While my personal family history research has taken me to the United Kingdom, Lancashire and Warwickshire counties and includes Connecticut, Michigan and Wisconsin in the United States, the primary focus of my research is and will probably continue to be New York State, specifically the Central New York Region that includes Onondaga, Madison, Oswego, Cyuga and Oneida counties. Those of us who have conducted research in New York State know that resources, especially those containing primary source information are difficult to come by. My years of working as an Adult Reference Librarian for the Onondaga County Public Library, which houses one of the largest genealogical and local history collections on the East Coast, has allowed me the opportunity to track down many of the extant resources that are available to the researcher, often in connection with answering a patron request for genealogical assistance, either by email, letter or phone. New York State, is often referred to as the "Black Hole," when it comes to useable resources and 'offical' documentation, i.e., vital records. Unlike New England States, New York State did not mandate that vital records be kept until 1873, and even then, participation by counties, under this mandate, was sporadic at best. To fill in the enormous gap prior to 1873, the researcher must rely on other documentation that may include: federal and state census; church and municipal records; military and cemetery records; Surrogate Court probate and miscellaneous records and those, including deeds, taxes and other resources in most county clerk's offices. Anyone finding it necessary to conduct family history research in "my neck of the woods," should access the library's web site at www.onlib.org and go to the Local History/Genealogy Department page; or email for assistance at firstname.lastname@example.org If you're planning a trip to Central New York and are able to come to Local History/Genealogy, stop at the main level and pick up a library card; cards are free and take only a minute or two to obtain. Library cards are required in order to access many of the materials held by the department.