Skip to Main Content

New York State: Local History & Genealogy Resource Guide

Vital Records

Based on the date of the vital event (birth, death, marriage, divorce), determine whether you are seeking a state, territory, county, or parish level record. If the record you are seeking has been digitized, you can access it online, through the projects described below. If it has not been digitized or if you need a certified copy, contact the appropriate state or county office to view the record.

Timeline of Vital Records

Birth Records
Death Records
  • State Level: 1880 to present

No maiden names or marital status are shown for deaths; ages at death are given only from 1940 forward.

  • Below state level, records vary by locality. For New York City, see Obtaining Copies of Vital Records, below.

Note: A state law in effect from 1847 to 1853 mandated the keeping of vital records, with only spotty success. Those that survive may be kept by town or county clerks, or in historical societies. Others were published in Tree Talks (a publication of the Central New York Genealogical Society, available at FamilySearch External), or in the Cemetery, Church, and Town Records books published by the New York State Daughters of the American Revolution External.

Also Note: The New York State censuses of 1825, 1835, 1845 recorded statistics of births and deaths for each household. The 1855 census records deaths, but without names. The 1865 and 1875 censuses include deaths.

Marriage Records
  • State Level: 1880 to present

Marriages are indexed by the name of each party, but with no cross-referencing except from 1908 to 1914, and since 1944. Not all marriages were recorded.

  • Below state level, records vary by locality. For New York City, see Obtaining Copies of Vital Records, below.

Some records of marriages performed by local justices of the peace have survived, a few of which have been published in Tree Talks and The New York Genealogical and Biographical Record.

Marriage licenses, 1639 – 1783 were published in 1860 (See Names of Persons, below).

Note: Most of the marriage bonds from 1664 to 1911 were destroyed or damaged in a fire in that latter year at the New York State Library. Some that survived were published in 1972 (See New York Marriage Bonds, below).

Also Note: The New York State censuses of 1825, 1835, 1845 recorded statistics of marriages for each household. The 1855 census records marriages, but without names. The 1865 and 1875 censuses include marriages.

Divorce Records
  • County Level 1847-present: County Supreme Court

Online Resources for Vital Records

The subscription resources marked with a padlock are available to researchers on-site at the Library of Congress. If you are unable to visit the Library, you may be able to access these resources through your local public or academic library.

Using Ancestry Library Edition for New York State

Begin your search through Ancestry's vast collections, by viewing the list designated as New York State records External

Using FamilySearch for New York State

FamilySearch provides useful state and county wikis that make excellent starting points for research. The New York State Wiki External includes links to each of its 62 counties.

FamilySearch has digitized many of its microfilms containing county courthouse records including birth, death, and marriage. Not all records have been indexed yet, so search engine results may NOT show you the full range of FamilySearch data. You must browse the FamilySearch catalog External listings for each county to view the full set of records available. The vast amount of accessible original records is well worth your time to explore.

There is no fee to use FamilySearch, but you must create a free, personal account to access the databases and digital records.

Obtaining Copies of Local (non-State-level) Vital Records

Some cities recorded vital events prior to the 1880 law, including Albany, Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Utica, Yonkers, and New York City. For Albany, Buffalo, and Yonkers, request birth and death records before 1914, and marriages before 1908, from those cities' registrars of vital statistics. For 1908 to 1935, marriages were generally recorded with the county clerk.

Published Vital Records

Below are selected print publications for statewide vital records. The following titles link to fuller bibliographic information in the Library of Congress Online Catalog. Links to additional online content are included when available.

To locate additional published materials, go to the Print Resources section of this guide for search tips on locating published county courthouse records, abstracts, and indexes that may aide you in locating original records at the county level.