Rosalie Bailey was the first woman inducted into The American Society of Genealogists and was an authority on New York City genealogical resources. Her guide to the genealogical sources for New York City first appeared as a series of articles in the New England Historical and Genealogical Register between 1952 and 1954, and was reprinted subsequently as a monograph by the author. According to Harry Macy, the co-editor of the New York Genealogical and Biographical Record, who wrote the Introduction to the Clearfield edition, Bailey’s guide to Manhattan “has been an essential research tool for the serious student of 19th-century New York City genealogy, history, and biography.” While the genealogical landscape has changed considerably since 1954, the Guide to Genealogical and Biographical Sources continues to be a reliable pointer for the manuscripts and printed works available in the five principal libraries with New York City genealogy holdings–the Brooklyn Historical Society (formerly Long Island Historical Society), New York Genealogical and Biographical Society, New-York Historical Society, New York Public Library, and New York State Library (in Albany).
No other guide to New York genealogical resources has dealt with this subject so comprehensively, a fact borne out by the following range of subjects covered by the author: probate records, deeds, births, marriages, deaths, censuses, burials, military records, passenger lists, naturalizations, biographical sketches, special court records, voting records, church records, and many more. Each record group gets its own chapter in which Miss Bailey furnishes background information on the history, whereabouts, and coverage of the records in question. To be certain, many original government records pertaining to Manhattan have been released since the original appearance of Miss Bailey’s guidebook. In this respect, Mr. Lacy’s Introduction provides a valuable corrective by supplying the current addresses of the principal repositories where the records may be found along with brief descriptions of their holdings, as well as references to several new sources, which pick up where Miss Bailey left off. Notwithstanding the importance of the newer sources, “No one,” states Harry Macy, “should attempt to do 19th-century New York City research without Miss Bailey’s guide.”