Research: Topics: Genealogy

Birth, Marriage, and Death Records

Introduction

New York began statewide registration of births, marriages, and deaths ("vital records") in 1880-81, under supervision of the State and local boards of health. Compliance with the law was incomplete until 1913 or even later; therefore certificates are lacking for many events.

Several of the State's larger cities recorded vital events for varying periods of time prior to 1880; see below for more information. An 1847 law required the school districts in each town to collect vital statistics. They ceased doing so after a few years. (The State Archives and State Department of Health hold no records created under the 1847 law.)

Vital Records Indexes

The State Department of Health makes available for public use microfiche copies of older indexes to birth, marriage, and death certificates.

  • The indexes cover the entire state outside of New York City and start in June 1880 (deaths) or 1881 (marriages and births).
  • Birth indexes are made available after 75 years, marriage and death indexes after 50 years. Birth indexes have been made available through 1937 only.
  • An index entry states only the name of the person, date and place of event, and State certificate number. Indexes for certain years are arranged by SOUNDEX codes.
  • The data in the indexes is not available in electronic format, except for death indexes made available for download from the State Department of Health. These datasets start in 1957 and are posted after 50 years. Data elements include year/date of death, decedent name, gender, residence code, and state file number.
  • The State Archives also holds an index to “delayed” birth certificates filed for some births occurring prior to 1881 [series B2029], mostly in the 1870s.

Scope of Indexes:

  • The DOH indexes do not include vital events in New York City and in the former city of Brooklyn for any period. The Vitalsearch Company has posted New York City vital records index data, available for a fee.
  • The indexes do include vital events in the former towns of Kings County prior to their annexation by the City of Brooklyn in the 1880s and '90s; in portions of Westchester County prior to their annexation by New York City in 1895; and in Richmond County (Staten Island) and the western portion of Queens County prior to their incorporation into the City of New York, January 1, 1898.
  • The indexes do not include births and deaths in Albany, Buffalo, and Yonkers prior to 1914, or marriages in those cities prior to 1908. (Contact the local registrar of vital statistics in those cities for information about earlier records.)
  • The birth indexes do not include original data for adopted infants.
  • The birth and death indexes do include data on individuals who were born or died in a state facility (such as a prison or mental hospital).

Copies of the micro fiche index to vital records certificates held by the NYS Department of Health are located at the following locations:

  1. ALBANY. New York State Archives, Cultural Education Center, Empire State Plaza, Albany 12230. Available Monday through Friday, 9:00-4:30, and Saturday, 9:30-4:30 except State holidays. No appointment is needed to use the indexes. Researchers must produce identification, sign a registration form, and comply with the rules of the research room. Several microfiche readers are available for use, however, researchers will be limited to one hour's use of a microfiche reader, if other persons are waiting to use the readers.
  2. BINGHAMTON. Broome County Public Library—185 Court Street, Binghamton, NY 13901; telephone (607) 778-6400.
  3. BUFFALO. Buffalo & Erie County Public Library, Grosvenor Room, 1 Lafayette Square, Buffalo, NY 14203; telephone (716) 858-8900.
  4. ELMIRA. Steele Memorial Library—101 East Church Street, Elmira, NY 14901; telephone (607) 733-8603.
  5. GLENS FALLS. Crandall Public Library, Center for Folklife, History & Cultural Programs—251 Glen Street, Glens Falls, NY 12801; telephone (518) 792-6508.
  6. NEW YORK CITY. National Archives at New York City, One Bowling Green, New York, NY 10004; telephone (212) 401-1620, email newyork.archives@nara.gov.
  7. PATCHOGUE. Patchogue-Medford Library—54 E. Main Street, Patchogue, NY 11772; telephone (631) 654-4700.
  8. ROCHESTER. Rochester Public Library--115 South Avenue, Rochester, NY 14604; telephone (585) 428-8440.
  9. SYRACUSE. Onondaga County Public Library, 447 South Salina Street, Syracuse, NY 13202; telephone (315) 435-1900.
  10. UTICA. Utica Public Library—303 Genesee Street, Utica, NY 13501; telephone (315) 735-2279.
  11. WATERTOWN. Flower Memorial Library—229 Washington Street, Watertown, NY 13601; telephone (315) 785-7705.

Transcription, reproduction, loan, or sale of the indexes is not permitted. The data in the indexes is not available in electronic format for on-line access, with the few exceptions mentioned above.

Sources of Birth, Marriage, and Death Certificates

  • The New York State Archives does not hold birth, marriage, and death certificates, only indexes to them.
  • The State Department of Health and local registrars of vital statistics are authorized to furnish uncertified copies of vital records for genealogical purposes.
  • Data on living persons is restricted by law. Contact DOH or a local registrar for application forms and general information.

Statewide (except cities noted below):

Birth, marriage, and death certificates for New York State (except New York City) are held by:

New York State Department of Health
Vital Records Section
PO Box 2602
Albany, NY 12220-2602
(518) 474-3077

Requests for genealogy copies of birth, marriage, and death certificates held by the New York State Department of Health may be dropped off at the New York State Archives or at:

New York State Department of Health
Vital Records Section
800 North Pearl St. (2nd Floor)
Menands, NY 12204

Local registrars of vital statistics (town, village, city, or consolidated county district) hold registers of births, marriages, and deaths or for recent decades, duplicate certificates.

New York City:

The New York City Municipal Archives holds vital records for the five boroughs:

Manhattan

Births: July 1847-48, July 1853-1909
Deaths: 1795, 1802-04, 1808, 1812-1948
Marriages: June 1847-48, July 1853-1937

*Includes records for western Bronx, 1874-97, and eastern Bronx, 1895-97.

Brooklyn

Births: 1898-1909
Deaths: 1847-53, 1857-1948
Marriages: 1866-1937

*Pre-1898 records are for Brooklyn city only. Records for former towns in Kings County usually commence 1880-81; some of those towns have vital records for the later 1840s.

Bronx, Queens, Staten Island*

Births: 1898-1909
Deaths: 1898-1948
Marriages: 1898-1937

*There are scattered earlier records for towns and villages prior to their incorporation into New York City in 1898. Long Island City records start in 1871.

For further information contact:

New York City Municipal Archives
31 Chambers Street (Room 103)
New York, NY 10007
(212) 639-9675

For more recent birth and death records, contact:

New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene
Office of Vital Records
125 Worth Street, CN4, Room 133
New York, NY 10013
(212) 639-9775

Post-1937 marriage records are held by the borough offices of the New York City Clerk. For addresses of borough offices, contact:

New York City Clerk’s Office
New York City Marriage Bureau
Municipal Building (Room 252)
1 Centre Street
New York, NY 10007
(212) 639-9775
New York City Marriage Bureau

Other Official Vital Records in Upstate Cities and Counties:

Some upstate cities began recording some vital events a few years prior to 1880: Albany, Binghamton, Buffalo, Elmira, Newburgh, Poughkeepsie, Rochester, Syracuse, Utica, and Yonkers. For further information contact the city clerk's office. Some county clerks hold marriage records for the period ca. 1908-35.

Bibliography

Estelle M. Guzik, ed., Genealogical Resources in the New York, 2d ed. New York: 2003. [Contains detailed information on available New York City vital records.]

New York State Department of Health. New York State Gazetteer. Albany: 1995. [Official listing of towns, cities, villages, and hamlets, giving the local registration districts in which they are located. Gazetteer does not contain addresses and phone numbers of local registrars of vital statistics. Contact telephone directory assistance for phone numbers.]

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Social Security Administration. Social Security Death Index. [Index to claims for Social Security death benefits; available online at http://www.ancestry.com/search/rectype/vital/ssdi/main.htm.

U.S. Work Projects Administration. Historical Records Survey. Guide to Public Vital Statistics Records in New York State (Including New York City), 3 vols. Albany: 1942.

Guide to Vital Statistics in the City of New York . . . Churches, 5 vols. New York: 1942.

Guide to Vital Statistics Records of Churches in New York State (Exclusive of New York City), 2 vols. Albany: 1942.

Marriage Bonds

Prior to 1784 couples intending to marry were required to obtain licenses from and file bonds with the provincial secretary, if the impending marriage was not announced in a church. These Marriage Bonds (A1893) were mostly destroyed in the 1911 State Capitol fire. Published abstracts are available in Names of Persons for Whom Marriage Licenses Were Issued by the Secretary of the Province of New York, Previous to 1784 (Albany: 1860; repr. with supplements 1984); and in New York Marriage Bonds, 1753-1783, comp. Kenneth Scott (New York: 1972).

Contact us for further information on holdings and services of the New York State Archives.

 

Updated December 2013