Prepared by a noted authority on Long Island, New York families for the Lewis Publishing Company, this four-volume work contains hundreds of genealogical essays pertaining to New York City families. While similar in a number of respects to the regional collections of family histories for New York State compiled by William R. Cutter and Cuyler Reynolds and reprinted by Clearfield Company, this collection departs from that pattern in a few important respects. The first 75 pages or so of Volumes I and II are devoted to topics of a historical nature, such as the settlement of New Amsterdam, Dutch governors, the English conquest, early schools of New York City, pioneering New York newspapers, and so forth. Interspersed among the family histories, moreover, are sketches of a number of the oldest churches of New York.
Mr. Pelletreau’s primary concern, nevertheless, was with the family histories of New Yorkers who had made a contribution to the city or the nation, as is attested to by the fact that three-fourths of Volumes I and II and almost all of Volumes III and IV consist of family history essays in the Lewis Publishing Company tradition. The majority of the sketches move forward from the oldest known ancestor to the contemporary subject of the essay. This is followed by a detailed biography of that person and, in scores of instances, his photo, as well as an enumeration of collateral lines related to the principal subjects. The index at the back of the final volume identifies more than a thousand of the principal descendants of the families treated in the work, which are listed below and represent a unique and previously inaccessible source of New York City ancestry.