Vital records are those relating to the major life events birth, marriage, and death. Official vital records are regulated at the state level, and availability for genealogical research varies tremendously from state to state. Vital record substitutes are those records which may give us similar information about birth, marriage, and death, but which are not official state records. These records not only give us information about the event itself, but often may provide information about other family members, particularly parents, children, and spouses.
New York State did not start maintaining vital records for birth, marriage, and death until 1880. Even then, compliance was slow until as late as 1913, and early records may be incomplete.
New York State Vital Records.
New York State does not make its vital records available online. The good news is that indexes formerly available on microfiche only are now available online through Ancestry Library Edition.
Copies of the records themselves must be ordered for a fee. Records in New York State outside New York City are requested from Albany, while records for New York City are available from the New York City Municipal Archives. Vital records might also be available from city, town, or county clerks in New York State for a fee. Consult web sites for the city, town, and/or county of interest for additional details on holdings for genealogical research.
Vital records for New York City are held by the New York City Municipal Archives; copies may be ordered for a fee.
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