by Lauren Maehrlein
Prepared August 2011
© 2011 The New York Genealogical and Biographical Society
All rights reserved.
One of the primary questions in New York genealogical research is, “Where do I find vital records?” New York State didn’t require local governments to provide vital record data to the State until 1880, so previous to that date the best place to look is at the local level – either in town halls or religious institutions. If the information you need is post-1880, odds are good you’ll find your record at the state level.
The New York State Vital Records Index, which covers the years 1881-1961 for deaths and marriages, and 1880-1936 for births, is available on microfiche at the following ten repositories in New York:
New York State Archives, Albany, Albany County
Broome County Public Library, Binghamton, Broome County
Buffalo & Erie County Public Library, Buffalo, Erie County
Steele Memorial Library, Elmira, Chemung County
Crandall Public Library, Glens Falls, Warren County
National Archives—Northeast Region, New York, New York County (Manhattan)
Patchogue-Medford Library, Patchogue, Suffolk County
Rochester Public Library, Rochester, Monroe County
Onondaga County Public Library, Syracuse, Onondaga County
Flower Memorial Library, Watertown, Jefferson County
It is important to remember that vital records for New York City and the former city of Brooklyn (now Kings County) are not included in this index. Birth records through 1909, marriages through 1937, and deaths through 1948 for these locations are held at the New York City Municipal Archives
at 31 Chambers Street in Manhattan.
Please see Harry Macy's invaluable and very detailed article
on New York City Vital Records for 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 for 1881-1897 may be found through the NYS Department of Health; for 1898 through the cutoff dates shown above, records for these boroughs may be found at the Municipal Archives.
Additionally, the cities of Buffalo, Albany, and Yonkers maintained their own records until 1915. Albany does not have vital records for those cities pre-1915, so researchers need to contact the respective city:
For More 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, please 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.
© 2011 The NewYork Genealogical and Biographical Society. All rights reserved.