STATE COUNCIL OF
Effort to Reduce the Cost
of Vital Records
Importance Of Vital Records
Authentic vital records are the most, and often the only, reliable source of family history information. Vital records, made at the occurrence of an event, are an accurate and objective description of a birth, marriage or death events. County, state and the federal governments recognize the importance of these records by investing large amounts of time, money, and resources in their preservation.
Original vital records provide the best documentation of life events, and prevent misspelling, handwriting variations and other human errors made in transcriptions. They also provide additional interest in the time and circumstances of the events.
One of the great values in maintaining these records is to make them accessible to those persons who are most concerned with the information that is stored in them. Family values, health and history itself are enhanced by the availability of records pertaining to those families. Copies of these records need to be made available to researchers at a nominal fee in order to ensure genealogical validity.
The fear that has been voiced that vital records could provide information which could lead to identity theft is unfounded. In a recent survey of 500 victims of identify theft, not one was due to information gleaned from vital records.
Cost of Vital Records:
A survey of other states indicated that New York State has the second highest cost of obtaining copies of vital records, and more than twice the average cost of other states. It is also the only state that charges more for an uncertified copy as it does for a certified one. At least two states presently have an ongoing project to make their vital records available free on the internet. At least five states, plus New York City’s five boroughs, have made their vital records available on microfilm at large libraries in their state. At least fifteen states, plus New York City’s five boroughs, have made their death record index available free on the internet.
Effort To Reduce the cost of Vital Records:
There were two efforts to reduce this cost.
Unfortunately the first died in committee, and we've lost our sponsors. There was an unconfirmed report that the head of the Health Committee was quoted as saying "The state is not in a position to subsidize genealogist". They obviously didn't get the true meaning of the bill. The bill was called: "A Right to Know Your Family bill", which reduced the cost of copies of vital records to half the present rate. It had been introduced into both the New York Assembly and Senate as bills A7209 and S6349 respectively. In each chamber, the bill had been referred to their Health Committee.
The second is a proposed bill which should be introduced to the Assembly. It would maintain the hourly cost of a search for a record when the actual dates is not known, but specifies a set fee when a request is made and the actual date or state file number is known. The set fee would be $10 when a request is made to the State archives, and $5 when a request is made to a local clerk's office.
Presently, $10 is the cost of obtaining a certified copy of a vital record, and a minimum of $22 is charged for the search & copy of an uncertified copy for genealogical purposes.
WHAT YOU CAN DO:
Please contact your local Assembly and Senate representatives and tell them how important it is that the cost of obtaining vital records be made more affordable. Make them aware of our efforts, and encourage them to get together with their collogues to support this effort. The most important people that should be contacted at the present time are the members of both Health Committees. Below are lists of these members. (This list may be old because it was generated a few years ago.)
Last updated 1/30/2008