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Vital Records in
New York State

Transcribed by Arlene Goodwin

           New York State Archives Information Leaflet #2

New York began statewide registration of births, marriages, and deaths in 1880-81, under supervision of the State and local boards of health.  Compliance with the law was incomplete until 1900 or even later; therefore certificates are lacking for many events. Several of the State’s larger cities recorded vital events for varying periods of time prior to 1880; see reverse for more information.  An 1847 law required the school districts in each town to collect vital statistics. They ceased doing so after a few years.  (The State Archives and Department of Health hold no records created under the 1847 law.)

Vital Records Indexes 

The State Department of Health had transferred to the State Archives for public use microfiche copies of indexes to birth, marriage, and death certificates. The indexes cover the entire state outside of New York City and start in June 1880 (deaths) or 1881 (marriages and births). Birth indexes are made available for public use after 75 years, marriage and death indexes after 50 years. An index entry states only the name of the person, date and place of event, and State certificate number.  Indexes for certain years are arranged by SOUNDEX codes. 

Scope of Indexes:  The indexes do not include vital events in New York City and in the former city of Brooklyn for any period. The indexes do include events in the former towns of Kings County prior to their annexation by City of Brooklyn in the 1880’s and ‘90s; in portions of Westchester Count prior to their annexation by New York City in 1895; and in Richmond County (Staten Island) and the western towns of Queens County prior to their incorporation into the City of New York, Jan. 1, 1898.

The indexes do not include births and deaths in Albany, Buffalo, and Yonkers prior to 1914, or marriages in those cities prior to 1908. (Contact the local registrar of vital statistics in those cities for information about earlier records.)  The birth indexes do not include original data for adopted infants.  The birth and death indexes do include data on individuals who were born or died in the state facility.

Conditions of Use:  The microfiche indexes may be used at three locations:

[1] New York Archives, Cultural Education Center, Empire State Plaza, Albany, Monday-Friday, 9:00-4:45, except state holidays.  No appointment is needed to use the indexes. Researchers must produce identification, sign a registration form, and comply with the rules of the research room. Several microfiche readers are available for use, but a researcher may be limited to one hour’s use of a reader, if other persons are waiting to use the readers. 

[2]  National Archives – Northeast Region,  201 Varick Street, New York, NY 10014; telephone (212) 227-1300 [].

[3]  Rochester Public Library,115 South Avenue, Rochester, NY 14604; telephone (716) 428-8440   [] (eff. Oct. 2000).

[4] Onondaga County Public Library, 447 South Salina Street, Syracuse, NY 13202; telephone (315) 435-1900  [] (eff. Feb. 2002)

Transcription, reproduction, loan, or sale of the indexes is not permitted. The data in the indexes is not available in electronic format for online access. Sources of Birth, Marriage, and Death Certificates 

The New York State Archives does not hold birth, marriage, and death certificates, only indexes to them. The State Department of Health and local registrars of vital statistics are authorized to furnish uncertified copies of vital records for genealogical purposes.  Data on living persons is restricted by law. Contact of DOH or a local registrar for application forms and general information.

Statewide (except cities noted below):  Birth, marriage, and death certificates for New York State (except five boroughs of New York City) are held by:

New York State Department of Health 
Bureau of Vital Records
800 North Pearl Street, 2nd Floor
Albany, NY 12204                                     
(518) 474-3077

Local registrars of vital statistics (town, village, or city) hold registers of birth, marriage, and deaths.  Contact the registrar’s office for further information:

Manhattan *
Births: July 1847-48, July 1853-1909
Deaths: 1795, 1802-04,1808,1812-1948
Marriages: June 1847-48, July 1853-1937

*Includes records for western Bronx, 1874-97, and eastern Bronx, 1895-97.

Brooklyn *
Births: 1866-1909
Deaths: 1847-53, 1857-1948
Marriages: 1866-1937
*Pre-1898 records are for Brooklyn city only. Records for former towns in Kings County usually commence 1880-82; a few have vital records for later 1840’s.

Bronx, Queens, Staten Island*
Births: 1898-1909
Deaths: 1898-1948
Marriages: 1898-1937
*There are scattered earlier records for towns and village prior to their incorporation into New York City in 1898, Long Island City records start in 1871.

For further information contact: 

New York City Municipal Archives
31 Chambers Street (Room 103)
New York, NY 10007            (212)788-8580

for more recent birth and death records, contact:

New York City Department of Health
Office of Vital Records
125 Worth Street
New York, NY 10013           (212)788-4520

Post 1937 marriage records are held by the borough offices of the New York City Clerk. For addresses of borough offices, contact:

New York City Clerk’s Office
Municipal Building (Room 252)
1 Centre Street
New York, NY 10007            (212) 669-2400 

Other Official Vital Records in Upstate Cities and Counties:  

A few upstate cities began recording vital events a few years prior to 1880: Albany, Binghamton, Buffalo, Elmira, Newburgh, Poughkeepsie, Rochester, Syracuse, Utica, Yonkers. For further information contact the city clerk’s office. Some county clerks hold marriage records for the period ca 1908-35.


Estelle M. Guzik, ed., Genealogical Resources in the New York Metropolitan Area. New York 1989. [Contains detailed information on New York City vital records.]

New York State Department of Health. New York State Gazetteer. Albany: 1995. [Official listing of towns, cities, villages, and hamlets, giving the local registration districts in which they are located.  Gazetteer does not contain addresses and phone numbers of local registrars of vital statistics. Contact telephone directory assistance for phone numbers.

U. S. Department of Health and Human Services. Social Security Administration. Social Security Death Index. [This is an index to claims for Social Security death benefits; it is available online []

U. S. Work Projects Administration. Historical Records Survey. Guide to Public Vital Statistics Records in New York State (Including New York City), 3 vols. Albany, 1942.

______. Guide to Vital Statistics in the City of New York: Churches, 5 vols, New York: 1942.

______. Guide to Vital Statistics Records of Churches in New York Sate (Exclusive of New York City), 2 vols. Albany: 1942 

The New York State Archives is a program of the State Education Department, Office of Cultural Education. For further information on the Archives’ holdings and services, contact: 

New York State Archives
Cultural Education Center   Room 3043
Albany, NY  12230
(518) 474-8955
E-mail Archref@mail.


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