About the Department

Mission Sta​tement

The department serves as an educational resource on all aspects of archival and records management for all departments of the Ontario County Government. Its major mission is to oversee proper storage, retention and disposition of County records as defined by New York State Law on Records Retention and Disposition and as promulgated in Official Rules and Regulations by the New York State Archives and Records Administration. It is also the mission of the Department of R.A.I.M.S. to retrieve records for the 55 County Departments by the most efficient methods, and to provide effective access to unrestricted archival documents for research by the general public.

Holdings of the Records and Archives Center

Deeds to Real Estate Properties (1789 - 2002) An important historical research source, particularly for the early years when Ontario County included all of western New York. The Deeds include the original divisions of the Phelps and Gorham Purchase.

Mortgages (1789 - 1947) A significant source for socio-economic and family history. Assessment Rolls (1790 - 1993) The very early holdings are spotty. However, these records, combined with deeds and Mortgages, permit a study of economic growth and government functions. Sometimes assessment rolls give clues in family history that cannot be found in other sources. For instance, a rise in assessment usually means that a house was built.

Surrogate Court Records (1789 - 1975) This is a treasure trove of information for virtually all aspects of social, economic and family history. Files often include inventories of personal property and debts. The wills and associated papers permit a study of family relationships. These records are indexed by name.

Guardianship Records (1789 - 1929) Records usually associated with the administration of estates on behalf of minors. These are not adoption records.

Naturalization Records (1803 - 1956) Holdings include Declarations of Intent, Petitions for Citizenship, and Naturalization Certificates. This is a very important series for the study of immigration, ethnic, as well as family history. See Indexes page

Military Records Holdings include Revolutionary War pension records, some early militia records, and 1862, 1864 and 1917 draft lists. Most of these indexes can be seen on the Internet home page.

County Court Records An interesting series that includes litigation as well as other court actions. These records are only partially accessible through indexes, and work is in progress by the staff.

Marriage Records (1908 - 1935) A relatively short run of marriage records, indexed by bride and groom. Records from other years are held by municipalities, not the County.

Federal Census Records (1790 - 1930) The Records and Archives Center has various volumes in hard copy, but all enumerations for Ontario County are available on microfilm. 1790 -1820, 1850, 1860, and 1870 are indexed. 1820, 1850, 1860, and 1870 are available on the Internet. New York State Census Records Available for 1845 (Canandaigua heads of household), 1855, 1865, 1875, 1892, 1905, 1915, and 1925. 1845, 1855, 1865, and part of 1875 are indexed and available on the Internet.

Maps A variety of maps are available, including the 1874 and 1904 Ontario County Atlas, that show lot numbers, school districts, and landowners; a 1859 wall map showing landowners, and 1851, 1889 and 1908 maps of Canandaigua with street names and owners. An 1856 map of the Town of Seneca and Geneva Village shows owners. New York State and vicinity in 1822 indicates migration routes.

Jury Lists Various indexed Jury lists are available for the 19th century. Often, these lists show occupations. See Record Indexes page to search the index.

Poor House Indentures This 19th and early 20th century series is a list of children indentured to families in Ontario County. See Record Indexes page to search the index.

Records Not Held by the County New York State did not require vital records until 1880. Ontario County Records and Archives DOES NOT hold birth and death records, and has marriage records only for the years listed. These records are held by the individual municipalities. The Records and Archives Center is a government department and does not collect private records such as newspapers, cemetery lists, church records, historical photographs, advertising ephemera, diaries or letters. Contact the appropriate municipal historians and historical societies for these records.

Restricted Records The Records and Archives Center is the depository of inactive records from all County departments. The departments retain ownership and individuals have to apply to the appropriate departments for access permission. Some records, such as adoptions, are severely restricted and opened only by court order.