New York Vital Records and Genealogy Indexes on the Internet
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This day 97 years ago — 30 June — centuries' worth of Irish documentation was lost when the Public Record Office in the Four Courts was blown up in a battle between pro- and anti-Treaty forces. This statewide birth index was previously only available to researchers who were sitting in a small number of upstate New York public libraries, as well as the Manhattan branch of the National Archives NARA.
And even then, it was only available in an old-fashioned and difficult format, scratched-up and faded microfiche sheets. So yeah, they were technically public records, but in practice they were not public public records. Well now, thanks to our work, we can all research people in the New York State birth index whenever we want, from our own homes, for free.
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You can browse the images, download the images, re-post them to your own website, and even transcribe everything into your own database, if you want. This birth index is sorted by year, and then alphabetically by surname within each year. The town of birth is listed, although sometimes shown as an abbreviation, as is the certificate number. There are handwritten additions on many of the sheets, sometimes even notating the date of death.
Note that this index does not contain lists of births from New York City. New York City is considered to be an entirely separate vital records jurisdiction from the rest of New York state, and consequently the city has its own birth, marriage, and death indices.
However, a small number of NYC birth listings are found scattered throughout this index, either because the births happened in towns that were previously independent before the consolidation of the city in for example, a pre birth in a place like Canarsie [Brooklyn] or Flushing [Queens] might be listed here or because there was a late birth registration.
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But more on that later this year. Also note that births that took place in the cities of Albany, Buffalo, and Yonkers are not included until about or ; those three cities did not initially participate in the statewide registration of births and kept their own records. The state apparently got lazy and re-used the same certificate number on both the original birth certificates and the amended certificates, which tie together the old name and the new name.
This record set is only the index to New York State birth records. In New York State although not New York City , a birth certificate of a person who is known to be deceased and which is more than 75 years old is considered to be open and available to the public. Alternately, you can also try ordering a copy from the exact city clerk or town clerk where the birth took place.
How to order New York Birth, Marriage, Divorce and Death Certificates
This may be a lot faster than dealing with Albany, but some towns might only provide a typed extract of the information on the certificate, instead of a photocopy version. Your best bet is to try calling the town clerk first and see if they can help you. Otherwise, send the request to Albany, but be prepared to wait up to eight months.
A few of you might have noticed that commercial genealogy behemoth Ancestry. However, their image copies of these public records are, as usual, hidden behind their very expensive paywall. In comparison, all data that we at Reclaim The Records ever win or acquire is always published for free, explicitly in the public domain, and is even downloadable. As a rule, Ancestry refuses to give any credit for records sets that Reclaim The Records has targeted, acquired, and published over the past few years, even though we always share our data freely.
That whole sketchy situation is the subject of an ongoing lawsuit of ours in the Supreme Court of New York, Albany County, and you can read more about it in one of our previous newsletters.
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Dave and his team are actually helping us with four different Freedom of Information lawsuits at the moment, two of which will be launching in the next month — including our first-ever FOIA lawsuit against a federal agency. So exciting! You might be wondering: gee, those Reclaim The Records folks have now put the New York State birth index online and they recently got the New York State death index online, too. What about the New York State marriage index?
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Record Type: Birth Records. Record Physical Format: Microfiche. Number of Records Estimated : Unknown, but likely several million. Me: I read you loud and clear.
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