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Gateway to North America: The People, Places, and Organizations of 19th-Century New York FAQs

The following are frequently asked questions about Gateway to North America: The People, Places and Organizations of 19th Century New York, part of EBSCO's Digital Archives Collection. Click on the question links to read the answers.


What is Gateway to North America: People, Places, and Organizations of 19th-Century New York?
Gateway to North America: People, Places, and Organizations of 19th-Century New York from the New-York Historical Society, features more than 800,000 pages of content from over 1,500 residential and business directories, organization records, urban guidebooks, and other sources rich in names and places that present a history of the people of New York City from the late eighteenth century through the early twentieth century. New York was long the country’s focal point of industry, trade, commerce and immigration, and this collection features materials that track the city's inhabitants over time and place, where they lived, where they worked, and what they did.

This diverse collection includes an array of materials ranging from directories with records of people's businesses, trades, and residences, to people's religious, philanthropic, and professional activities as chronicled in church annals, membership lists for business groups, and annual reports of charitable organizations (often containing constitutions, by-laws, and other governing documents as well). Through various materials published by ethnic organizations and leisure clubs, Gateway to North America: People, Places, and Organizations of 19th-Century New York documents how people spent their leisure time. Additionally, their educational activities are recorded in learned society publications and school yearbooks. Elite blue books, tax lists, vital records, burial lists, and registers contain important demographic information about the city's inhabitants. The collection's many guidebooks contain maps and descriptions of various neighborhoods, and public and private institutions, helping to recreate the look and feel of the city as it changed over time.

The Gateway to North America: The People, Places, and Organizations of 19th-Century New York, a result of EBSCO's long-term partnership with the New-York Historical Society (N-YHS), is presented through an innovative and dynamic digital interface specifically designed for this content, enabling scholars and students to interact with the material in new ways. The interface replicates the experience of browsing and reading original archival material while also allowing keyword searching, manipulation of page views, note-taking capabilities, and various downloading options.

To view a complete product description, key content features, and a coverage list for Gateway to North America: The People, Places, and Organizations of 19th-Century New York, click here.

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Gateway to North America: People, Places, and Organizations of 19th-Century New York was enhanced in the Fall of 2015. How has the product changed?

Based on the feedback from dedicated customers, and, with the guidance of and contributions by the experts at the New-York Historical Society, significant enhancements have been made to the functionality and data presentation to turn the search experience into enhanced discoverability.

  • Enhanced Discoverability. The enhanced database now returns volume-level results across the most of the database, whereas previously a user was taken to a part of a volume (chapter, introduction, advertisements, section, etc.). This enhancement allows for a more authentic browsing and research experience that is more akin to using the physical text and “browsing the stacks.”

  • Isolating Unique Titles. The improvements become even more apparent if researchers are trying to isolate keywords in source titles. For instance, if a researcher is trying to find all titles in the collection that were put out by churches (church guides, burial lists, annual reports, etc.), it is best to do a SO ("source") search.

  • Subject Indexing. Via a collaborative project with the New-York Historical society, we have applied subject terms to the majority of titles in the collection. These new subject terms also allow for the addition of a Subject Facet that allows greater precision in limiting, filtering, and navigating on EBSCOhost—both within the database and across other databases in a multi-database search.

Please also see the Sample/Demonstration Searches at the bottom of the page that will assist you in using the enhanced database.

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It seems like there are a lot of different types of content in the collection. What are the main content types?
The top content types in the collection are: 1) Organization Records; 2) Directories (residential, trade, business); 3) Guidebooks; 4) Yearbooks (schools and organizations); 5) Church Annuals. A diversity of content is contained within the publications that include advertisements, membership lists, reports, speeches, and historical materials.

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I’m doing research on some areas in upstate New York. What does the collection contain from this area in New York State?
The collection features content that directly pertains to one of the five Boroughs of New York City, which include Manhattan, the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island. Material from Upstate New York and other parts of the state is not included in the collection.

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The title of your collection states that it focuses on 19th-Century New York. Why am I seeing a fair amount of content from the late eighteenth century and early 20th century, and some content dating back to 1656?
The “long 19th-century” is a dating convention used by historians to include events from both the 18th and 20th centuries that directly pertain to the 19th century. Typically, this “long 19th century” will include the French and American revolutions in the 18th century and up to the end of World War I in the 20th century. The content from the mid-1600s are printed transcripts of government proceedings in New Amsterdam (the old name of New York City).

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Sample/Demonstration Searches
From the Advanced Search screen, enter the following terms in the Find field, following the steps described below:

1846 New York City Directories

  1. Type “FT Y” (no quotation marks) in the main search box and click the Search button. This will display all of the records in the database in the Search Results.
  2. Under Source Types on the left side of the screen, click the Directories box. This will filter all of the results to only reveal business, city, trade, and other types of directories.
  3. Under Limit To on the left side of the screen, use the slider to limit your results to only show content from 1846.
  4. One can now view all seven directories. These include city, business, and church directories.

John D. Rockefeller

  1. Navigate to the Publications tab, type Society List & Club Register in the Browsing search box, and click on the link for Society List & Club Register.
  2. Click on the 1889/1990 issue to the right within the Issue Tree.
  3. Click on View Full Text to view the volume in the Archives Viewer.
  4. In the search box to the left, type Rockefeller and click the Go button.
  5. Click on the link below to Page 201 that has two hits for Rockefeller.
  6. Notice the two highlighted results, one of which is John D. Rockefeller, the famous business magnate and philanthropist who co-founded the Standard Oil Company.

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