Gathering the Research Data, Part II


WILLS

Description

	Wills are legal documents which designate the heirs of a person's 
estate.  They are recorded after a death and are in effect from that date.  
In Albany, wills are available from 1787 to the present. 
 
	A will lists the name of the deceased person, the date of recording, 
the designated heirs and the contents of the estate.  Familial relationships 
often become clear through statements such as "to my wife, Mary" or "to my 
son, Mark". 
 
	The indices to wills are divided into varying time spans, with a 
single volume covering recorded wills from 1787 to 1895. these list the date 
of recording, the name of the deceased, the volume and the page number of 
the Books of Wills in which a copy of the document can be found.  See 
example #3 on page 25. 
 

Procedure

Wills are generally consulted only when it appears that a parcel of property was not transferred by a deed. When this occurs, the researcher should first refer to the index to wills for the appropriate time period and attempt to locate the desired name. (It should be kept in mind that not everyone leaves a will. Instead a letter of administration will be filed which serves the same purpose. These are located with the wills and procedure for their use is similar to that of the wills.) If the name is found, the researcher should turn to the volume and page number of the Book of Wills listed. It is usually unnecessary to copy the entire document; notes on the information needed for the building report should be sufficient. Again, the volume and page number of the book(s) employed should be copied.

ALBANY CITY DIRECTORIES

Description

 
	The Albany Directory is an annual publication listing the addresses 
and occupations of the inhabitants of the city as well as businesses and 
various institutions operating within the city during a given year.  The 
directory however, is only a partial list of Albany residents and should by 
no means be considered a complete source.  Among those excluded from the 
directory are children and slaves and, in the early years,wive's names were 
rarely included.  Each directory also contains an assortment of information 
and statistics on the population, government and institutions of Albany.  
The first city directory for Albany was published in 1813 and was followed, 
with an updated directory for each subsequent year, with the exception of 
1836. 
 
	There are three years for which two directories were published by 
competing companies: 1831,1834 and 838.  It is important for these years 
that both directories be consulted as the information varies slightly 
and a name that is excluded from one may be included in the other. 
 

Structure of Directory

The following is a description of the major sections of the directory which will be of value to the researcher: TABLE OF CONTENTS: Located in the front, the table of contents outlines the information found in the directory. Each contains information regarding city government, officials, streets and landmarks as well as listing residents, businesses and other institutions. ABBREVIATIONS:At the top of the first page of the section entitled "Directory", is an explanation of the abbreviations that occur throughout the book. ADDENDUM:Immediately following the DI R ECTORY some of the earlier volumes contain a list of additional names not included in the main section. The ADDENDUM should be consulted when a name is not listed in the DIRECTORY. BUSINESS DIRECTORY: This list, sometimes entitled the "Business Finder', is found in all directories from 1857 to the present. The list is arranged alphabetically according to the nature of the business. Professional, institutional and occupational listings are included in this section. Not all businesses are listed however, so it may sometimes be necessary to consult the main section of the directory. STREET GUIDE: Sometimes designated "House Directory", this section is found in directories for 1895, 1896 and from 1914 to the present. This section is set up alphabetically according to street name and lists occupants of all buildings in the city of Albany. If a building is vacant this fact will be noted in the STREET GUIDE. This section is a valuable source for discovering the names of the occupants of the building being researched. ADVERTISEMENTS: Most advertisements are located in the back of the directories but some occur at random throughout the book and on the front and back covers. Consult the ALPHABETICAL LIST OF ADVERTISERS.Located in the front of each directory immediately following the TABLE OF CONTENTS, if looking for a specific advertisement. All businesses did not run advertisements however, so this list by no means includes all businesses listed in the directory. Advertisements may occasionally be helpful in dating a building by including a picture of what the building looked like at a particular time.

Procedure

Using the information compiled from the Deeds, Assessment Rolls, and Water Rents the researcher should consult the directory for the following information which will be noted according to the format outlined. See example #4 on page 29. 1. OWNER'S ADDRESS, OCCUPATION and PLACE OF BUSINESS, noting all changes. 2. TENANT'S OCCUPATION and PLACE OF BUSINESS, again noting all changes. All tenants should be listed (except in the case of large apartment buildings). 3. BUSINESS known to have been located in the building should also be noted; if the nature of the business is unclear it should be traced in the business directory. 4. STREET GUIDES should be consulted in order to discover the names and occupations of tenants not listed in other sources. Names listed in the Street Guide should be traced in the main section of the directory to determine the occupations of the tenants. See below for procedure to be followed for using Street Guides 5. DATES OF DEATH, or moved to another city, when listed, should be noted.

Street Guides

The Street Guides are arranged alphabetically according to street name and, within that category, according to house number. The researcher should always note any changes in house numbers from the Assessment Rolls so as to avoid confusion when doing directory work. By tracing the names that appear in the 1895, 1896 and 1914 Street Guides in those directories that do not include Street Guides, the researcher may obtain information which had been missing. The Street Guides should be used in the following manner: 1895-Trace names back until no longer listed. 1896-Trace names forward until no longer listed. 1915-Trace names back until no longer listed. 1914-Present- Check for tenants' names and trace these in main section of directory for occupations.

CENSUS RECORDS

Description

	Census Records contain detailed information on the entire population 
of the area surveyed as well as on individual families.  Those censuses 
which will be most valuable to the researcher of buildings will be the 
Federal Census of 1880 and the New York State Censuses of 1905, 1915 and 
1925.  Each is arranged according to state (federal), county, municipality; 
each municipality is subdivided into wards and election districts. 
 
	Some of the types of information to be found in each of these four 
census years are: 
 
Federal Census of 1880: Address, names; relationship to head of family; 
sex; race; age; marital status; born within the year; married within the 
year; profession, occupation or trade; number of months unemployed during 
census year; whether person is sick or temporarily disabled so as to be 
unable to attend to ordinary business or duties; if so, what is the sickness 
or disability; whether blind, deaf and dumb, idiotic, insane, maimed, 
crippled or bedridden; attended school within the year; ability to read and 
write; place of birth of person, father and mother. 
 
New York State Census of 1905: Residence, street and number; names of all 
individuals in a given household; relationship to head of household; color; 
sex; age; nativity, U.S. or foreign country; number of years in U.S.; 
citizen or alien; occupation, trade or profession; class, employer or 
employee; for inmates of institutions only,residence at time of admission. 
 
New York State Census of 1915: as 1905; includes infants under one year of 
age. 
 
New York State Census of 1925: Residence, street and number; names of all 
individuals in household; relationship to head of household; color; sex; 
age; nativity, U.S. or foreign country; number of years in U.S.; 
citizen or alien; place of naturalization; class; inmates of institutions; 
infants under one year of age. 
 

Procedure

The census records should always be checked when researching buildings. They often provide names of occupants, especially women and children, that will not be found in the city directories; socioeconomic status may be determined by the inclusion of servants' names. The researcher must know the ward number of the block for each census year; he should then scan the ward (disregarding election districts) until the address is located. Addresses will usually proceed in order, although one building may sometimes be enumerated on an entirely different page. It is therefore important to check the entire election district if an address appears as to be "missing". (Occasionally a building is not listed; this should not be assumed until the entire election district has been checked.) The researcher should copy all necessary information for the address; census year, city, ward number, election district and page number should be noted.

REGISTRATION OR ENROLLMENT OF VOTERS VOLUMES

Description

 
	As was noted in the section on City Directories, it is sometimes 
difficult to trace all of the tenants in the building for the years 
1897-1913, the period before street directories became standard.  The 
Registration or Enrollment of Voters volumes should be checked (in addition 
to the Census Rolls) for names of occupants for these years. 
 
	The Enrollment of Voters volumes cover the period 1897-1985.  Each 
year is contained in a single volume; each volume is subdivided into wards 
and election districts.  Every street within a district is listed 
(alphabetically) and broken down by street address.  A registered voter's 
name (men only prior to 1920) will appear next to each address and, in later 
years, the party affiliation, if any, is also listed. 
 
 
 
	The researcher should determine the ward in which his building lies 
for the years 1897-1913,then turn to the proper ward in the Enrollment or 
Registration of Voters volume and locate the street and address.  The 
name(s) opposite the address should be noted along with the year and 
page number of the volume.  The researcher should then check the general 
directory section of the Albany City Directory for the corresponding year, 
looking for the name found in the voters' rolls. All pertinent information 
should then be copied according to the procedure outlined in the section 
on City Directories. 

MAPS

Description

 
	Maps and atlases chronologically arranged can provide a visual 
history of a city.  They often indicate original and subsequent settlement 
patterns, changes in boundaries, former names of streets and parks; the 
property dimensions of individual lots may also be shown, along with 
property ownership, former street addresses, structures on the lot, 
construction materials, number of stories, even whether or not a building 
had a cornice.  Dates of construction for structures may also be narrowed 
down. 
 
	There is a large collection of maps available for the City of Albany, 
ranging in date from the 1600s to the present containing diverse types of 
information.  Several individual maps that will be the most helpful and 
most frequently used by the building researcher are briefly described 
below: 
 
1850, Map of Albany by J.C. Sidney.  This map indicates building placement 
along the streets of Albany.  Some individual buildings, usually in the 
outlying areas, are clearly defined; in the more densely build-up areas, 
the blocks are filled in, indicating dense construction but not individual 
configurations of buildings. 
 
1857, Map of Albany by E.M. Dripps.  This map shows individual buildings, 
their configuration and placement on the lot and building construction 
materials (brick or wood). 
 
1866, Beers Atlas of New York State.  This atlas has only one map pertaining 
to the City of Albany but it contains information similar to that of the 
1850 map referred to above. 
 
1876, City of Albany, N.Y. Atlas by C.E. Hopkins.  This collection contains 
a single map of the entire city,followed by more detailed maps of smaller 
sections of it.  The maps indicate street addresses, property ownership, 
individual configuration of buildings and lot placement, outbuildings and 
construction materials (either brick or wood). 
 
1876-1974, Sanborn Insurance Maps.  These maps were compiled for insurance 
purposes; there are either one or two volumes for each year in which the 
maps are available. each volume containing a general map of Albany followed 
by many detailed maps of smaller areas of the city.  Every volume contains 
an index and a key which is extremely important for the understanding of the 
maps.  Some of the types of information included are: building configuration, 
construction material, number of stories and height of the building, 
placement of windows and shutters, cornices and roofing material, party 
walls, chimneys, sky lights, fire walls and outbuildings.  The maps are 
available for the years 1876 revised to 1889, 1892 revised to 1895, 1908 
revised to 1918, 1909 revised to 1922, 1935 revised to 1961, 1972 and 1974.  
Revisions were made by pasting on corrections over those lots that changed 
between the time of publication and updating, a new index for each year of 
revisions was pasted onto the front cover of the volume; the map in use 
will therefore be current with the last year for which an additional index 
appears. 
 
 
 

Procedure

When the researcher finds that data gathered from written sources is unclear or confusing, he should turn to maps as a visual reference source. Having first decided what type(s) of information he is looking for, the researcher should then locate an appropriate map or maps. These should be studied, the researcher noting the kinds of information found. If necessary, the map(s) should be copied to be used for quick reference at a later date. It is important to always note the map title,map surveyor, publisher and year.

PHOTOGRAPHS, PRINTS AND ARTISTIC RENDERINGS

Description

 
	Photographs, prints and artistic renderings of buildings can aid the 
researcher in documenting renovations, alterations or former commercial 
occupants of a structure.  In Albany such visual aids are available from the 
1600's through the present. they can be found in public and private 
photograph collections, in volumes such as Morris Gerber's Old Albany, in 
promotional publications, and in the city directories’ advertisement 
sections. 
 
 
 

Procedure

The researcher will generally use photographs, prints Or, renderings when he is having trouble documenting the date of a building alteration. Procedure for their use needs no explanation. However, when using prints or artistic renderings, the researcher should keep in mind that the artist may use some license and if so, that the picture may not be an accurate representation.

SECONDARY SOURCES

A primary source is a record made at the time an event takes place. It is first hand information, or an original document, which can take the form of a government record, a diary, a photograph,etc.... A secondary source is not original but derived or resulting from something considered primary. It is an evaluation of facts or statements found in primary sources and may take the form of a report, a local history, etc.... There are two main reasons for consulting secondary sources when doing research for the building history: 1. When more information is required regarding a person connected with a building being researched. This would be necessary when an owner or tenant appears to be a prominent member of the community or in some respect an historical figure. 2. When more information is required about a building that is being researched. This would be necessary when a building appears architecturally or historically significant. There are several local histories which include information on these topics. The following is an annotated list of those which might prove most useful to the researcher: Howell, George R. and Tenney, Jonathan, History of the County of Albany from 1609 to 1886, New York: W.W.Munsell & Co., Publishers, 1886. A history of Albany, it also contains biographical sketches of prominent Albany citizens, descriptions of local industries, and information about outstanding buildings and local architects. Munsell, Joel, Annals of Albany (ten volumes), Albany, New York: Munsell & Rowland, Printers, 1850's. Collected writings about Albany from settlement to time of publication. Includes travelers' accounts, newspaper excerpts and Common Council proceedings. Indices for some volumes are more comprehensive than for others. Munsell, Joel, Collections on the History of A lban.v, (four volumes) Albany, New York: J. Munsell, published 1870's. Contains collected writings of similar nature as Annals of Albany; some family genealogies. Indexed. Parker, Amasa, J., Landmarks of Albany County, Syracuse, New York: D. Mason & Co., Publishers, 1897. A history of Albany County, its citizenry and institutions from 1609-1897, some mention of local buildings and architects. Indexed. Reynolds, Cuyler, Albany Chronicles: A History of the City Arranged Chronologically, Albany, New York: Lyon Company Printers, 1906. History of Albany from 1609-1906.

Relevant Documentary Sources at the Albany County Hall of Record

 
Title	              Dates	   Title	                  Dates 
Tax Assessment Rolls   1813-1976   Index to Wills and Letters 
Water Rents	       1851-1972    of Administration	         1787-1895 
Albany City- 
Directories	       1830-1983   Wills	                 1691-1835 
Beers Atlas of		           New York State 
New York State	            1866    Census Rolls                      1915 
Atlas of Albany by		   New York State 
G.M. Hopkins	            1876    Census Rolls	              1925 
Sanborn Insurance Maps	    1892   Register of Voters	         1899-1966 
Sanborn Insurance Maps 1908-1909   Enrollment of Voters	         1941-1969 
Sanborn Insurance Maps 1934	   Indices & Records to 
Sanborn Insurance Maps 1972-1974    Building Permits	         1909-1925 
Index to Deeds	       1630-1894   Street Openings 
Deeds	               1656-pres.  Albany Common Council 
Mortgage Books         1630-pres.  Minutes                       1686-pres. 
 
NOTE: All sources are non-circulating.  Records are accessible to the 
public. ACHOR encourages the use of microfilm copies. 

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