Monday, March 18, 2013

NY Times Article: Evolution of the New York Driver's License

I follow the New York Public Library Milstein Division of US History, Local History, and Genealogy on Facebook. Today they shared an article from the New York Times; "Evolution of  the New York Driver's License." I found the article interesting and to anyone researching the New Yorkers in their family, you too might find it interesting.

The first line of the article states, "New York State first began issuing paper licenses to chauffeurs in 1910..." This really grabbed my attention because, as I have blogged about in the past, I own a digital image of my Great-grandpa Charles Henry's driver's license from 1917. I did not realize that licensing driver's was such a relatively recent practice at the time Charles received that card in 1917.

The article provides images of NY State licenses from 1910 through present day with notation about the changes made over time.

I am sort of lucky that Cousin Timmy found the 1917 license because according to the article, in 1918 the first regular driver’s license, as opposed to a chauffeur's license, was offered. The regular license followed the same format of the chauffeur’s license but the regular one did not have a photo. I have a photo!!

A driver's license does not provide much genealogical information really. That is to say that it does not document a relationship. It does, however, provide an address which can be useful in genealogical research. And often it will provide a photograph. If you happen to acquire one while cleaning out the family attic, it is a gem you should hold on to.

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