RCHS manages and administers the largest local history library, archives and research center in Rensselaer County. These collections, comprising more than 30,000 items, are the fastest-growing and most well-used collections at RCHS. All collections are non-circulating.
The Rensselaer County Historical Research Library is open Thursday – Saturday from 12:00pm to 5:00pm, February 23rd – December 22nd.
Members of the Historical Society and students with a valid I.D. receive free admission.
A fee of $7.00 a day is charged to use the research library, $6.00 for seniors.
We are pleased to work with you to schedule research appointments at other times with advance notice of at least two weeks. For use of the library outside regular public hours, we charge $50 for up to two hours of library time. This fee includes the option of pulling up to two surrogate court records. Additional records may be pulled for an additional fee. Please call 518-272-7232 and leave a message if you would like to make an appointment outside of regular hours or email email@example.com.
Collections of the RCHS Library are added to on a regular basis.
Finding Aids to specific collections can be accessed here.
Search RCHS’s Library Holdings via the Capital District Library Council.
RCHS continues to add our library holdings to this online catalog. Currently, over 1500 pamphlets and books are listed. To access the online catalog, visit http://catalog.cdlc.org
Click on Advance Search
Scroll to bottom and find the Location ad Availability box
Use the pull down menu to select Rensselaer County Historical Society
Research Information & Fees
RCHS knows not everyone can make it to our library to conduct their research. RCHS can assist you in the following ways.
Surrogate Court Records
RCHS is the repository for the Rensselaer County Surrogate Court Records, 1791-1915. These documents are often a great asset to genealogists. Records from 1915 to present day and later records are at the Surrogate Court.
An on-line index can be found at here at the Troy Irish Genealogy Society’s webpage.
Copies of these original source documents can be requested from the Rensselaer County Historical Society. The fee ($30 per file/$25 for RCHS and TIGS members) covers the cost of pulling a single file from the archives, as well as photocopying ALL documents in that folder and mailing a complete package to the requester. To order a Surrogate Court file, print out the form and mail it with payment to RCHS. Please allow 6 weeks for processing
Basic Research Request
RCHS staff and trained library volunteers can conduct a basic review of our most used reference material for you. We estimate that a basic search of our collections for appropriate material and a written reply to you should take four to six weeks. For all research requests we will send you a list of sources that have been searched, whether we find the information requested or not. We provide this list so you will not have to recheck these sources. Please note that we cannot guarantee that we will find the information you request as it may not exist in our collections, or at all. In the event that we cannot find the information, we will provide you with a list of local researchers. The for for this service is $50 per request, $45 for RCHS members.
Please consult with Stacy Pomeroy Draper, Curator, about your research request before writing to us. Some research requests can be quickly resolved or in some cases, we can tell you if RCHS doesn’t have the records you are looking for. Mrs. Draper can be reached at 518-272-7232 x.14 or firstname.lastname@example.org. To view a copy of the Research Request letter and form, click here
Brief Index to Historical Records at RCHS
Primary Sources – 19th and 20th centuries
- Business Records
Secondary Sources – 19th and 20th centuries
- City Directories
- County Histories
- Family Histories
- Labor History
- Social History
- Town and Village Histories
Maps/Atlases – early 19th century – 1990
- 19th and 20th century maps of towns – a printed guide exists to this collection
- Sanborn Maps: 1903 – 1914, 1942, 1954
19th and 20th centuries, representing various photographic processes
- Aerial Views
- Architecture: churches, commercial buildings, monuments, residences, schools, social and civic buildings, street scenes, details. Click here for information on local architecture.
- Disasters: blizzards, floods and fires
- Foreign Locations
- Group Portraits
- Individual Portraits
- Objects: Burden Water Wheel, equipment, commercial products, plaques and trophies
- Panoramic Views
- Recreation and Sports
- Special Events
- Transportation: air, land, water
- Waterways and Bridges
- Cluett, Peabody & Co. Papers, Troy, NY
- Congressman Dean P. Taylor Papers
- Organizational Papers such as Troy Chromatics, Thursday Morning Club, Troy Day Home
- Samaritan Hospital School of Nursing Papers
- Hart Family Papers (owners of the Hart-Cluett Mansion)
- Papers of Rensselaer County families
- Cable Flax Mill Papers, Schaghticoke, NY
- Burden Iron Company Papers, Troy, NY
- Marshall Mills Papers, Troy, NY
RCHS does not have birth records, obituary notices, census information or local newspapers. This information may be available at:
Troy Public Library
l00 Second Street
Troy, N Y 12180
Land Records, deeds, etc. are at the County Clerk’s Office: (518) 270-4080.
Online searches for a fee of Rensselaer County land records can be made at www.nylandrecords.com. Naturalization records are available by mail at Rensselaer County Clerk’s Office, 105 Third St., Troy, NY 12180 “Attention: Naturalization Records”
Wills, etc. after 1915 are at the County Surrogate Court Office: (518) 270-3724.
Rensselaer County was founded in 1791, so records before 1791, if they exist, may be available through Albany County. Albany County Hall of Records: (518) 436-3663 or www.albanycounty.com/achor/. You may also wish to contact the appropriate Rensselaer County Town Historian – a current listing is located here.
Other local repositories with special local history collections:
Troy Public Library
100 Second Street
Troy, New York 12180
Emma Willard School Archives, Troy
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Archives, Troy
Russell Sage College Archives, Troy
There are also many records still in the hands of local businesses, organizations, clubs, churches and individuals.
For a list of Rensselaer County Town Historians, historians of Rensselaer County updated February 2015