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Research Resources Available At the L. Caroline Underwood Museum

The Spencer Research Center is located on the first floor of the L. Caroline Underwood Museum. The facilities containing genealogical information, publications, donated research and collected information on topics in Yates County's history. The Frank Swann Archives contain the Center’s manuscript and document collection.

Yates County History Center members may use the research facility for on site visits free of charge. A research fee of $5.00 per hour (minimum $5.00 per day, maximum $20.00 per day) for non-members helps support the preservation and maintenance of the research facilities. Students doing research for a school project or paper are exempted.

Research conducted by museum staff and volunteer genealogists is provided at a $20/hour fee with a one hour minimum. Inquires are accepted by mail or e-mail.

New and updated research to be added to our collection is always welcome. Please contact a staff member.

Cemetery Records
Most current and thorough information on all of Yates County cemeteries collected and published by Sherry E. Conybeare and Francis Dumas in a six volume set. These cemetery volumes are for sale in our Museum Gift Shop.

Census Indexes, 1790 - 1865
Complete index for records on file at the Yates County Clerks Office.

Cyndi's List of Genealogy Sites on the Internet
Cyndi's List

Documentary Artifacts
Collection of materials including deeds (1792 - 1949), mortgages (1862 - 1915), diaries, almanacs, certificates, personal correspondence, etc.

Family Research
Family history researchers seeking New York State genealogical databases are advised to check FamilySearch often for published records available at their site.

Genealogy Articles
Abraham H. Bennett
Lodowick Disbrow
Samuel Fosdick Curtis
James Raplee
Robert Selden Rose
Hezekiah Townsend
Solomon D. Weaver

Local History Publications
Books and pamphlets related to many facets of Yates County history.

Marriage and Death Records, 1820's - 1990's
Information gleaned from area newspapers, genealogies, and other records.

New York, Yates County, Swann Vital Records Collection, 1723-2009
Search the digital index to 88,000 images of the Swann Vital Records Collection located at the Yates County History Center, in Penn Yan, New York. The Swann collection contains compiled genealogy and vital records gleaned from newspaper clippings, bible pages, and family records. Named for Frank L. Swann (1894-1987) who was the Yates County Historian from 1956 to 1980. Additional indexed records will be published as they become available.
non Yates County Place Names
Yates County Place Names

Penn Yan Academy Graduates
Listing of Penn Yan Academy graduates for the years from 1866 through 1949.

Penn Yan and Yates County Directories, 1879 - 1990

Penn Yan New York by W Wolcott, 1914
From the publishers, "We issue this brochure in the modest hope that it may contribute toward satisfying the demand, persistently expressed, for the portrayal of the beauties of Penn Yan and Lake Keuka..." The History Center has reprinted Penn Yan New York and has it for sale in the Heritage Books Gift Shop in the Underwood Museum..

School Records
Attendance records for some Yates County schools and information compiled by Ms. Jennie. Hyler of rural Yates County schools. Rural School Memories is a compilation cross section of one room schools throughout Yates County. At the end of the Rural School era there had been upwards of 104 active one room schools. The 350 plus page book serves to preserve the people and structures from this historic time. Copies are available in the gift shop for purchase and in the research center to use while on site.

Scrapbook Collections
The History Center has many scrapbooks in its collections. Some of these were assembled by Yates County local, town and village historians and many family historians. A few date back to the very early Yates County settlement period. They can be a valuable local history and genealogical resource to the researcher. Volunteers have assembled indexes for the scrapbooks that contain significant historic content. This content was often typewritten on onion skin paper and placed in the scrapbook itself. The Spencer Scrapbook document contains 963 pages in Adobe Acrobat text document format.

The indexes are keyword searchable, include the principal subject of the clipped article and ancillary information. Requests for a copy of a page containing your reference can be processed for a donation of $1.00 per page with a $5.00 minimum. Members receive this service free of charge. The original scrapbooks are housed in the archives of the Yates County History Center, 107 Chapel Street, Penn Yan, New York.

Penn Yan Historian, Catharine Spencer Scrapbook Index contains 47,000 entries from 1900 - 1975
George and Oliver Sheppard's Scrapbooks contain entries from 1903 - 1949
Maude Stiles scrapbooks covering the 1930's through 1980's

Special Collections
Collections of documentary artifacts and photographs including the Women's Christian Temperance Union; Jemima Wilkinson - The Publick Universal Friend; E. Ben Knight, John S. Hollowell, Verdi Burtch, the Oliver Family, GAR, and others.

Women Who Made A Difference
First-person recordings were made in the early 2000’s by members of the Yates County Branch of the American Association of University Women (AAUW) and feature Yates County life experiences from a women’s viewpoint.

Yates County Area Maps, 1790 - 1969
Including Sanborn insurance maps, wall maps with lot numbers and residences identified, and the 1876 Yates County Atlas, the only such publication for the area.

Yates County Historian
The Yates County Historian has custody or original copies of the Penn Yan Democrat from the last half-century of publication, 1898 through 1949. These records have been indexed, are in the County's possession and are available to researchers. Penn Yan Democrat Births, Marriages & Deaths 1899-1939 Index.

Yates County History Files
Over 800 files of collected information by subject including mills, architecture, churches, farming, industry, and others. Indexed.

Yates County Newspaper Resources on Paper, Microfilm and Digital Format
Yates County (NY) newspapers on microfilm and paper at all NYS locations
NYS Historic Newspapers is the web respository for over 100,000 pages of digitally formatted local newspapers. The guide General Comments and Search Examples will help you get started searching.

Yates County Surnames

Files containing newspaper clippings, genealogies, family history publications, and other contributed information on Yates families.


Materials housed in our genealogical & historical vertical files are the result of donated research from many sources and intensive volunteer efforts over a number of years. We cannot be responsible for erroneous or incomplete information. Each researcher must determine the validity and pertinence of the information regarding his or her research.

Photocopying services are available for a nominal fee. Some material may be deemed too fragile for photocopying. Materials may be kept aside for returning researchers for up to five working days. After that, unless special arrangements are made, the material will be returned to the collection.


Yates County History Center
107 Chapel Street, Penn Yan, NY 14527
Phone 315.536.7318 | Fax 315.536.0976
Email YCHC | Email Webmaster
Thursday, March 16, 2017 | Copyright © 2017