On the Record with Commissioner Brian G. Andersson

Commissioner Brian AnderssonThe Department of Records & Information Services, New York City’s archival agency, was instituted in 1977.

We are mandated by the New York City Charter with managing, preserving, and making accessible the public records of the government of the City of New York. The Department is comprised of three divisions to meet its mission: City Hall Library is the provider of information concerning the government, past and present, of our great City. Our Records Management Division provides for and facilitates the professional administration, storage, and retrieval of the working records for the City’s agencies. Our outstanding and world-class Municipal Archives preserves and provides public access to the historic records of the city. Documents of all types detail the history of our pluralistic form of government and serve as the collective memory of our great City, The Capital of the World, which is certainly truer now than ever before.

Indeed, it is only in preserving the City’s records that makes it possible to transmit our democratic, cultural, and unique heritage to future generations.

From our earliest Native American, Dutch, and English roots, these records are priceless, unique, and among the richest of our legacies.

It is my honor to be charged with their guardianship.

As a genealogist, I am especially proud of the extraordinary collection of birth, marriage, death, and photographic records which are so critical to the documentation of our individual histories. Photographs and maps, as well as the papers of past Mayors provide a wonderful resource for the historian, teacher, and casual researcher. In response to the tremendous world-wide interest in family history and given New York City’s role in so many millions of American families’ stories, we seek to increase our holdings and make them and other items more accessible through increased digitization of the finding aid indices and records themselves.

We will endeavor to showcase more of our treasures on our website www.nyc.gov by posting examples of our collection as they relate to notable New Yorkers, important historical events, and items of various interest. Please also tune in to NYC TV (check your local television listings) and view Emmy Award-winning programming which includes archival photographs (“Inside the Archives”) and television footage (“City Classics”) going back to the 1940s. “Secrets of New York” (winner of 8 Emmy Awards in 2007) also gleans our Archives for fascinating stories about New York that even the most jaded citizens find interesting and amusing.

Our most popular collection is the 1939 “Tax Photo” collection which is a photographic record of every building in the City taken between the years 1939 – 1941. The public has responded to this amazing series of photographs as a source for that gift for “the person who has everything.”

We are housed in the Hall of Records / Surrogate Court building at 31 Chambers Street, a national landmark of grand architectural distinction and worthy of your visit. Built between 1901 and 1907, it has been featured in countless films, commercials, and videos because of its stately appearance and Siena marble-clad lobby fashioned after the Paris Opera House.

For whatever reason may intrigue members of The Hundred Year Association, members are most welcome to visit us and discover what we may have pertaining to your own personal or corporate history.