New York City Municipal Archives: The Largest Collection Of Nyc Vital Records
In general, researchers can find vital records from the following time periods at the Municipal Archives:
- Birth certificates: 18471909
- Death certificates: 18471948
A more detailed listing of availability can be found in the Municipal Archives List of Holdings on the DORIS website.
Coverage dates don’t necessarily apply to all pre-consolidation municipalities . For significantly greater detail by town and village pre-consolidation, see the New York City Municipal Archives: An Authorized Guide for Family Historians.
To retrieve a copy of a certificate, the most important piece of information a researcher should have is the certificate number. Certificate numbers can be found by locating the name of the individual in a vital records index.
Most indexes contain little more than basic details about the event and the certificate number, with the notable exception of Ancestry’s new indexes, which debuted in February 2020.
Records in these new collections are really far more than just indexesa lot of valuable information has been extracted from each certificate and is available to view online. Read our blog about Ancestry’s new New York City vital records for more information.
See the list below for some of the most useful online indexes to New York City birth, marriage, and death records.
All About New York City Marriage Records
In the early 20th century there were two different sets of marriage records kept in New York City, and they each had their own index.
The better-known NYC marriage records are the two-page Health Department marriage certificates, which run from the late 19th century through 1937. You can view the images of those certificates on microfilm at the NYC Municipal Archives building in lower Manhattan, or you can order copies of specific certificates from the Archives through a form on their website. Images of those certificates are also freely available to the public on FamilySearch microfilms, and a text transcription of the information in those certificates is also freely searchable on the FamilySearch website, although the actual images are not online.
There are two complementary indices to those Health Department certificates, known as the Brides Index and the Grooms Index. These indices were created on index cards in the late 1930’s through the Works Project Administration . Those index cards of the Brides Index and the Grooms Index were then microfilmed, and you can view the films onsite at the Municipal Archives building in New York, or you can view them on FamilySearch microfilms. In recent years, these indices have been turned into free online searchable databases, transcribed through the hard work of the volunteers in the non-profit Italian Genealogical Group .
Is There A Waiting Period
Yes. Although the marriage license is issued immediately, the marriage ceremony may not take place within 24 hours from the exact time that the license was issued. When both applicants are 16 years of age or older, the 24-hour waiting period may be waived by an order of a Judge of the Nassau County Supreme Court or a Judge of the Nassau County Court. If either person is under 16 years of age, the order must be from a Nassau County Family Court Judge.
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What Is A Lawful Right Or Claim
If the applicant is not the spouse, parent or child of the decedent, a lawful right or claim must be documented. An example of a lawful right or claim would be a death record needed by the applicant to claim a benefit. Documentation would consist of an official letter from the agency verifying that to process the claim they require from the applicant a copy of the requested death record.
To obtain a copy in person:
- Bring a completed and signed Application for Copy of Death Record Formto the City Clerks office: 1 West Chester Street, Room 307, Long Beach, NY 11561.
- Payment of $10.00 per copy. Cash and money orders , and credit cards are accepted for payment.
- One of the following forms of valid photo-ID:
· Driver license
If You Are A Party To The Marriage
and you need a copy of a marriage certificate for someone who was married outside one of New York Citys five boroughs, you can make a request to the New York Department of Health.
If the marriage took place within one of New York Citys five boroughs , you must make a request to the Office of the City Clerk, Marriage Bureau.
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Index To New York City Marriage Licenses 1996
This data is online at NYCMarriageIndex.com and the Internet Archive
The 1950-1995 and 1996-2017 portions of the index to New York City marriage licenses are now freely searchable online! Check out NYCMarriageIndex.com to search the names. You can even download the raw data files in spreadsheet, .CSV, or SQL format.
You can also check out the scanned microfilm images of the 1908-1972 portion of the marriage license data at the Internet Archive.
Back in 2016, Reclaim The Records filed a New York Freedom of Information Law request with the New York City Clerks Office, asking them for the first-ever public copy of the New York City marriage license index, for all marriages after 1930. The city failed to respond to the request at all, and then failed to respond to the FOIL appeal in the proper timeframe, so we took them to court. The city settled the lawsuit, handed over the marriage license index records for 1930-1995, and then paid our attorneys fees.
And so we did. In September 2017, Reclaim The Records filed a brand new FOIL request, once again with the New York City Clerks Office, asking for the continuation of that marriage license data, covering marriages from 1996-2016. Here is the text of our FOIL request pay special attention to the last sentence:
SPOILER: We did, in fact, have to take their office to court again.
But we won again, and we got the records again, and the city had to pay our attorneys fees again, so hey, its all good.
New York County Marriages 1847
This FamilySearch collection can be accessed for free on www.familysearch.org. It is a fully searchable collection that contains an index and images of civil county marriage records for 45 out of New York State’s 62 counties. Researchers should note that indexing is currently in process, so not all images may be discoverable via search. All images can be browsed, and are organized by county and year range.
In New York State, many local governments kept copies of marriage certificates, even after they were required by law to send copies to the State Department of Health in Albany. The images in this collection are of these county copies.
Coverage does vary by county. Researchers may want to consult this New York County Marriages Coverage Table on FamilySearch for specifics on their county of interest.
Similar collections on Findmypast
There are a few collections on Findmypast that are similar to FamilySearch’s collection of county marriage records. These collections comprise of many of the same images, but researchers with a subscription to Findmypast may also want to search these collections:
As a reminder, all NYG& B members get free access to all North American records on Findmypast as a bonus membership benefit.
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New York State Marriage Records
Researchers should begin by searching New York State’s index to all marriage records from 1881. Marriage indexes are available online at Internet Archive for 1881 to 1964. As with other vital records, compliance increased as time went on, and records between 1881 and 1913 may be incomplete.
Also, many counties hold marriage license files, some of which may be found in FamilySearchs New York, County Marriages, 1847-1848 1908-1936 database.
In many cases, marriage records can be located at the county level. For detailed information on marriage and other records available in each county, see our New York State County Guides for Genealogists for your county of interest.
Findmypast has a growing collection of county marriage records for New York State – this includes a searchable index of brides and grooms, along with images of marriage records in many cases. NYG& B members can access these records for free as a benefit of membership.
Again, these indexes do not cover several notable locations. New York City marriage records have always been kept completely separate from vital records of other locations in New York State. See the New York City section of this guide for more information.
Additionally, New York State does not have marriage records for Albany, Buffalo, or Yonkers before 1914. Click the name of each municipality to find out about obtaining vital records for your ancestors in these cities.
New York State Vital Records
New York State has created indexes to births, marriages, and deaths occurring after 1880 for locations outside of New York City.
State coverage for Albany, Buffalo, and Yonkers does not begin until 1914. If you’re seeking a birth, marriage, or death record for an ancestor in one of those locations before 1914, click the name of each municipality for tips on finding records before 1914.
Researchers with ancestors anywhere else in New York State can get their ancestor’s vital record in two steps:
- Locate the certificate number in a New York State vital records index
- Use the certificate number found in the index to request the record
These records are only available to the public after a certain period of time, which varies depending on the record and the researcher’s relation to the person of interest. Read on for a general overview of each type of record and where to find the indexes you need to get started.
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New York Marriage Records
New York marriage records can be procured through the Vital Records Certification Unit, Department of Health. When requesting for a copy of this record, you have to submit an application via the US Postal Service to the Vital Records Processing Center. If priority handling is requested, the processing time for such entreaty will just take a day or two. For orders without a rush request, the time required for them to be processed takes roughly days to several weeks. This estimated time will occasionally increase depending on the volume of records received in the office.
Should you wish to obtain New York marriage records in a fast and expedient way, you can actually try retrieving it online. Several online record solutions proffer the same services but for a minimal to no fee at all. Whats more, they can give you the record you need in just minutes thereby saving you money and time.
To obtain a copy of a record of marriage in New York, follow these outlined steps:
Are You Going To Lead An Indexing And Transcription Project
We really do hope that someone will turn the scanned images of this index into a transcribed and searchable database, to make life easier for researchers. But were leaving that entirely up to the genealogical community to figure out the details were just interested in posting the data online and then moving on to our next batch of records requests. If one of the genealogical non-profit organizations or for-profit companies want to take that project on, thats entirely up to them. We hope to have more details about this soon.
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How To Access New York Divorce Records Online
The online portal for accessing divorce case files in New York is the New York State Department of Health online platform. This platform provides records of divorce case files in all 62 counties of New York. The information required to obtain a copy of a divorce record online include:
- A $30 fee payable by credit card only
- A $15 fee for priority handling
- A $8 vendor processing fee
- A valid photo-ID or copy of one
- A proof of address or copy of one
Should accessing or finding a record prove difficult, third party websites can help not only locate, but obtain a record in question. Note that records obtained in this way may not be considered official or certified, and record availability may vary from government sources.
New York City Department Of Health And Mental Hygiene: More Recent Birth And Death Certificates
More recent collections of birth and death certificates in New York City are maintained by the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene .
After a certain period of time, these records are transferred from DOHMH to the DORIS and stored at the Municipal Archives, where they can be accessed by any member of the public.
Currently, records are transferred to DORIS and made fully public on the following schedule:
- Birth Certificates: 125 years after the event
- Death Certificates: 75 years after the event
Researchers should note that this is a new rule that was passed relatively recently and took effect in 2019if youre interested, read more about our efforts to fight against it, and how we were able to secure an amendment to the rule.
Vital certificates that are still at the Department of Health can be accessed, but not by everyone.
Individuals with one of the following relationships to the subject of the certificate can obtain copies of birth records from DOHMH :
- Spouse/domestic partner
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Find New York Marriage Records
New York Marriage Records provide information about marriage licenses, certificates, and registries in NY. Official Marriage Records provide information about whether a marriage is legally valid, the names of both parties to the marriage, and when the wedding took place. Marriage Records are required for certain legal processes, including name changes or applying for spousal benefits.
Find Marriage Records, including:
- New York Marriage Record registries
- Genealogy records
Option : Investigate At The State Department Of Health
If you cannot locate an image of the marriage record you’re seeking online, don’t give up! You may be able to order a copy from the New York State Department of Health in Albany for a small fee.
Their collection begins with the year 1880 and generally becomes more reliable as time goes on. Most experts consider their records to be reliably complete beginning in 1914. Researchers should note that the State Department of Health does not have vital records for Albany, Buffalo, and Yonkers before 1914for records before that time, you should investigate at the local level.
The best way to receive the exact marriage certificate you’re looking for is to find the certificate number in an index. Once you have the certificate number, you can easily order the certificate. If you can’t find a certificate number, you can request an index search along with a copy of any certificates found, but it will result in a higher fee.
Thanks to the organization Reclaim the Records, digital images of the New York State Marriage Index are available online at Internet Archive for free. They cannot be searched, but are listed alphabetically so browsing should be fruitful. Researchers with a subscription to Ancestry.com can search the index online in the New York State, Marriage Index, 1881 – 1967.
See our online guide to Finding New York Birth, Marriage, and Death records for detailed information on ordering a vital certificate from the NYS Department of Health.
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Are New York Marriage Records Public
While New York Marriage Records are public, they represent some of the most difficult records to obtain due to the personal nature of the information within. Government organizations often offer marriage verification letters rather than the original marriage records because marriage records must remain intact and unchanged with regard to the people involved in the marriage. If changes need to be made, these records are critical to that procedure.
Family Court Records can include marriage records and divorce records. These records contain personal information of those involved and their maintenance is critical should anyone involved wish to make changes. Because of this both marriage and divorce records can be considered more difficult to locate and obtain than other public records, and may not be available through government sources or third party public record websites.
What Is A New York Divorce Decree
New York state divorce decrees are sealed documents that contain all of the information included in a divorce certificate, plus the court’s final judgement. Generally, a divorce decree serves the purpose of stating the rights and responsibilities of both parties. This includes spousal support, child support, child custody, visitation schedules, division of property, life and health insurance responsibilities, and how the parties will divide debt or future payments. Most often, a divorce decree is requested by one of the parties when they wish to review and make changes to it. This document is available for purchase by either spouse, and also by anyone with a New York State Court Order.
Requesting A Record Via Mail
Orders are processed within 7 to 10 days from receipt of mail request and the following information must be included:
- Enclose a written request with the following information: Groom’s Full Name, Bride’s First Name and Maiden Name, Date of Marriage, and contact phone number.
- Enclose a self-addressed stamped envelope
- Money order payable to the City Clerk
- Copy of government issued photo identification
- Proof of address if your address on your identification is not current and send to:Vital Records65 Niagara SquareBuffalo NY 14202
** If no record is on file, a NO RECORD CERTIFICATION will be issued and the fee will NOT be refunded.
We do not send records to third parties or PO Boxes.