Frederick E. Smith M.A.
in New York City and State
I am a professional genealogical researcher with 27 years of experience. I
specialize in the Greater New York City area and Eastern New York State. I offer full
genealogical research services, covering all periods of New York's history from
the Colonial Period through the Twentieth Century. I use all records available in the
NYC area libraries/archives and the NY State Library and Archives. I also travel to
local libraries, county courts, and records facilities throughout the region. Lastly,
I use the latest in computer technology and internet databases to access the most up to
date information. Professional memberships include the Association of Professional
Genealogists and the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society. Whether your research
goals are personal (tracing your family tree) or professional (locating missing
heirs/completing a due diligence search), I will put my years of knowledge and experience
to work for you.
Areas of Expertise:
- Colonial/Early American Genealogy
New York has always been the Gateway to America, beginning with the Colonial Period. Many families entered America via the Dutch Colony of New Amsterdam or the Royal Colony of New York. Still others migrated through New York State from New England or Canada, enroute west. Sometimes it takes a professional researcher on the ground to solve those tough research dilemmas or to exhaust all known records and give you the peace of mind that everything that could be researched has been. Genealogical research in the 1600s, 1700s, and early 1800s is not easy and requires a good deal of work in early records such as church, land, tax, probate, cemetery, and early manuscripts, but the reward can be great when success is attained.
- The Huddled Masses - Nineteen and early Twentieth Century Genealogy
Record keeping improved considerably from roughly the middle 1800s onwards. New York was the front door to America as successive waves of immigrants from the Irish to the Germans, Scandinavians, Italians, and Eastern Europeans entered through the city. Some stayed and made their lives here, eventually spreading out throughout New York City and beyond into the suburbs. Others spent their early years in New York, before embarking upon the trip west into the Heartland. There are many good records to tap into including birth/death/marriage (NYC and NY state), federal and state censuses, church and synagogue, cemetery, probate, land, directories, military, newspapers and others. If your goal is to trace your roots back to Europe, naturalization and ships passenger records can be invaluable.
- The Twentieth Century and Today: Navigating your way around New York's Restrictive Records Access Laws
Genealogy and locating missing family members becomes a challenge as you progress up into the Twentieth Century due to New York's restrictive vital records laws. An extreme example: NYC births are still closed to the general public after 1909!, while NY State deaths and marriages of less than 50 years are restricted. Fortunately there is access to the NYC birth and death indexes through the present which is helpful. All of this makes locating people tougher, but not impossible. Such records as probate files, land/tax records, social security records, cemetery plot lists, newspaper notices, and others can be used to trace individuals. As an example, most NY State probate files created after 1980 will contain a death certificate - that's a good end run around the closed access law.
The Twentieth Century was also an era of continuously shifting demographics within the urban areas of the United States and New York was no exception. A knowledge of these patterns is vital in tracing people in the modern era. For instance, families followed certain relatively predictable migratory patterns from the older areas of NYC to the outer boroughs and out into the suburbs of Long Island, northern New Jersey and Upstate New York.
Forensic Genealogy and Missing/Unknown Heirs Research:
Often a situation will arise where genealogical research is needed to locate the heirs to an estate. In intestate cases there may be no known heirs. In some testate cases there may be legal heirs who cannot be located. It may be necessary to conduct a due diligence search in order to locate and legally serve all distributees of an estate. I locate missing and unknown heirs for attorneys, executors, administrators, probate research firms and others. In each case, the proper documentation will be provided to establish legal descent and an affidavit of due diligence produced. Heirs will be located
nationwide and abroad. Let me use my 15 years of experience to bring about positive results for you.
- MA - State University of New York at Albany, European History
- BA - State University of New York at Albany, United States History
- AAS - Columbia-Greene Community College, Business Administration
Guide to the Region - Areas that I cover:
- Greater New York City Area
Defined as New York City itself, Nassau and Suffolk Counties on Long Island, the counties of northern New Jersey, and Rockland, Westchester and Fairfield Counties to the north. New York City as we know it today is actually the fusion of several formerly separate counties and cities. The consolidated City of New York includes the former City of Brooklyn (Kings County) as well as Queens County on Long Island. It also includes the Bronx (formerly the southern portion of Westchester County) and Richmond (Staten Island).
- New York's Hudson River Valley
Steeped in history, the Hudson Valley stretches from New York City north to the foothills of the Adirondacks above Albany. Counties within this region include from south to north: Westchester, Rockland, Orange, Putnam, Dutchess, Ulster, Columbia, Greene, Albany, Schenectady, Rensselaer, Saratoga, Washington, and Warren. In terms of migration and settlement, the contiguous counties of western New England must also be included. These include Fairfield and Litchfield in Connecticut, Berkshire in Massachusetts, and Bennington, Windham, and Rutland in Vermont.
- From the Catskills into the Central Leatherstocking Region and Mohawk Valley
From the original settled areas of the 1600s and early 1700s, settlement spread west and north into the Catskills, Mohawk Valley and beyond. Counties in these regions include: Sullivan, Delaware, Broome, Chenango, Otsego, Madison, Schoharie, Schenectady, Montgomery, Fulton, Herkimer, and Oneida.
Major Libraries and other Research Repositories in the Region:
- New York Genealogical and Biographical Society Library
- New York City Municipal Archives
- New York County Clerk - Division of Old Records
- New York Public Library
- National Archives - New York City Branch
- National Archives - Pittsfield, Massachusetts Branch
- New York Historical Society Library
- Brooklyn Historical Society Library (currently closed for renovations)
- The Center For Jewish History
- Queens Public Library - Long Island History Room
- Huntington, L.I. Resource Center and Archives
- New York State Library in Albany
- New York State Archives in Albany
- Adriance Library in Poughkeepsie
- Berkshire Athenaeum in Pittsfield, Massachusetts
- Westchester County Archives and Historical Society Library
- Rockland County Historical Society Library
- Orange County Historical Society Library
- Ulster County Genealogical Society Library
- Columbia County Historical Society Library
- Delaware County Historical Association Library
- Greene County Historical Society Library
- Montgomery County Archives and Historical Society Library
- New York State Historical Association Library in Cooperstown
- Historical and genealogical society libraries throughout the region
- County records centers and surrogate's courts throughout the region
- New York City Department of Health: Vital Records Office
- New York State Department of Health: Vital Records Office in Albany
- New Jersey State Library, Archives, and Dept. of Health in Trenton
New York City and New York State Vital Records:
New York City and New York State maintain separate vital records offices. Differing rates and procedures apply in the two jurisdictions. Click Here for a more detailed description of what vital records are available and the procedure/fees to order a search/copy of a record. I offer rapid turn-around and special expedited rates if time is of the essense.
Family History Research: My fee structure is broken down by region. In
New York City, Long Island and Northern NJ, my basic fee is $40/hr. In the lower Hudson Valley Counties of Rockland, Westchester, Putnam and Orange, a fee of $35 per hour will apply. North of there - across Upstate NY (and adjacent western New England), my basic fee is $30/hr.
Missing Heirs and Probate Research: An hourly fee of $50 plus expenses will apply.
I generally ask for a five hour minimum to begin a new project, but will make exceptions when a narrowly defined specific request is made (IE: you need some specific birth records retrieved). In such cases a one hour minimum applies.
Expenses will vary by case and by the locality in which the research takes place. Where possible, I divide expenses evenly between the clients that I am working for on a particular day/location. While expenses will vary, I offer the following general estimates: In the NYC Area total expenses for a five hour block of research will average $30-$35. In Upstate New York expenses will only average half that. Typical expenses include parking, tolls, archives admission, mass transit, photocopies, postage, and a service/handling charge of $5 per five hours of research.
- Mileage/Travel Surcharge:
I do not charge any mileage/travel surcharge for travel into Manhattan or at the New York State facilities in Albany. Where possible, I will combine projects to lesson the burden on any one client. For instance, if time is not a major factor, I will put aside various projects for a certain county/region and plan them all on the same day so as to divide the travel expense several ways.
In the NYC Area, the travel surcharge is based upon the commute time between research locations. The commute time will be factored into the overall time/cost estimate. Click Here for an example of how the travel expense would apply within the NYC area.
In Upstate New York, I charge a basic fee of 35 cents per mile for on-site research (Albany area excluded) - based upon the round trip distance from Delanson, NY. You will not be billed for commute time - just for mileage. Click Here for an example of how the travel expense would apply within Upstate New York.
The research process will begin with a consultation, preferably via email or phone. From there, a research plan will be devised to best meet your goals. A time/cost estimate will be provided and generally an upper limit of hours will be set. As noted above, I generally require a retainer for the first five hours of research, but that is negotiable if you have a smaller more narrowly defined request. A full research report, including documentation of all sources consulted, will be provided following the completion of research. Interim reports/updates will be forthcoming during extensive research projects. If further research is in order, I will provide specific recommendations.
Please email inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org. Or can also be reached by phone at (845) 417-8097 or via post at 24 Crow Hill Road, Delanson, NY 12053. Where possible, I would ask that you try to set certain specific research goals and provide family group sheets laying out any known information about a family line. When emailing, please place your surname followed by the family surname to be researched in the subject line of the email. As an example: Smith/Johnson Family Research Inquiry.
Payment can be made by cash, check, money order, or credit card. If you wish to make payment via paypal or major credit card, please indicate that in your email inquiry and I will invoice you electronically for the agreed upon amount.
Updated on March 18, 2021.