County Historian

The purpose of the Office of the County Historian is to collect, preserve, and interpret Livingston County's documentary heritage and manage historic records for the public.


Duties and Responsibilities


The County Historian:
  • Provides guidance and support to the 17 town historians of Livingston County
  • Assists the general public on research projects. Can't visit in person? Fill out our form here: Requesting Research. Know you want to order an image online? Fill out this form: Request Digital Copies
  • Publishes a periodic newsletter, Out of the Archives
  • Sets up displays on topics of historic significance
  • Attends events
  • Is available to give talks on subjects of historical interest to various group. See list of topics.

Research Center


The research center is open to the public (Monday-Friday 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.) and has an extensive array of resources. Drop-ins are welcomed, though researchers with in-depth special projects are encouraged to contact the office ahead of time and make an appointment in order to be better served.

The following resources are available in the research center; those marked "online" have been indexed in the County Historian's Online Records Index:

 
  • Cemetery Files - Survey of all marked graves in the county to 1885 (online); additional surveys and maps of assorted cemeteries
  • Census Records
    • Federal: 1790 to 1930
    • New York State Census (Livingston County only): 1855 (online), 1865 (partially online), 1875, 1892 (Town of Sparta only; online), 1915 (online), and 1925 (online)
    • 1890 Special Census of Union Civil War Veterans and Widows
    • All State and Federal census schedules are also indexed through familysearch.org; most original images are available for free, but 1915 and 1925 are only available on Ancestry.com and may be subject to fees.
  • Church Records - as early as 1804, from various churches around the county (some indexed online)
  • Family Files - Over 1,400 folders of correspondence, articles, and genealogy of local families
  • Local History References
    • Reference collection includes: County histories, Town histories, church records, directories, gazetteers, atlases, supervisors' proceedings, published genealogies, and more
    • Subject binders include: buildings and homes, agriculture and farms, businesses, cemeteries, Groveland Shakers, hotels / taverns / inns, military history, notable women, railroads, salt mines, schools, and others too numerous to mention
    • Genesee Valley regional history: Genesee River, Genesee Valley Canal, Genesee Valley Greenway, Genesee Valley Hunt, pioneer settlement
  • Maps - Early 19th- through 20th-century maps encompassing Livingston County and the Genesee Valley region. Some are available online:
  • Naturalizations 1821 to 1954 - from 1821 to 1906, most holdings are declarations of intention and final orders; after 1906, the declaration of intention, petition, and certificates are all on file (indexed online)
  • Newspapers on Microfilm - ranging from 1801 to 2014, with the bulk between 1824 and 2014; many are indexed for births, deaths, and marriages up to 1900 (indexes partially online). Recent obituaries indexed from 1989 to present
  • Photographs and Postcards - Large cataloged collection pertaining to Livingston County. Hundreds of postcards from every town in the county are also available. See our digital files policy
  • Special Collections - available for serious research by special advance request and permission
  • Veteran's Files - Veterans' information from the Revolutionary War to present (online). Some files in the archives include original photographs, military and biographical information, and newspaper clippings. You can order digital copies of these files via this form: Requesting Digital Copies.
  • Vital Records - This office does not hold official birth, death, and marriage certificates, with two exceptions: 1) Town Clerks' returns for birth, marriage, and death records for Caledonia through York, 1847 to 1849 (none for Avon or Ossian; some scattered); and 2) marriage records and/or indices from the County Clerk between 1908 to 1926 (online). New York State did not require town clerks to keep birth, death, and marriage records until 1880; after this date, birth and death records are available from the local registrar of the municipality where the event occurred. Marriage records are available from the Town Clerk where the marriage license was issued. If the location of these events is unknown, contact the New York State Department of Health.

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NOW AVAILABLE:


WW I Collection from the Livingston County Veteran Services Agency

June 2017



This collection of military discharges from veterans who served in World War I complements the Historian's holdings of military information. It may also be of use to those planning to attend college, as there is a scholarship available to descendants of WW I veterans.
The La Verne Noyes Scholarship is for direct descendants of honorably discharged American veterans who served in World War I. Noyes was the founder of the Aermotor Windmill Company, which is still in business. In 1918, he donated $2.5 million for a scholarship for World War I veterans at the University of Chicago and the University of Iowa. When he died, he had no direct heirs, so the company's ownership was put into trust for the scholarship, which was also expanded to include 48 different colleges.
Over the years, the parameters of the scholarship have changed from veterans to their children, their grandchildren, and now their direct descendants. Eligible students apply through the colleges offering the scholarship, and they need to show proof both of their lineage and of their ancestor's military service. This collection may be able to help - please inquire!


Livingston County Vital Records, 1847 to 1849

 

November 2016


This exciting series includes Town Clerks' returns for birth, marriage, and death records for Caledonia through York, 1847 to 1849 (none for Avon or Ossian; some scattered). Since this remains the earliest source of vital records for Livingston County until about 1881, it is an incredible resource. All records in this series are indexed in the Ledger series through the Online Records Index.


Poorhouse Record Book, 1829 to 1867, Transcribed & Indexed

October 2016



The County Historian's Office recently obtained the earliest known record book from the Livingston County Poor House, which opened in 1828 in Geneseo and provided support to those who needed it across the county. The book has just been transcribed, and indexed names and information have been added to the County Historian's Online Database. Click here for the first few excerpted pages of the book, describing the beginnings of the Poorhouse. It is an invaluable resource that helps trace individuals before 1850, especially women and children who would otherwise not appear in a census or other record.



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Books



Contact the County Historian's Office to find out how to receive or order a copy of the following:


Audio Tours

Livingston County Heritage Trail: OnCell Audio Tours


Videos



Local History Out Loud, Chapter One


Click here for the County Historian's latest video project, Local History Out Loud Chapter One: From the Iroquois Confederacy to Pre-Civil War Era.

Explore Livingston County's rich cultural heritage through spoken narratives arranged with historical imagery and music in this engaging video.