political, economic, social and cultural history of New York and the U.S. from the 18th - 20th centuries.

Protest & Activism Collection 1968-1972 – Columbia University Archives
This collection contains flyers, correspondence, news clippings, press releases, transcripts of electronic media reports, memoranda, legal documents, meeting minutes, and photographic prints and negatives, this collection provides access to the myriad of viewpoints on campus during that time. 

Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives 
Covers the history of the labor movement New York including political and family issues.

Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture
The Manuscripts, Archives and Rare Books Division collects, preserves, and makes available for research purposes rare, unique, and primary materials that document the history and culture of people of African descent throughout the world, with a concentration on the Americas and the Caribbean.

United Nations Archives
The Archives and Records Management Section (ARMS) identifies, preserves and provides access to those records that document the history of the United Nations.

Remember that most universities, museums, art institutions, and libraries maintain archives. Visit their individual websites to see what is available.

What is an Archives?

An archives is a collection of historical documents, records, or objects that provide information about a place, institution, person, or group.  The items you will find in most archives are unique, and may include letters, photographs, diaries, records, and digital materials.  Archives may be searched and explored both online and in person.  

When you visit an archives, you have the unique opportunity to look through boxes and folders to find items that shed light on your research -- items that you won't find anywhere else.  So for an enlightening experience, visit an archives.  You never know what you'll find!