Essential Reading: Vital Records

Finding New York Birth, Marriage, and Death Records

Are you confused about how to locate your New York ancestor's birth, marriage, or death record? New York has a unique record-keeping history. This guide offers instructions on where to look for records based on year and region (both at on-site repositories and in online databases) and how to retrieve copies of certificates. Links to region-specific vital records guides appear in this broader guide as well. Read the guide.

New York Vital Records Timeline: Key dates that impact your research

This guide will provide you with the tools to prepare your New York vital records research plan. New York's vital record-keeping processes have changed many times over the years. It can be challenging to know where to look for records. Successful research begins with a research plan - and it'll save you from a big headache! This guide will discuss in detail where and how to locate pre-1664 records (Dutch colonial era), 1665 - early 1800s records (English and early American), early 1800s - 1864 (inaugural New York City record-keeping practices), and 1880 onward (the unofficial start of modern record-keeping). Read the article

New York Divorce Records for Genealogy Research

Do you think, or know, that your ancestor received a legal divorce? This guide will describe how to locate potential New York divorce records, dependent on the region and era. Although not technically a vital record, they reflect a significant event in an ancestor's life that prompts a legal record like birth, marriage, and death. Divorce records are court cases in New York State and have been handled by various New York courts over the years. This guide describes the historical timeline of divorce law in New York, from divorce in Colonial New York to today, and also provides tips for finding the record you seek. Read the article.

Essential Steps to Find a New York State Marriage Record

Marriage records can include heaps of valuable information about ancestors; place of birth, witnesses, and parents' names might all appear. For immigrant ancestors, a New York marriage record could be the ticket to a brick-wall breakthrough. This guide will provide you with the tools to locate your ancestor's civil marriage record (if it exists at all). Learn where to access online databases via FamilySearch and Findmypast or how to order records through the New York State Department of Health (the central repository for NY State vital records). Read the article.

Why you need to have your ancestor's New York death certificate

Often the last legal record in an ancestor's life, a death certificate can provide essential and fascinating information about their life. Their cause of death, parents' names, place of birth, and next of kin are often listed. Logistics related to ordering copies of certificates are discussed in detail. If, in the end, your ancestor's New York death certificate cannot be found, don't fret; religious records and obituaries can provide valuable death information as well. Read the article.