The genealogy community received great news from Reclaim the Records this morning – they have obtained images of the New York State death index from 1880–1956, and are in the process of uploading them online at Internet Archive.
The NYG&B will soon have copies of these images available for members in our eLibrary – stay tuned to our blog and Facebook for more announcements on this topic.
Those of us researching New York State ancestors have long struggled with access to state death certificates from 1881 to 1956 – only a handful of repositories in New York State hold microfiche copies, but the lack of online access was detrimental to the many researchers unable to access this material in person.
Before this news, the only years of the index that were online were 1957-1967.
These new, high-resolution greyscale images have been scanned from the original vault copies by the Department of Health and are currently being uploaded, year by year, to Internet Archive.
The images will also be available to download in bulk, but users should be warned that the files are large—the entire collection is over 750 GB of images!
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Tips for Browsing
Researchers should keep in mind a few facts about New York State vital records to fully understand what is and isn’t available in this index:
New York City deaths
This index does not primarily include New York City deaths. However, you will be able to find death records before 1898 for boroughs that weren’t part of New York City until that time. See our New York State Vital Records Guide for advice on obtaining death records for New York City.
Albany, Buffalo and Yonkers deaths prior to 1914
Death records for Albany, Buffalo and Yonkers are not included for years before 1914. These records were stored locally from 1880 to 1914. See our New York State Vital Records Guide to see how to obtain records from those municipalities during this time period.
Click here to view the records currently on Internet Archive.
More about New York State Vital Records
The New York Genealogical and Biographical Society offers several other resources for learning about New York State vital records. For information about New York City vital records, NYG&B members may want to view a recording of our August 2016 webinar, NYC MUNI Vital Indexes. Harry Macy Jr. has also written a comprehensive article found in our New York Knowledge Base.
We also offer a guide, free and open to the public, to finding New York State vital records for any location and time period. NYG&B members have access to several key articles about New York State vital records (as well as substitues) in our New York Knowledge Base.