A. E. Jordan
In a message dated 6/24/2013 10:49:48 A.M. Eastern Daylight Time,
Debby Painter asked how "to get a copy of the will or at the very
least, have someone read it so I can get the names of the inheritors."
I don't know what the date is of this record - it makes a difference in
Brooklyn... but I will give some general comments. I will be giving a
whole presentation on this topic at the Conference in Boston in August.
(Thursday morning if you want to see me.)
Someone already pointed out that the older probate records for Brooklyn are
scanned and on the FamilySearch.org site. Newer records >from the 1920s on
(plus the older ones) are all stored in the basement at the Brooklyn Court
House. (2 Johnson St. Brooklyn, NY 11201). Only the fairly recent
records are scanned and on the computers at the Court House.
I do this research going to the court house for people. You have to get
the file number >from the index and then fill out a request slip and in about
30 minutes or so they will bring the file to a desk where you can go through
it. You are free to read it and take notes. (The last time I went the
clerks were out sick so there was no one to do the retrievals that day ....
so you might want to call before you go.)
They have two rickety photocopies (one was broken the last time I was
there) in the room in Brooklyn and they are often monopolized by the
professional researchers and lawyers who are doing work there. They are coin
operated and last time the dollar bill reader was not working. I had my iPad
along and I asked the clerk and they had no objection to me taking pictures of
the documents. (I assume you could do it with any cell phone camera too
--- but you **cannot** take a camera digital or otherwise into the court house.
Go figure but that is how security works.)
At the court house (I will be showing examples in my presentation in
Boston) there is a card index to all the files both probate and administration.
It helps if you know the year the person died (especially if it is a
common name) because the index mostly just has names and dates. Only a few
cards have addresses and that's all you get to identify the person in the
index. Some records are on the computers as well but that is only newer
In Boston I will be showing why it is worth the effort to do Probate Research.
It's a little more work than some files but it can be extremely rewarding with
details you don't know about the family .... or if you get really lucky you
might even find the family tree.