The New York State Vital Records Index is a comprehensive list of births, marriages, and deaths in New York State. The Department of Health started maintaining records in 1880. Because compliance with the law was not strictly enforced until 1915, a lot of events prior to that year were never recorded. In 2000, the Rochester Public Library became the first public library in New York to hold a copy of the Vital Records Index.
The index is located in the Local History division on the second floor of the Rundel Building of the Central Library of Rochester and Monroe County in downtown Rochester.
***The Vital Records Index must be consulted in person. Under New York State law, library staff are prohibited from performing lookups for patrons. Patrons who wish to consult the index but cannot come to the library are encouraged to call the Local History Division for a list of researchers.
New York City has always maintained its own information. The cities of Buffalo, Albany, and Yonkers maintained their own data until 1915. For information from these cities prior to 1915, you will need to contact each city directly. Confidentiality laws are strictly enforced, prohibiting the release of records more recent than 50 years for marriages and deaths and 75 years for births. The New York State Department of Health releases another year of data each year.
More detailed information surrounding the event is available on the official birth, death, or marriage certificate. These official records can be ordered from Albany or the local registrar. If the life event was recorded in New York State, the index will list the person’s name, the place where the event occurred, the date it took place, and the file number assigned by the Department of Health in Albany. The Vital Records Index is available at the following places:
- New York State Archives
- Broome County Public Library
- Buffalo & Erie County Public Library
- Steele Memorial Library
- Crandall Public Library
Glens Falls, NY
- National Archives—Northeast Region
New York, NY
- Patchogue-Medford Library
- Rochester Public Library
- Onondaga County Public Library
- Flower Memorial Library
See The New York State Department of Health website for more information.