New York States First Major Vital Records Law
In 1847, the National Medical Convention in Philadelphia issued a call to urge state governments to begin keeping informative and accurate records of births, marriages, and deaths.
New York answered the call with An Act Providing for the Registry of Births, Marriages, and Deaths the same year.
The law directed records to be charted at the school district level, and stored with town or city clerks. As the New York Family History Research Guide and Gazetteer notes, It also required physicians and professional midwives to record births, physicians to record deaths, clergymen to record funerals and marriages, and sextons to record death and burials…For most municipalities in New York State, this 1847 law marks the date of the earliest extant vital records created systematically by the civil administration
Unfortunately, many counties in the state objected to this law, and it didnt take long for compliance to lapse once again – by 1850, the law was largely ignored in many places throughout New York State. Records generated during this period are often found with local governments or have been transcribed by various organizations and individuals.
If youre seeking records around this time period, its a good idea to start by researching the history of vital record keeping in the location of interest. Our county guides contain this information for all counties in NY state.
How Do I Obtain New York Death Records Online
Just like the telephone requests, the online requests for the New York Death Records have to be made to New York Vitalcheck. To make an online request for the aforementioned form, visit the website of Vitalcheck, and submit an online request for the record. Once you?ve submitted a request, VitalChek will send you a confirmation email asking you to verify your identity. After you submit the required documents, VitalCheck will take 1 to 2 days to process your application and provide you the death record you want
Another way to obtain death records in New York is online through public databases. To find out more about how you can obtain death records in New York, call Vital Records Division of the New York State Department of Health at 855-322-1022.
Early New York City Vital Records
Where to look and what methods to use can vary depending on the county or borough you’re looking in, as well as the exact year.
If you’re looking for a birth, marriage, or death certificate from the early 1800s or before, a good place to start is Harry Macy’s detailed New York Knowledge Base guide to New York City vital records.
This guide provides comprehensive information on locating vital records in New Netherland, colonial New York, and in the five boroughs of New York City. His suggested repositories and record sets also include many vital record substitutes for periods and locations when official city copies are unavailable.
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How To Get A Death Certificate
A death certificate is a paper that records the official date and location of a person’s death.
The funeral director usually purchases several copies for your use.
In some cases, you might need a “certified” death certificate. A certified death certificate has security features that proves that the document is genuine. Depending on the county the death certificate is from, the death certificate can have a watermark, a raised seal, micro-printing, multi-colored background, heat sensitive ink, etc. A certified death certificate is good for legal purposes such as settling an estate or claiming insurance benefits.
How Are Death Records For New York City Processed
Though its confusing, New York state does not process records for deaths that occurred within one of New York Citys five boroughs . These need to be ordered through the New York City Department of Health.
Like the New York state process, in NYC, you can complete an online application through VitalChek, order by mail, or visit an in-person office. The eligibility requirements are also similar.
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Heres What Were Fighting For Part Ii
We are trying to strike down New York Citys ridiculously restrictive new access rules to these historical materials. Were asking the judge to rule that the New York City Department of Health and Board of Health created irrational rules and exceeded their authority in making local rules and policies that are more strict than the actual state law.
Yes, NYC is empowered to have its own Department of Health, separate from the rest of the state. But if it enacts new rules, they have to be rational. If an agency passes rules that are arbitrary and capricious or ultra vires , then those rules can be stricken down by a court.
Were asking the judge to rule that these irrational new rules were passed with gross indifference to the six thousand unanimously negative public comments submitted by the genealogist and historian community, and as such should be striken and voided.
Birth Marriage And Death Certificates
Birth, marriage, and death certificates are not filed in the Broome County Clerk’s Office. They’re recorded in the City, Town or Village where the event took place.
These vital records can also be ordered online through the NYS Department of Health by visiting www.health.ny.gov/vital_records or by calling 1-877-854-4481.
Pennsylvania birth, death and marriage records can be ordered online through the Pennsylvania Department of Healths Division of Vital Records at www.health.pa.gov/topics/certificates/Pages/Vital%20Records.aspx.
The Broome County Clerk’s office does not register marriage officiants.
According to the New York State Department of Health’s website , there is no requirement for officiants to register if the marriage is performed in New York State outside of the five boroughs of New York City.
We would encourage you to contact the City, Town or Village where the marriage license was issued to see if they have any other requirements.
Their contact information is below:
Municipal Clerks in Broome County:
City of Binghamtons Registrar of Vital Statistics:
- Phone: 772-7029
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Heres The Short Version
Were suing New York City for the first-ever public access to the scanned images of ~1.6 million NYC death certificates for New Yorkers who died between 1949-1968, which is 50 to 75 years ago. These records would be open to the public if the deaths had occurred in any other county in New York State outside the city limits.
Were also suing to get the new awful rules restricting public access to historical New York City vital records thrown out by the judge.
How Do I Obtain Sealed Vital Records In New York
Persons with legal authorization can access records sealed by New York state statute or court order. Interested requestors may petition a New York licensed judge to obtain a court order or subpoena to over-turn or waive the records restriction. After receiving the order, the requesting party may query the appropriate record custodian for the record of interest. Usually, requests for sealed records require that the requestor present a government-issued ID along with the court order authorizing their access to said record.
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Responses To New York Death Records
Ive recently seen some photos of a Great Aunt, Elizabeth Caroline Gordon Cox, nee Black, who died in Brooklyn 17th Nov 1895. I have found a certificate number 20036 on Family Search. I only want to know the cause of death at age 27 because the photos show her as a good looking young woman. Vitalchek doesnt have this record. Where else could I look online? Thank you.
I am seeking information on the death of an aunt. Mary Lou Carroll was three years old when she died in 1935. She was a younger sister to my mother, Nancy Rose Carroll. I tried to fill out an application for a copy of Mary Lous death certificate but I am not a parent, sibling or child. I want the information only for family genealogy purposes. Before my mother died in August 2019 she did not know how her younger sister had died, as my mom was only six years old at the time.
Michael, we can show the basic death record information however some death record information is limited on older NY death records. there is something in particular you would like us to help you lookup from a New York death record?
The only thing I want to know is cause of death. Thank you.
Michael, our records do not show a cause of death unfortunately. You will need to resources the NY death certificate for this information and its not always listed unless there was an autopsy performed
Are New York Death Records Open To The Public
Certified New York death records are generally restricted to the deceased immediate family members. Public death records are created when fifty years have elapsed since the death. Until then, only the following persons may perform a New York death certificate search:
- The parents/legal guardian of the deceased
- The descendants of the registrant
- Persons who can prove a tangible interest in the record – i.e., have a documented claim, right, or medical need.
- Persons who a New York State Court Order authorizes.
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Early 1800s: New York City Begins Recording Some Vital Records
Not much happened during the colonial, revolutionary, or early statehood periods that caused New York as a whole to keep better track of vital records. Out of necessity, New York City began to form its own system for tracking this information. The first lists of New York City deaths were for Yellow Fever victims in 1795. But those lists only contain those who died of the epidemic, not all deaths. Beginning in 1802, the New York City Board of Health began recording burials. These can be found at the New York City Municipal Archives or accessed via microfilm at the New York Public Library and Family History Library. Some digital images may be accessed at Family History Centers.
Note that New York City at this time was only the island of Manhattan and a few other small islands, and this is only the date some burials began to be formally recorded. Coverage will vary depending on the specific location. Areas that are now a part of New York City may have started record keeping at a different time. For a thorough review of all material located at the Municipal Archives, see the New York City Municipal Archives: An Authorized Guide.
Some, but not all marriages were recorded by New York City as early as 1829, and are available at the Municipal Archives. These records are fairly scattered until closer to the mid- to late- 1800s.
Deaths From 1880 Thru 1913
Starting in June 1880, New York required that village, town, and city registrars to record deaths. Copies of these deaths were then filed with the State Department of Health. Due to earlier city laws, deaths recorded in Albany, Buffalo, and Yonkers were not copied to the State between 1881 and 1914.
Deaths in New York State
STEP ONE – Search the Index
The New York Archives as well as nine other repositories in New York hold copies of microfiche indexes to death certificates. Contact one of these ten repositories to search the index.
STEP TWO – Obtain the Certificate
With an exact date , you can order a copy of the death record for a fee from the following locations:
|To Order Death Certificates
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Order A Death Record In New York State
Ordering a certified death record doesnt have to be complicated. In New York, you can choose to order online, in person, or by mail. While online is the fastest method, it has less flexibility and is more costly. Ultimately, its up to you to determine which method is right for your needs and timeline.
Before you begin the death certificate ordering process in New York, make sure youre eligible and that you have proper documentation. From there, complete the step-by-step process described above.
If you’re a New York resident and ready to start preparing your own end-of-life planning documents, Cake has Advance Care Planning forms you can download. To help ease your planning, we have all the documents you need in one place.
How Do I Obtain New York Death Records By Mail
The first way of obtaining death records in New York is by mail. How can you make a request for and obtain New York Death Records through mail? To make a mail request for New York Death Records, complete and mail the Application for Copy of Death Certificate along with a copy of valid photo ID and 2 utility bills that have your name on them to:
New York State Department of Health Vital Records Certification Unit 800 North Pearl Street Menands, NY 12204
In addition to the aforementioned documents, mail a pay order or cheque for the fee to above-mentioned address. The fee for the record will vary depending on how you want your application to be handled. The fee for priority handling is $45 while the fee for non-priority handling is $30.
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Introduction To New York Birth Marriage And Death Records
Official birth, marriage, and death recordsalso called vital recordsare crucial family history sources that every researcher should seek.
These deep and rich sources can provide names, relationships, locations, dates of events, and other essential details about your family.
Many states in the U.S. have well-organized and complete collections of vital recordsbut not New York!
For many reasons, finding vital records in New York State can be confusing and challenging. The purpose of this guide is to help clarify:
- Where to look for vital records, which depends on the time and place of the event
- How to find the vital record certificate number
- How to locate or request a copy of the vital record
New York City Vital Records Indexes
Indexes* at the Milstein Division of U.S. History, Local History & Genealogy, The New York Public Library:
Index to NYC Births, 18661909 Index to NYC Deaths, 18881948 Marriage Indexes by Groom 18881937 and Brides 18691937
*These indexes can only be viewed in person.
In addition, collections in the Milstein Division feature alternative resources for birth, marriage, and death information, including church records, historical newspaper collections, family files, and genealogy periodicals.
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Who Is Entitled To Each Type Of Death Certificate
The following relations to the deceased may request both a death certificate and the confidential cause of death medical report:
- Informant listed on the certificate
- Person in control of disposition
The following relations may only request a death certificate, not the cause of death:
- Great grandchild and great-great grandchild
If you are not listed above as an entitled party, you must document your right to get a death certificate. See instructions below.
If you are an attorney who has been retained by an entitled party, follow the instructions below.
How To Access New York Public Records
Open FOIL NY is the place to start when you need copies of public records. The state of New York has set up a dedicated website to serve the public, and more than 55 government agencies take part in this initiative. If one of those offices is where you need records, then the process is easy. Simply follow the steps below.
- Visit the FOIL NY website.
- Fill out the form. Be sure to select the government agency you wish to pull records from.
- Pay the fees.
- Submit the form and await a response.
If the records you require are not on the FOIL NY website, you can visit the government agency in person to request them.
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Deaths From 1957 Thru 1963
Death records from 1957 thru 1963 are held by the village, town, or city clerk where the death took place and the Department of Health. The New York Department of Health has also created an online index for many deaths taking place between 1957 and 1963.
STEP ONE – Search the Index
|Free covers 1 January 1957 thru 28 February 1963 spreadsheet with sortable columns. To learn more about the village/town/city codes, see this New York State Gazetteer. Also available at the New York State Health Department and MyHeritage.com.
|The New York Archives as well as nine other repositories in New York hold copies of microfiche indexes to death certificates. Contact one of these ten repositories to search the index.
|May be less expensive and faster than ordering from the state
|Individual clerks may not be aware of state laws regarding record availability
|Offers a standard search covering 1-3 years with additional years with the option to increase the number of years searched for an additional fee
|May take more than eight months to fulfill a request
S: New York City Vital Certificates Officially Begin
In 1866 the New York City Metropolitan Board of Health was created – this marks the official beginning of civil birth, marriage, and death certificates in New York City and Brooklyn .
In general, compliance was better from this point on in New York City history researchers seeking certificates after this time period can be relatively more hopeful. In general, the New York City Municipal Archives will have records from Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island beginning around this general time periodstill, researchers investigating events that occurred before the 1898 consolidation should explore repositories local to the borough/town as well.
For available indexes to New York City vital records , see the New York City section of our online guide to finding birth, marriage, and death records in New York.
A Brooklyn marriage certificate from 1898.
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