Thomas Paine Burial Plaque, New Rochelle
Photograph by Gray Williams
Frequently Asked Questions
Where are you located?
The Westchester County Historical Society (WCHS) is located in the Westchester County Archives and Records Center at 2199 Saw Mill River Road in Elmsford, N.Y. We can be reached Monday - Thursday by telephone or email between the hours of 9:30 and 5:00 pm. (914) 592-4323.
When is the Library open?
The Westchester County Archives and the Westchester County Historical Society Reading Room is open to the public on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 9 am to 4 pm except government holidays. No appointment is necessary. A photo I.D. must be presented when registering to do research.
Please note: we recommend that you call ahead to confirm we will be open the day you plan to visit and that we have materials that will be useful to your research. You can contact us by telephone at (914) 592-4323 or via our contact form.
What Reference Services do you offer?
Professional staff and trained volunteers are available to assist you in the Reading Room on Tuesday and Wednesday from 9 am to 4 pm. The staff can answer questions about our holdings, recommend sources and help researchers use the catalogs and indexes. All items in the WCHS collection, as well as those in the County Archives, are available to the public for research free of charge.
WCHS offers reference service by mail and email for those unable to visit the library. The library maintains a large collection of resources for research on Westchester families. Most of these sources can be searched for a fee of $40 per hour (one hour minimum). WCHS members receive a 10% discount. You will receive a report regardless of whether or not information is found. Read about and request our research services.
How Do the Collections Differ?
The Westchester County Historical Society has the most comprehensive collection of local history and genealogy in Westchester with well over 150,000 manuscripts, photographs, maps, books, diaries, periodicals, newspapers, and pamphlets. Included in the library's holdings is the Otto Hufeland Collection, the largest collection of Westchester history ever privately assembled.
The Westchester County Archives is the official repository of historic public records of Westchester County, dating from 1680 to the present. These include property, naturalization, will and probate records. More information may be found at the County Archives website.
Can I borrow materials in your collection?
No. Given the unique nature of the materials held by WCHS, items cannot be removed from the building.
How Do I obtain photocopies of material listed on the WCHS website?
If you would like to obtain a copy of a specific item and are unable to visit our Reading Room in person, WCHS staff can copy the material for you for a nominal fee. Contact us with your specific request. Please note that not all material may be copied and WCHS reserves the right to refuse to copy material that is deemed too fragile.
Can I use my digital camera or laptop computer in the Reading Room?
Laptop computers are permitted in the Reading Room. We do not permit items in the WCHS collection to be photographed by digital camera. To discuss your specific needs, please contact us at (914) 592-4323 or via our contact form.
How can I purchase a copy of a picture I saw on your website?
If you would like to order a print of one of the pictures on our website please contact WCHS staff for size and pricing information. View statement of policy.
How do I obtain a copy of my child's / my parent's / my own birth certificate?
Birth records are not available at WCHS. In order to obtain a copy of a birth record, contact the clerk of the local municipality where the birth took place. For contact information for local municipalities, try the Westchester County Government website's links to local governments.
How do I obtain a copy of my marriage certificate?
Marriage records are not available at WCHS. In order to obtain a copy of a marriage record, contact the clerk of the local municipality where the marriage license was issued. For contact information for local municipalities, try the Westchester County Government website's links to local governments.
How do I obtain a copy of my parents' / my grandparents' death certificate?
Death records are not available at WCHS. In order to obtain a copy of a death certificate, contact the clerk of the local municipality where the death took place. For contact information for local municipalities, try the Westchester County Government website's links to local governments.
Do you have birth, marriage and death records for genealogical research?
WCHS has many indexes of birth, marriage and death notices that were recorded throughout Westchester County. For the most part these are typed transcripts gleaned from varied sources such as newspapers, family bibles, original manuscripts, and town records. Read more about Catalogs and Finding Aids.
Do you have church records?
WCHS has various records from over 100 churches and religious organizations in Westchester County. Read more about Catalogs and Finding Aids.
Do you have cemetery records?
WCHS has an extensive listing of cemeteries and indexes to names of those buried in Westchester County. Read more about Catalogs and Finding Aids.
I'm trying to research the history of my house. What information do you have at WCHS that would be of use to me?
Building plans for individual houses are not available at WCHS. To obtain building plans, contact the local building department for the municipality where the house is located. For contact information for local municipalities, try the Westchester County Government website's links to local governments.
WCHS does have atlases and other maps that can be used to trace the ownership of the land a house stands on. We also have historical information and an extensive clipping file on Westchester's local communities that can be of use in tracing ownership.
Where can I find more information about historic preservation and how to place a property on the National Register of Historic Places?
View information about historic preservation in Westchester County on our website. For more detailed information on preservation and on how to place a property on the National Register of Historic Places, access the historic preservation section of the Westchester County Planning Department website.
Do you have any primary sources available online?
Yes, our collaborative Virtual Archives website highlights various aspects of Westchester County history through the display of primary documents. Our current offerings include: Westchester County and the Civil War; Historic American Engineering Record -- Bronx River Parkway Reservation; and Historical Treasures of Westchester County.
How do I become a member of WCHS?
Learn more about membership.