Genealogy Collection

Request for Local Yearbooks

First EFA...From '62 to '91

The Steele Memorial Library has been collecting yearbooks from the five area high schools since 1909. They have been very popular with genealogists and others ever since. Unfortunately there are several years that we do not have. Since they can no longer be purchased, we have to rely on donations of existing copies. If you have Elmira yearbooks to donate, please contact Sherry or Maggie at 733-9173 (Select option 4 for Reference) to arrange a drop-off time. 

To view digitized yearbooks online click here:  NYHeritage Digital Yearbook Collections

[UPDATED 6 Feb 2024]

The Microfilm Collection 

Microfilm Reader

These resources are located in the Microforms Department. After use, place film in the designated box (please do not return the films to the drawers, the Staff will do so.)

  • New York State County Histories
  • Elmira City Directories: 1860, 1868, 1876-1877, 1886-1975
  • NYS Poorhouse Records
  • Local Newspapers: 1835 to present
  • New York Times: 1851 to present
  • U.S. Federal Census:
    • 1790 thru 1880 for all states 1890 (special census only)
    • 1900 – 1930 New York and Pennsylvania only
    • New York State Census: Chemung County: 1855, 1892, 1905, 1915, 1925 (the 1825 and 1835 Chemung County NYS Census are in book format)
  • Mortality Schedules:
              • 1850 thru 1880 New York
              • 1850 thru 1880 Pennsylvania
            • Corbin Collection: New England Research
            • Cemeteries of Bradford County, PA
            • Early Catholic Church Records
              • 1848 to 1910 Includes most Chemung County churches and some from Addison, Waverly, Trumansburg and Watkins Glen.

The Microfiche Collection 

  • Upstate New York Vital Statistics Index. Births, 1880-1936, Marriages 1880-1961, Deaths 1880-1961.
  • Periodicals: ask Library Staff for assistance
  • Cemetery Records of Steuben County, New York
  • US Federal Census Index 1870: New York and Pennsylvania (partial)

Card Catalog

Card Catalog

We have some unique indexes available in our printed card catalog:

  • Local History File
  • Chemung County Census: 1855 New York State Census
  • Obituary file: 1982 – August 1996
  • Surname file: Name Index and queries of individuals researching

Genealogy Books

Some of the subjects that our books cover: Immigrants and Emigrants, Pension Rolls, American Quakers, Huguenots, Palatine families, Mayflower families, New England Colonies, Heraldry and Crests, American Revolution, Civil War, Passenger Lists, … and numerous other subjects.

Some of the States that are covered in our collection: (various information given) New England States, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, Rhode Island, New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia, and more. We also have some Canadian information.

Books in the Genealogical reference section of the library are open to the public. (all of the materials are for reference use in the DEPARTMENT ONLY and DO NOT CIRCULATE).

General Genealogy Texts 

  • Numerous “how-to” genealogy books
  • Local Marriage & Death records (taken from local newspaper)
  • Local Histories
  • Cemeteries of Chemung County, NY (most)
  • Chemung County Historical Society Journals with Index
  • Family Histories
  • State Histories (various states)
  • Military Histories (Indian Wars, Revolutionary War, War of 1812, Civil War, World War I & II)
  • War of the Rebellion, Series I, II, III, IV, & Index
  • Elmira City Directories:1857 to present (some early editions missing)
  • Corning City Directories: 1905 to present (some editions missing)
  • Local High School Yearbooks (not a complete collection)
  • New England Historical & Genealogical Register with Index
  • New York Genealogical & Biographical Record with Index
  • DAR Lineage Books with Index (not complete)
  • New York Times Index: 1851 to present
  • U.S. Federal Census Indexes: 1790 – 1850 for all states (some may vary)  1860 & 1870 – New York and Pennsylvania only

Local Cookbooks
Let's Eat CookbookParley Coburn Community Cookbook 1991-1992

Here is a link to all the local cookbooks in our collection. We focus on Elmira, Chemung County, the Southern Tier, and the Northern Tier of PA. We accept donations of local cookbooks that we do not yet have.

List of Local Cookbooks in our collection with call numbers

Local Cook Book Index Elmira: Use this index to search for a last name or a recipe. Use the keyboard shortcut “Ctrl F” to make a search box to search the document!

Local History Mission Statement 

For the purposes of this statement, local history materials are defined as those relating to the history of a country below the national level, such as the history of states, provinces, outlying territories, regions, counties, cities, towns or institutions located in such jurisdictions. Local history is, however, an integral part of history at the national level and serves to augment the collections on a national level by focusing on the specific rather than the general. So too, are local history publications closely related to, and, at times, difficult to separate from genealogical publications.

The Local History Collection strives to make local history material pertaining to the Steele Memorial Library, the City of Elmira, Chemung County, the schools of Elmira, and the community, organizations, institutions, and people of Chemung County and bordering PA counties accessible and useful to customers through systematic collection, acquisition, organization, cataloging, publications, reference and research assistance, and programming.

Genealogy Mission Statement

In addition to class CS, related material of great significance to genealogy is found in the areas of archival resources, biography, church history, folklore, geography, history, and local history. Although frequently associated with genealogy, works in the field of local history are treated in detail in a separate Collections Policy Statement, Local History. Important genealogical resources are also found in special collections of manuscripts, maps and atlases, microforms, newspapers, photographs, rare books, and electronic resources, housed in various custodial divisions of the Library. For a description of the genealogical collection, refer to the Genealogy and Heraldry Collections Overview statement.

The Steele Memorial Library Genealogy collection begins with available local history materials and local records for the community which the library services. As funds allow, collections will branch out to include materials for the county, state, border states, and states along the migration patterns leading into the state.

Genealogy collections will work to include the following: family histories and genealogies of local families; pedigrees and/or compilations of family group sheets of local families (originals or copies thereof); vital records when available; federal and state census for the local community; probate and will records; land records; county, city, and state maps; cemetery records; information on local churches; naturalization records; military records; local newspapers; county histories; and indexes to the preceding items. The items may be available and provided in various formats, including microform, print, and digital. Collections also include manuals and handbooks of how to do genealogy research.

The genealogy collection will be developed and maintained to support the basic research needs of the community serviced by the library. The scope of the collection should represent, at least, the majority of the community but not be limited to it. The collection should include basic materials on genealogy research procedures . These materials will include the widest possible range of nationalities and ethnic groups represented in the community.

Cooperative collection development will be considered when other genealogy collections are available locally to the public without charge.

Page Updated 20240206 MY.