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History: New York State: Primary Sources


Census of the State of New York, for 1835; containing an enumeration of the inhabitants of the state with other statistical information. 1836 Microfilm (XHA2 1835) (Similar census reports exist of 1845, 1855, 1865 and 1875). These reports do not include personal names. The information contained in these reports is described in New York State census records, 1790-1925 (Ref HA 545.A1 D68 1981).

Personal names are recorded in the federal census rolls.  Crumb Library has these for St. Lawrence Co. (and parts of some alphabetically adjacent counties) for the population censuses that have been released. These are in the microfilm cabinets at XHA 1. Ask at the Reference Desk about use of the microfilm. Other census records can be obtained through the Census Microfilm Rental Program. Fees are modest. Ask at the Reference Desk for details.

Archival Resources

Primary sources in library catalogs


Primary sources are often given subject headings such as these:

  • sources
  • personal narratives
  • diaries
  • correspondence
  • description and travel

Use these terms as subject terms in conjunction with the place you are researching.

Major collections of primary source documents

Digital Document collections

Microform Collections

County Histories

Many county histories were written in the late 19th and early 20th century. This is a microfilm collection of some of them. Others can be found in BearCat.

New York County Histories and atlases. 5 reels of microfilm containing 14 county histories for Oneida Co. and Rensselaer Co. (XF 14 microfilm)



The Charles Evans' American Bibliography (Ref. Z1215.E923), published in 14 voulumes by one energetic researcher and the American Antiquarian Society, is the most important general, annotated list of early American publications. It cites books, pamphlets and periodicals printed in the United States between 1639 and 1800, arranged by year of publication. Each volume has three indexes: author, subject and printers and publishers. The documents themselves are reproduced on microcard and stored in boxes along the wall behind the Reference Desk.


The Library of American Civilization

The Library of American Civilization is a collection of material on ultramicrofiche relating to all aspects of American life and literature from their beginning up to 1914. The titles in this collection are not found in the online catalog. Use the author, subject and title catalogs (in book form) and the index called a "Biblioguide." Sets of these four books are found near the catalog and on the LAC cabinet in which the collection is stored in the reference area.



Jeffersonian Americana

Jeffersonian Americana (Books Relating to America) (selected from Sabin. Bibliotheca Americana. Ref Z 1201.S2) - some 700 documents on microfiche at WF1 and NOT listed in BearCat. They are publications in many languages about America, from its discovery to mid-1800s. The fiche are arranged alphabetically by author, or lacking an author, by title.


Civil War Letters

Civil War Letters, 1861-1865. "Selected from those written by men serving in Union companies from Chautauqua County, N.Y. 14 sheets of microfiche, approx. 1400 pages. (Wa/E2)


American Periodical Series

This collection of early periodicals is on microfilm in the AP 2 section of the periodicals microfilm cabinets. The collection is described in the volume American Periodical series (Ref PN 4877.A1H65). The periodicals available in Crumb are those in the first series, mainly from before the year 1800. To see a list of the titles in this collection, connect to BearCat - Advanced keyword Search; choose in "Fields to Search"- Series Keyword; and enter american periodical series

Newspapers as historical sources - digital collections

Newspapers on microfilm

These are in the Crumb Library microfilm collection

Popular and news magazines

Selected magazines relevant to New York State history


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