Columbia County Genealogy Collections

What’s Free To View On FamilySearch

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Throughout the years I have have spent time refining my research techniques and strategies. One of the initial, basic steps involves organizing record collections that are available online versus those only available in physical repositories. Through this post, I thought I would explain one of the ways to utilize the FamilySearch catalog, using Columbia County genealogy collections as a model.

FamilySearch’s place name catalog search (see screen shot below) is a great way to find records. Selecting the “online” availability option will assist in finding records that you can view on your computer.

However, I do find the search results frustrating at times. Particularly when I click on a collection that is included in the search results and the restricted view icon appears (camera and key symbol shown below). If you click on this icon, it leads you to instructions concerning restricted access (“Images Available” statement below).

As I write this post, the FamilySearch affiliate libraries are temporarily closed to the public due to the COVID-19 pandemic. So even if you are in proximity of one of these libraries, the collections cannot be researched at this time.

To refine the catalog results, I compiled a list of links to FamilySearch collections that can actually be viewed on your home computer. It’s not a total and comprehensive list of all free Columbia County records that are available on the site. Based on my research experience, I have chosen the collections that I thought would serve the largest audience of researchers.

Perhaps this filtering of available collections will help, whether you are new to using FamilySearch, or if your research efforts need a little boost!

A couple of research notes:

In order to use the FamilySearch website, you need to create an account, which is free.

Some of the collections are browsable only (they are not electronically indexed). In the case of browse-only collections, I have included the image number(s) you need to jump to in order to view the pertinent records.

Only a few issues of the genealogy journal The Columbia are available digitally through FamilySearch (1985 and part of 1986). Many of the transcribed records included in the journal are a part of larger microfilmed collections, split up over several issues/multiple years. This means that not all transcribed information found digitally is necessarily complete for any particular collection.

Some final notes…

I hope that the compiled list of genealogy links below helps with your research. The links are arranged in categories very similar to those you see on FamilySearch.

Remember to bookmark this page for future reference, and be sure to let me know if you make any family history discoveries!

Interested in getting involved with an online community of Columbia County family history researchers? If so, you should consider joining the Columbia County New York Genealogy Facebook Group.

If you have any questions about the collections you find through the links in this post, send me an email inquiry.

Also, please feel free to send me an inquiry if you need further assistance with your research. My genealogy services include providing research advice through hourly coaching sessions, as well as conducting traditional research projects.

FamilySearch Links

Bible Records

Cemetery Gravestone Inscriptions

Census Records and Tax Lists

Federal census records between 1790 and 1940 are available on FamilySearch for free (except for most of the 1890 census which was destroyed by fire). The federal census records do, of course, include Columbia County, but I’m just including New York State census links here. This list also contains a couple of early tax lists.

1779 Tax List: Claverack District – The Columbia

1801 Chatham Roads Tax List – The Columbia

1855 New York State Census

1865 New York State Census

1875 New York State Census

1905 New York State Census

1915 New York State Census

1925 New York State Census

Church Records


1871-1872, Gazetteer and business directory of Columbia County

1880-1881, Lawrence & Co’s Columbia County directory 

Family Papers

Wilson Family Papers, 1790-1859 – The Columbia:

This is a list of individuals included in the collection, who were authors of letters or those who signed documents. There is no particular alphabetical or chronological arrangement. Although transcriptions of the list in later issues do seem to have some sort of alphabetical order.

Genealogies/Biographical Sketches

American ancestry : giving the name and descent, in the male line, of Americans whose ancestors settled in the United States previous to the Declaration of Independence, A.D., 1776 – This 12-volume set published in the 1880s highlights Columbia County in volume 2 and is arranged alphabetically by surname.

Brown Family: A newsletter from the Brown Family Genealogical Society. This newsletter includes some information on Brown family members in Columbia County.


Columbia County at the end of the century : a historical record of its formation and settlement, its resources, its institutions, its industries, and its people

History of Columbia County, New York : with illustrations and biographical sketches of some of its prominent men and pioneers

Land Records

Deed records, 1772-1925

  • Original Deed Index Ledgers (divided by grantee and grantor), 1772-1925
  • Original Deeds, 1786-1900

FamilySearch is in the midst of a multi-year indexing project for all New York State land records. As of December 2020, Columbia County records have not been electronically indexed. However, there are digital copies of the original handwritten index ledgers.


1873, Atlas of Columbia County New York

Naturalization Records

1916-1932 Naturalization Records: This collection is a part of the larger, New York State naturalization collection available on FamilySearch.

Probate Records

The Probate Record collection contains:

This collection is currently not electronically indexed on FamilySearch. However there are digital copies of the original handwritten will index ledgers.

An easier option is to use the SAMPUBCO website (short for Samuelsen Publishing Company) to conduct an electronic search of Columbia County will indexes.

Most, but not all, of the FamilySearch probate records are also on Ancestry, in their New York Wills and Probate collection. So, if you have an Ancestry subscription that is your best bet for searching the broadest possible set of probate records available online.

1788-1966Index to Wills and Letters
1787-1904Letters Testamentary
1802-1898Guardian Bonds & Papers
1822-1920Minutes of Court Proceedings
1827-1880Administration Papers
1830-1880Estate Papers
1880-1939Index to the Surrogate Court’s Probate Records
1880-1901Decrees on Settlements of Accounts
1890-1903Administration Bonds

Vital Records

1847-1848 Austerlitz marriage records – The Columbia:

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