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Monroe County, New York, Research Tips

Online Sources

There are many wonderful online resources available for use by all researchers for Monroe County. Recent additions have made researching Monroe County ancestors much easier than before. Below you will find information about these sources including some tips on how to best use each site.

Historic Marriages

This site, offered by the City of Rochester is a FREE and searchable database by either the bride or groom's name. Currently the database includes marriage records from 1876 to 1932. Most records between 1876 to 1906 include the following information for both the bride and the groom: marriage date, name, age, birthplace, occupation, names of parents, the roll or license number, and the clergyman who performed the ceremony. After 1906, the information is a bit less informative: Only the date of the marriage, the names of the bride and groom and the license number are included. And after 1909, only the year of marriage is listed along with the names and license number.

This database is divided into sections by year. You must add at least the surname and select the period of years you wish to search. If there are no results, you will be taken back to the search page and the name you typed in has been erased. The search box will default to the first period of years, 1876-1899.

There is no soundex offered on this site, so you must be creative when conducting your searches so that you have used all possible spellings to search for your ancestors. If you still have not been able to locate a listing for someone you believe was married in Rochester for the time period listed above and have exhausted all spelling possibilities, try searching under the spouses name. For best results, always search using the surname only.

Obituaries and Old News

This large database, all done by the volunteer work of Glenda SUBYAK, is a FREE database of transcribed obituaries and old news from Rochester area newspapers from the years 1818 through 1947. The site is completely searchable. You may either search by year and then by month or you can use the search feature on the site and search by surname, place, subject, etc.

Some of the web pages are long and it can be tedious to search for a specific name on a typed page, so I recommend that you use the search feature in your browser. For example in Internet Explorer, one would click on edit>find on this page. A small window appears and just insert your surname, place or subject in the find box and click OK.

Keep in mind that some surnames are also common street names so don't be surprised by some of the results you get.


Part of the New York Genweb project, this website is devoted to Monroe County. It offers a variety of things: Complete cemetery information; maps; French's 1860 Gazetteer; Biographies; a list of town and village historians; and some very nice photos galleries, separated by subject.

The site features a search box that offers the choice of "Find ALL Words", "Find ANY Word" or "Find EXACT Phrase". Results will vary depending on how precise your search is.

Currently there have been additions to the cemetery listings. If you do not find what you are looking for, many of the cemeteries can be contacted through email. Look for contact information on the Genweb pages or follow the links where available.

Once you have obtained cemetery information you can then use the death or burial date you have to find your ancestor in the SSDI (Social Security Death Index) to obtain a birth date for your ancestor if that ancestor died after 1961.

Religious Congregations

This page, part of the Monroe County Genweb, but a bit hidden, is a must to keep in you bookmarks while doing Monroe County Research. Vital records were not required until the mid 1870's in Monroe County, therefore church records are your best alternative to find the birth, death or marriage of one of your ancestors.

This page lists all of the area churches, by denomination, and the years of operation. LDS film numbers are given where appropriate.

Rochester City Directories

A new offering from the Monroe County Library, this is a definite plus for all researchers for Monroe County.

Currently this collection of Rochester City Directories covers the years 1827 to 1869. City directories are a wonderful resource. Typical listings include name, residence, occupation, place of work, and location. Later directories also included first name of spouse and death dates for those individuals who died the previous year.

Offered in PDF format, you can print out any page you wish, even the entire directory!

For searching each individual year, you have two options: You can either download the entire directory which may take considerable time over a dial up connection (it took about 5+ minutes over a high speed connection) or you can download it in four parts, a better option for those of you who use dial up.

You may have to click on the directory link for download more than once. Most likely due to a large volume of visitors to this new offering from the Monroe County Library System.

Rochester History

Another fine offering from the Monroe County Library System, these pages are a large variety of articles written by area historians from 1939 through 2000 on events and subjects related to Monroe County.

Each article varies in length and a good many have photos or illustrations. Offered in PDF format, these will take some time to download over a dial up connection but are worth the wait.

You can search the index alphabetically or browse the table of contents. I have found on occasion that the subject in the index seemed to link to the wrong article so it pays to be creative when searching this great offering. You may also benefit from the search tips that offered by clicking the link on the home page.

Rochester Images

If you would like a glimpse of Rochester of yesterday, this is one of the places to look. Also hosted by the Monroe County Library System, this offering has a wide variety of choices including images of the Erie Canal at different times to a total of 401 maps of the city, including Plat Maps.

You can search in a variety of ways, for example: "keyword', "author", "title".Once you find what you would like to view, click on the image. This will take you to a page that will give you more information about the image. Clicking on the image a second time will bring the image into a viewer. You can enlarge the image and print it at a viewable size. I was unable to get the plug-in- to work, however and images can not be dragged in the screen.

This will require some patience as download time even with a high speed connection is sometimes slow.  But it is definitely worth it if you can spare the time.

Life Records

Yet another new database from the Monroe County Library System, this site offers vital records information from area newspapers. You can find death information from 1960 through 2005; birth information from 1978 through 2003 and marriages from 1965 through 2003.

Searches can be as precise or as basic as you wish. A search with just a surname will give you all the records for any given record for that surname. Both the date of the event and the publish date are provided.

County Clerks Office

You need to register in order to use this site, but the database is FREE. Your searches can be in four different manners including name, page number, book number or what your search refers to. If you choose name, you will be given the option to include the complete name or just the surname. You can also choose what type of record you are looking for. The database includes all public records from 1993 to the present. Several of the records have images available for printing.

Civil War Database

While this database is not devoted to just Monroe County, it is still a very useful database for anyone who had an ancestor who served in the Civil War. Searchable by name, regiment or name and regiment, this database will give you the regiment your ancestor served in and the option to order the record for a fee. However, searching is for FREE.

Other Tips and Suggestions