Office of the City Register - Brooklyn

Which office is mine?

Navigating the borough Offices of the City Register can be, in a word, confusing. It seems simple enough--just visit the office that corresponds to the present-day borough where your ancestor's land was located. For ancestors with land in present-day Manhattan, the Office of the City Register at 66 John Street offers one-stop shopping. (Check out my previous blog post for more details.)

If your ancestors lived in Brooklyn, however, you have several choicesYou can visit:

  1. The Brooklyn City Register's Office
    This option is the most straightforward. The office is easy to reach via several subway lines and they have Brooklyn deeds and mortgages available on microfilm. However, the microfilm image quality can be poor, which makes the originals preferable in some cases. Since the Brooklyn office is on the small side, the city stores the original records at...
  2. The Queens City Register's Office
    That's right. If your ancestors lived in Brooklyn, you may need to travel to Queens. All of the original Brooklyn and Queens deeds and mortgages are housed at the Office of the Queens City Register in Jamaica. The Queens office also has the Queens records on microfilm, which is handy if you're doing research in multiple boroughs.

Not confusing at all. (I kid.) Here is the location of the Brooklyn office, at 210 Joralemon:

 

If you're planning on visiting the Brooklyn office, here are a few tips to make your visit a success:

  • Go off-peak: There are only a handful of microfilm stations at the Brooklyn office, and they fill up quickly. Try to avoid going at the most popular times, like right after lunch.
  • Skip the laptop: There is limited workspace around the microfilm machines for a laptop, so instead of transcribing or abstracting records, it's faster and easier to pay for paper or digital copies.
  • Leave extra time for finding maps: Although the office mainly holds microfilm, they do have a collection of original maps. However, many of them are not very well organized, and by that I mean they're stacked in random piles around the office. It helps to go into a map search with the mindset of an explorer, rather than with a specific goal. You'll definitely find something interesting, but it might not be what you expected (but that's part of the fun).

If you're planning a visit to the Manhattan City Register, I highly recommend Molly Charboneau's article in the New York Researcher, available to members of the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society. It offers a deep dive into the Manhattan office's holdings, as well as tips for making the most of your visit.