Finding New York Birth, Marriage, and Death Records

Birth, marriage, and death records offer important clues to anyone researching their family history. These vital records can provide dates, relationships, and other essential details to your research.

What you need to know about NYS vital records

There are several important facts all researchers should know about locating vital records in New York State.

The State of New York did not require local governments to report births, marriages, and deaths until 1880 legislation. 

Therefore, while information relating to births, marriages, and deaths before 1880 might be found at the local level - these events were often not recorded. Religious records and other private materials often provide evidence of a birth, marriage, or death and are thus key substitutes for tracing New York vital records.

The NYG&B's eLibrary contains religious records from across the state of New York, which document births, marriages, and deaths before 1881.

A few notable exceptions exist for accessing vital records in Albany, Buffalo, New York City (and its five boroughs), and Yonkers.

This guide includes the following sections:


 

Accessing New York Vital Records, 1880-1961

For New York (outside of New York City, Albany, and Buffalo) after 1880 you can do the following: 

  • Step 1: Search the New York State Vital Records Index
  • Step 2: Request the Record

Step 1: Search the New York State Vital Records Index

For events occurring after 1880, the New York State Vital Records Index covers deaths and marriages from 1880 to 1961 and births from 1880 to 1936. This index does not include records from New York City and the former city of Brooklyn (now Kings County).

This index is not currently online (although images of the death index were recently digitized and brought online), but is available on microfiche at the following ten repositories in New York:

  1. New York State Archives, Albany, Albany County
  2. Broome County Public Library, Binghamton, Broome County
  3. Buffalo & Erie County Public Library, Buffalo, Erie County
  4. Steele Memorial Library, Elmira, Chemung County
  5. Crandall Public Library, Glens Falls, Warren County
  6. National Archives—Northeast Region, New York, New York County (Manhattan)
  7. Patchogue-Medford Library, Patchogue, Suffolk County
  8. Rochester Public Library, Rochester, Monroe County
  9. Onondaga County Public Library, Syracuse, Onondaga County
  10. Flower Memorial Library, Watertown, Jefferson County
  11. Utica Public Library, Utica, Oneida County

If you are unable to visit one of the repositories above, the NYG&B's research services can conduct a search of the New York State Vital Records Index for a small fee. 

There are particular exceptions to his rule for the records of New York City, Albany, Buffalo, and Yonkers.

Step 2: Request the Record

Once you have retrieved information about the record you are seeking, you can then contact the New York State Department of Health or the local registrar or municipal clerk to obtain a copy of the original record. Please note that requests to the New York State Department of Health can take at least eight months to process, while requests through a local registrar or municipal clerk are often answered within a shorter time-frame, but may not have all the information found on the state record.

Contacting the New York State Department of Health

The New York State Department of Health will provide uncertified copies (for genealogical research) in the following instances:

  • Birth certificates - if on file for at least 75 years and the person whose name is on the birth certificate is known to be deceased.

  • Death certificates - if on file for at least 50 years.

  • Marriage certificates - if on file for at least 50 years and both spouses are known to be deceased.

Access to records after the timeframes noted above can be made available for direct line descendants, providing that the following information is provided:

  • Proof of their relationship to the person whose record they are requesting.

  • Proof of the death of the person whose birth certificate they are requesting.

  • Proof of the death of both spouses whose marriage certificate they are requesting.

Requests can take eight months or longer to complete. 

The fee for a genealogy copy is $22.00, which includes a copy of the certificate and a three-year search of the index. Additional fees apply to search more years as follows:

1 to 3 years

$22.00

4 to 10 years

$42.00

11 to 20 years

$62.00

21 to 30 years

$82.00

31 to 40 years

$102.00

41 to 50 years

$122.00

51 to 60 years

$142.00

61 to 70 years

$162.00

71 to 80 years

$182.00

81 to 90 years

$202.00

 

Next, fill out the online form and send a completed copy by mail to: 

New York State Department of Health
Vital Records Section
Genealogy Unit
P.O. Box 2602
Albany, NY 12220-2602

 

Contacting the Local Registrar or Municipal Clerk

The NYG&B's county guides provide the details for many municipal officers and other repositories that can assist you with your vital records search. 

Requesting copies of birth, marriage, and death records from the local registrar or municipal clerk is often more expedient.


 

Notable Exceptions: Albany, Buffalo, and Yonkers

 

Albany Vital Records

Please note that the New York State Department of Health does not hold records for births, marriages, and deaths before January 1, 1914.

Birth and death records (before January 1, 1914) for Albany can be obtained by contacting the Local Registrar:

Local Registrar
City of Albany
Room 254M
City Hall
Albany, NY 12207

Marriage records (before January 1, 1914) for Albany can be obtained by contacting the City Clerk:

City Clerk
City of Albany
Room 202
City Hall
Albany, NY 12207

 

Buffalo Vital Records

The New York State Department of Health does not hold records for births, marriages, and deaths before January 1, 1914.

Birth and death records (before January 1, 1914) for Buffalo can be obtained by contacting the Local Registrar:

Local Registrar
City of Buffalo
Room 1308
65 Niagara Square
Buffalo, NY 14202

Marriage records (before January 1, 1914) for Buffalo can be obtained by contacting the City Clerk:

City Clerk
City of Buffalo
Room 1308
65 Niagara Square
Buffalo, NY 14202

 

Yonkers Vital Records

The New York State Department of Health does not hold records for births, marriages, and deaths before January 1, 1914.

Birth and death records (before January 1, 1914) for Yonkers can be obtained by contacting the Local Registrar:

City Clerk
City of Yonkers
Room 107
City Hall
Yonkers, NY 10701

Marriage records (before January 1, 1914) for Yonkers can be obtained by contacting the City Clerk:

City Clerk
City of Yonkers
Room 107
City Hall
Yonkers, NY 10701


 

New York City Vital Records

Noted expert Harry Macy's detailed article on New York City vital records provides information on locating vital records in New Netherland, Colonial New York, and in the five boroughs of New York City before and since unification. 

Prior to the City's 1898 consolidation, the boroughs of Staten Island (now Richmond County) and Queens, as well as parts of the Bronx were not part of New York City. Records for these boroughs between 1881 and 1897 may be accessed through the New York State Department of Health. Birth records through 1909, marriages through 1930, and deaths through 1948 for these locations are held at the New York City Municipal Archives at 31 Chambers Street in Manhattan.

A number of indexes to New York City's birth, marriage, and death indexes are available online including:

NYG&B members may wish to watch the recorded webinar NYC MUNI Vital Indexes from August 2016.

Please note: The New York State Department of Health does have birth records from the boroughs of Queens and Richmond between 1881 and 1897.


 

Recent Records

For Vital Records that were produced after the dates provided by the New York State Vital Records Index or the New York Municipal Archives, contact the Board of Health or the City Clerk’s (City Registrar’s) Office of the city in which the event took place.

Due to privacy restrictions, inquiries may need to be accompanied by identification and proof of relationship to the individual(s) in question.