Research


New York State Department of State Registers of State, County, and City Appointed and Elected Officials

Held by the New York State Archives


Overview of the Records

Repository:

New York State Archives

New York State Education Department

Cultural Education Center

Albany, NY 12230

Summary:
This series consists of bound volumes listing appointments of state elected officials, including judges but excluding members of the Legislature.The appointment abstracts provide the name of the office, appointee's name, date of appointment and occasionally term of office.
Creator:
Title:
Quantity:
6 cubic feet (9 volumes) Copies: 1 microfilm reel; 35 mm
Inclusive Dates:
1784-1932
Bulk Dates:
1804-1932
Series Number:
A1848

Arrangement

Chronological by groups of years, then geographical by county and statewide offices, then by type of office, then chronological by date of election or appointment.

Administrative History

Between 1777 and 1822 the Council of Appointment (governor and four senators chosen by the Assembly) appointed individuals to almost all non-elective offices throughout the state. After the ratification of the 1821 constitution in 1822, the council was abolished and starting in 1823 its appointive powers were vested in the governor, whose nominations had to be confirmed by the Senate. Under the constitution of 1846, many more offices, both state and county, were made elective, including almost all judges. The constitution of 1894 reversed the trend, reducing the number of elective offices on the state level.

The abstracts of appointments by the Council of Appointment were filed in the secretary of state's office pursuant to Chapter 12 of the Laws of 1778, which named the secretary of state the clerk of the Council of Appointment. Under the constitution of 1821, appointments of "civil officers" by the governor with the advice and consent of the Senate were to be recorded by the secretary of state pursuant to the Revised Statutes (1829), Part I, Chap. 5, Art. 2, sect. 14. This requirement was continued by Laws of 1883, Chap. 285, Laws of 1892, Chap. 681 (Public Officers Law), and the Consolidated Laws of 1909, Chap. 51 (Public Officers Law, sect. 7). The secretary of state was required to record the names of county officers by Laws of 1896, Chap. 909 (Election Law), and the Consolidated Laws of 1909, Chap. 22 (Election Law, sect. 444).

Scope and Content Note

This series consists of bound volumes containing lists of state elected officials, including judges (starting 1848 most were elected) but excluding members of the Legislature; and officials appointed pursuant to general state laws on the state, county, and city levels.

Volume 1 was commenced in 1804, but it contains entries for numerous civil appointments back to 1784. Volumes 1-5 include a record of statewide elected officials and of civil appointments made by the Council of Appointment (1804-1822). Volumes 6 through 8 include a record of appointments by the governor with the advice and consent of the Senate (1823-1880 only, with one exception noted below) and of county elected and appointed officials (1883-1924). (Volume 8 contains references to a "new book" of abstracts of appointments of state officers; this volume is apparently lost.) Volume 9 contains a record of elected and appointed county officials (1925-1932). The abstracts of appointments of state officers contain only civil appointments except for occasional lists of appointments to the governor's military staff.

The abstracts of appointments provide the name of the office, appointee's name, date of appointment and occasionally term of office. Before 1847 the only statewide elective offices were governor and lieutenant governor. Other state offices with executive responsibilities, such as secretary of state, comptroller, attorney general, district attorneys, surveyor general, canal appraisers, prison inspectors, notaries, Indian agents, etc., were appointive. Before 1848, state officers with judicial responsibilities, including chancellor and vice-chancellors, masters and examiners in chancery, and justices of the Supreme Court, were likewise appointive. Starting 1847 more statewide executive offices were elective. They included governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, comptroller, treasurer, attorney general, canal commissioners, state engineer and surveyor, and inspectors of state prisons. Starting 1896 the elective statewide officers were reduced in number, to include governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, comptroller, treasurer, attorney general, and state engineer and surveyor.

During the nineteenth century many appointive state offices were established, whose appointees and dates of appointment are listed in volumes 1-8. They included managers or trustees of state institutions and commissioners for special purposes (such as supervising charitable institutions, examining immigrants disembarking at New York City, etc.). The volumes contain no lists of elected and appointed state officials after 1880, with the exception of railroad policemen (listed for the years 1863-1914, giving name of railroad).

Volumes 1 through 9 also contain lists of local officers appointed by the Council of Appointment (1784-1822) or by the governor with advice and consent of the Senate (starting 1823), of elected county officers (starting 1847), and of elected judges (starting 1848, entries in these volumes through 1873 only, omitting judges of the Court of Appeals). Each entry provides the name of the official and date of election or appointment.

Before 1848 the appointive county officers included judges and assistant justices of the court of common pleas and court of sessions, county clerk, sheriff, coroner, surrogate, auctioneer, etc. Appointive city officers included mayor, recorder, marshal, clerk, etc. Before 1823 the volumes contain the names of individuals listed in "general commissions" for the offices of county judge and justices, surrogate, clerk, and justices of the peace for each town and city. Such commissions were issued every few years, corresponding to changes in the political composition of the Council of Appointment. There were also special commissions of judges and justices of the peace to fill vacancies. (Between 1823 and 1827 justices of the peace were selected by the county board of supervisors, and starting 1827 they were elected.)

Starting 1848 many more county offices were elective, and the incumbents are listed in registers 6 through 9. They included county court judge, justices of sessions, surrogate, children's court judge (outside New York City, starting 1922), district attorney, sheriff, coroner, clerk, treasurer, superintendent of the poor (later called commissioner of public welfare), and school commissioner (1857-1911). Also listed are individuals appointed as county attorney, commissioner of the U.S. Deposit Fund (1837-1911), and other offices in counties and cities. The appointive offices in New York City were especially numerous, most of them unique to that jurisdiction. Examples are the various officials responsible for port operations, such as harbor masters and Hell Gate pilots. Volumes 1 through 7 contain lists of appointed inspectors of many types of commodities (grain, lumber, potash, etc.) in cities and counties.

Throughout the registers there are occasional notes stating that an official resigned or was deceased. (In the earlier volumes that is indicated by red ink.) In such cases there may also be a note that an elected official was replaced by special appointment by the governor (until a special or regular election for that office was held).

Use of Records

Access Restrictions

Microfilm is not available for duplication or inter-library loan.

Alternate Formats Available

Microfilmed in part in 1973 at the Department of State by the Genealogical Society of Utah, microfilm reel 947120 (item 1) (volume 7, 1854-1873). Cataloged by the GSU as "State and County Appointments, 1854-1873."

Related Information

Related Materials

Series A1852 Record of commissions by the Governor and the Senate, contains related records

Series B0021 List of county and state officers elected, contains related records.

Other finding aids

Each volume contains an index to types of offices (except for Volume 5), generally organized by office and then by county or by state.

Processing Information

This series was formerly titled, "Abstract of civil appointments."

Access Terms

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Detailed Description

Dates Contents Box Volume Roll

Accretion: A1848-78
1784-1807 Registers of state, county, and city appointed and elected officials 1 1
1808-1812 Registers of state, county, and city appointed and elected officials 1 2
1813-1815 Registers of state, county, and city appointed and elected officials 1 3
1816-1820 Registers of state, county, and city appointed and elected officials 2 4
1821-1822 Registers of state, county, and city appointed and elected officials 2 5
1823-1854 Registers of state, county, and city appointed and elected officials 3 6
1854-1873 Registers of state, county, and city appointed and elected officials 4 7 1
1870-1925 Registers of state, county, and city appointed and elected officials 5 8
1925-1932 Registers of state, county, and city appointed and elected officials 6 9