New York city vital records access: Important update

Thursday, March 8, 2018 - 1:45pm
D. Joshua Taylor

Dear Friends,

The NYG&B has been actively monitoring the situation regarding the proposed changes to access to New York's birth and death marriages originally proposed by the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene in October 2017. Today, a posting appeared from the Department which stated their approval of the amendment (postmarked March 13, 2018). While the document reflects the opinions we as a community shared, it does not make any changes to their proposed restrictions on these public records. As the amendment stands, birth records will not become public until 125 years after the event and death records will not become public until 75 years after the event.

The notice does note: 

"The Board recognizes there is a keen interest in accessing birth and death records for the sake of tracing genealogy and family health issues, as evidenced by the many comments received on the topic. The Board will therefore consider an amendment to the Health Code to allow direct descendants and other close relatives to access birth and death records before they become public."

This is not an ideal outcome for members of our community and please rest assured that the NYG&B and its allies will work together to ensure that the Board follows through on their promise to consider an amendment to allow for broader access as promised. However, we remain adamantly opposed to the closure of these public records. You can read the full note from the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene here:

The NYG&B will be determining the best methods for providing additional input to the Department as they formulate the possible amendment. We will need your help and support on this important process. To keep informed on this topic, please register for the NYG&B eNews and watch the NYG&B's blog for further details.

Thank you for your support of this important issue --



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I fought the Dept. of Health tooth-and-nail on accessibility for years as Commissioner. I even dragged them to a meeting in City Hall itself to sound them out in the issue. Not sure how helpful my successor at the Dept. of Records has been, but count me in as supportive of your efforts.
This is absurd. Why limit the release of these records after all these years of openness. No known person has ever lived to 125--why set such a stringent limit. And death records harm no one in their release. What is there to hide?
Please continue to hold the City's feet to the fire over the issue of access. Remembering the problems that arose a few years ago when the Veterans Administration condemned those who gave their lives to defend our nation before marrying and having children to lie in unmarked graves by unduly restricting the class of people able to request markers for their graves ( ), I am particularly concerned that the class of "other close relatives" not be so narrowly defined as to exclude access altogether in cases where the individual described in the record left no direct descendants and no surviving parents or siblings. At a bare minimum "other close relatives" must include all descendants of the decedent's grandparents, as well as of his or her parents. Anything less is totally unacceptable.
My mom's whole family came into NYC and lived there for a while. I'm very interested in following what happens. Why is NYC being so difficult? I don't understand.
I have been using the Nyc archives for Nancy years. Anything that changes or prevents others from access, should be considered CRIMINAL!
This is outrageous! Public information should be available to everyone, anytime in my opinion!!! I am searching for biological relatives and New York is an awful state to get info as it is. Many other states give ready access to birth/death/marriage records. I just don’t understand WHY NY is doing this!!! With DNA tests and genealogy so popular today WHY IS NY DOING THIS???