Our “To-Do” List

The following is a very preliminary list of record sets that Reclaim The Records will be working to acquire over the next two years. We’re primarily focusing here on New York City, New York State, and New Jersey, because these are the areas in which we have some research experience. But we’d like to add information from all fifty states, and eventually other countries too. Take our new records survey to help us add to this list!

State or Territory
City or County
Record Type
Record Years
Current availability
Agency to whom the FOIL request would be addressed
Notes
All statesAll cities and countiesSchool recordsAll yearsMultiple people have reported problems getting access to old school records, even when the person being researched is a relative and is deceased and the records are quite old. Some school records repositories' archivists are even incorrectly citing HIPAA (which is supposed to be for health and medical records, and has nothing to do with school) to prevent records access by the public.TBD.In the future, we will be adding a "how-to" guide to the website for requesting records release from educational institutions under state FOI laws. Note that only public educational facilities are covered under state FOI laws, not private institutions.
All statesAll cities and countiesState-run mental hospital records (particularly deaths and burials on hospital grounds)All yearsThere needs to be a comprehensive overview done of the legality of opening mental hospital records, particularly concerning people who died in the hospitals and who might be buried on the grounds, as those people often have their information completely missing from state death indices. Medical records may still have legal privacy restrictions -- but, just for the record, the modern HIPAA law does not apply to old records. Some hospitals' records are available through state libraries (i.e. Oregon, Connecticut), particularly to researchers who can prove a family relationship, but what about general availability of indices?TBD.A state-by-state investigation into each state's laws concerning these records needs to be undertaken. Any volunteers? E-mail reclaimtherecords@gmail.com if so.
All statesAll cities and countiesIndex to C-File Numbers for Naturalization RecordsAll yearsNot available to the public. Public currently must request that USCIS does their own search in this index first for $20, and they then provide a specific case and file number which can be requested.USCISNote that this would potentially be Reclaim The Records' first ever FOIA request, for Federal records, not state records. Much information in this database would have to be redacted by USCIS before it can be made public, so that no recent records would be provided. Realistically, this kind of FOIA request would probably require a court case to make them turn it over.
CaliforniaAll countiesIndex to marriagesAll yearsThere is no California-wide marriage index currently available on any website, other than one database that spans a few mid-century years. Every county in California handles marriage index look-ups differently in practice, some allowing onsite access to computerized county-wide indices (i.e. San Francisco), some having microfilmed indices, some having nothing at all? Note that the public already has access to copies of all informational (non-certified) non-confidential marriage *records* in California, so surely getting access to just the basic marriage *index* shouldn't be a problem. More info on the SF county site: http://sfgov.org/countyclerk/how-obtain-copies-marriage-licenses and http://www.sfassessor.org/forms-notices/forms/marriage-certificate-requestEach county clerk or Office of the Assessor-Recorder has its own copy; also, the California State Library in Sacramento has a partial copySome counties (which?) and some years (which?) have their marriage license data on microfilm or microfiche at the California State Library in Sacramento, open to the public onsite, but the library refuses to make copies of the film. A request under the California Public Records Act (PRA) has not been attempted yet. And some years clearly have a computerized index (1998-1999 and 2010-present [minus six months]) at the CA Dept of Health. See: http://www.cdph.ca.gov/certlic/birthdeathmar/Pages/CertifiedCopiesofMarriageandDivorceRecords.aspx . Note that California law allows for a reporter or other representative of the news media to access (but view only?) California marriage records free of charge, see: http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/displaycode?section=hsc&group=103001-104000&file=103625-103660 and skip to section 103655 near the bottom. Also interesting to note: California has a unique sub-type of marriage license called a "confidential marriage license" (as distinguished from a public one) that was originally designed for Hollywood stars! That type of marriage is uncommon. It is unclear whether any county's public marriage index would cover that type of confidential marriage too.
ConnecticutAll cities and countiesMarriage indexJuly 1, 1897 - December 31, 1958Access to marriage certificates, marriage license applications, and marriage indices are all open to the public under Connecticut law. But so far, the only publicly available statewide Connecticut marriage index runs from 1959-2001 (available at Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.org). So the earlier 1897-1958 marriage index should hypothetically be available too -- but it isn't yet. (July 1, 1897 is the date that statewide BMD registration started in Connecticut, although in practice some towns did not participate until a few years later.)State Vital Records Office at the Connecticut Department of Public Health
See also: http://www.ct.gov/dph/cwp/view.asp?a=3132&q=388130&dphNav=|46940| It clearly states that "The State Vital Records Office at the Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH) maintains a statewide registry of all births, marriages, civil unions, deaths and fetal deaths that have occurred in CT since July 1, 1897."
ConnecticutAll cities and countiesMarriage license applicationsJuly 1, 1897 - December 31, 2015Marriage certificates are already open to the general public in Connecticut by statute (through present day), and they already have a set fee already attached to them for copies. But marriage license applications (note: license applications are not the same thing as the actual certificate!) are open to the public under the Connecticut Freedom of Information law. (July 1, 1897 is the date that statewide BMD registration started in Connecticut, although in practice some towns did not participate until a few years later.) Also, the marriage index for just 1897-1965 is already available on the CT State LIbrary website.Every Connecticut town clerkIt is unclear in what year these applications started being collected, separate from the license or certificate itself. It may differ from town to town. See also: "Access to Marriage License Applications under the Freedom of Information Act" http://www.ctclerks.com/filestorage/6922/1322/1331/foi_marriage.doc (Word .DOC from the Connecticut Town Clerks' website, which confirms that applications are covered under Connecticut FOI and not subject to the usual fees for vital records.) Link for the 1897-1965 basic index at CT State Library: http://ctstatelibrary.org/marriage-records/
FloridaAll cities and countiesProbate recordsAll yearsFlorida's Public Records Law is one of the rare state FOI laws that explicitly covers the judicial branch too, which means probate books ought to be available to the public. But in practice, the books of the probate files are usually only available to the clerks to search through. Some indices to very old Florida probate records are available on FamilySearch and Ancestry, but they are mostly not indexed yet, they are usually not the full files, and they are usually not for the middle or end of the twentieth century.Every Florida county clerk
IllinoisCook countyBirth records1872-1940These files have a searchable index online and copies are available for purchase -- but *only* for purchase. The records do not appear to be open to the public for mere browsing. Unknown if available on microfilm; images used to be available online on FamilySearch.org (and possibly on Ancestry.com?) but are no longer available to the public.Genealogy Unit of the Cook County Clerk's Bureau of Vital RecordsSee also: http://cookcountygenealogy.com/MoreInfo.aspx and https://familysearch.org/search/catalog/1462519
IllinoisCook countyMarriage records1872-1965These files have a searchable index online and copies are available for purchase -- but *only* for purchase. The records do not appear to be open to the public for mere browsing. Unknown if available on microfilm; images used to be available online on FamilySearch.org (and possibly on Ancestry.com?) but are no longer available to the public.Genealogy Unit of the Cook County Clerk's Bureau of Vital RecordsSee also: http://cookcountygenealogy.com/MoreInfo.aspx
IllinoisCook countyDeath records1872-1995These files have a searchable index online and copies are available for purchase -- but *only* for purchase. The records do not appear to be open to the public for mere browsing. Unknown if available on microfilm; images used to be available online on FamilySearch.org (and possibly on Ancestry.com?) but are no longer available to the public.Genealogy Unit of the Cook County Clerk's Bureau of Vital RecordsSee also: http://cookcountygenealogy.com/MoreInfo.aspx
IllinoisWill countyAmended and delayed birth certificatesUnknown through the 1950'sThe county denies that they have any amended or delayed birth certificates, even though their own vital records index lists them through the 1950's, and therefore will not provide them to the public. Records are believed to be on microfilm and possibly already digitized, but public denied the right to do their own look-ups.Probably the Will County clerk's officePart of a larger series of reported problems with the Will County clerk's office, Will County circuit clerk's office, and Will County Archives. Most records only allowed to be searched by employees, not by the public. Many records reportedly missing or misfiled.
IllinoisWill countyEducation records1890-1929Public access to the handwritten Regional Board of Education books for Will County, kept at the Will County Archives, is being denied to researchers. The excuse being presented by the archivist is that it's a privacy issue and researchers need written permission from the RBOE and the circuit clerk's office. No such privacy law actually exists, to our knowledge, especially given the age of these records.Probably the Will County circuit clerk's office (note: circuit clerk, not regular clerk)Part of a larger series of reported problems with the Will County clerk's office, Will County circuit clerk's office, and Will County Archives. Most records only allowed to be searched by employees, not by the public. Many records reportedly missing or misfiled.
IllinoisWill countyMarriage applicationsUnknownThe county will only provide marriage certificates and denies that any marriage applications exist, and therefore will not provide them to the public.Probably the Will County clerk's officePart of a larger series of reported problems with the Will County clerk's office, Will County circuit clerk's office, and Will County Archives. Most records only allowed to be searched by employees, not by the public. Many records reportedly missing or misfiled.
IllinoisWill countyMilitary records1861-1865The Will County Recorder of Deeds office refuses access to Military Adjudant General Civil War Records on several microfilms in the office. They claim these records are sealed to the public. This is the only known location of these records. Believed to be microfilm-only.Probably the Will County Recorder of Deeds officePart of a larger series of reported problems with the Will County clerk's office, Will County circuit clerk's office, and Will County Archives. Most records only allowed to be searched by employees, not by the public. Many records reportedly missing or misfiled.
IllinoisWill countyProbate records and property recordsUnknownThe office moved into a smaller space and moved many record books that used to be available off the floor to the Will County Archives where they are now inaccessible. Records are on microfilm, but some may already be digitzied; however, public is denied access.Probably the Will County Recorder of Deeds officePart of a larger series of reported problems with the Will County clerk's office, Will County circuit clerk's office, and Will County Archives. Most records only allowed to be searched by employees, not by the public. Many records reportedly missing or misfiled.
IllinoisWill countyNaturalization recordsUnknownThe county's naturalization records, kept at the Will County Archives, are in very poor shape; records access was perviously open to the public with an appointment, but they are now denying access based on "condition". Unknown if they have ever been microfilmed (probably not).Probably the Will County circuit clerk's office (note: circuit clerk, not regular clerk)Part of a larger series of reported problems with the Will County clerk's office, Will County circuit clerk's office, and Will County Archives. Most records only allowed to be searched by employees, not by the public. Many records reportedly missing or misfiled.
IndianaMost cities and countiesBirth index (and possibly birth certificates?)1920-presentThe state's birth index appears to be searchable through payment to the State, but is not generally open to the public for free open searches, and apparently not available on microfilm or web database. However, some counties have taken it upon themselves to place the typed-up county-level indices (clearly taken from a computerized source, but presented as non-searchable PDF's) on their local libraries' website (for example, Greene county). The content of the actual birth certificates does not appear to be restricted; according to Indiana law IC 16-37-2-9 the permanent birth records shall be open to public inspection unless the child was adopted.Probably the Indiana Division of Vital Records68 out of 92 Indiana counties had their 1880-1920 birth records indexed by the WPA (Works Progress Administration) during the Great Depression; that searchable index is available online already, including at Ancestry.com. But no post-1920 birth index information appears to be available. This seems especially surprising given that the genealogically renowned Allen County Public Library is located in Fort Wayne, Indiana. A tipster has mentioned Lawrence county as one in particular where birth indices/records can not be searched freely by the public. Ancestry may be filming all old Indiana vital records; needs confirmation.
MassachusettsAll citiesBirth index1921-present (?)Available onsite only. Older index is in books in five-year blocks, newer index is computerized and is year-by-year. Some of this data is online already. Some of this statewide data is made available by the archives through through the New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS) and the FamilySearch Family History Library (FHL) -- but not "public" nor downloadable yet.Massachusetts Registry of Vital Records and Statistics, within the Massachusetts Department of Public HealthMassachusetts records indices are only open to the public during limited "genealogical hours" for a total of eleven hours per week -- and they charge $9/hour for researchers just to physically be in the room! See also: http://www.mass.gov/eohhs/gov/departments/dph/programs/admin/dmoa/vitals/obtaining-certified-copies-of-vital-records.html Reclaim the Records will wait to make a public records request for this index until the Massachusetts legislature passes the new Public Records Law update in the 2016 legislative season, which will greatly aid our chances of winning, will reduce the associated costs of winning a request, and will give us the ability to recoup any potential legal fees if our request needs to go to court.
MassachusettsAll citiesBirth index -- amended birth records1841-present (?)Available onsite only. Some of this statewide data is made available by the archives through through the New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS, but not "public" nor downloadable yet.Massachusetts Registry of Vital Records and Statistics, within the Massachusetts Department of Public HealthMassachusetts records indices are only open to the public during limited "genealogical hours" for a total of eleven hours per week -- and they charge $9/hour for researchers just to physically be in the room! See also: http://www.mass.gov/eohhs/gov/departments/dph/programs/admin/dmoa/vitals/obtaining-certified-copies-of-vital-records.html Reclaim the Records will wait to make a public records request for this index until the Massachusetts legislature passes the new Public Records Law update in the 2016 legislative season, which will greatly aid our chances of winning, will reduce the associated costs of winning a request, and will give us the ability to recoup any potential legal fees if our request needs to go to court.
MassachusettsAll citiesDeath index1921-present (?)Available onsite only. Older index is in books in five-year blocks, newer index is computerized and is year-by-year. Some of this data is online already. Some of this statewide data is made available by the archives through through the New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS) and the FamilySearch Family History Library (FHL) -- but not "public" nor downloadable yet.Massachusetts Registry of Vital Records and Statistics, within the Massachusetts Department of Public HealthMassachusetts records indices are only open to the public during limited "genealogical hours" for a total of eleven hours per week -- and they charge $9/hour for researchers just to physically be in the room! See also: http://www.mass.gov/eohhs/gov/departments/dph/programs/admin/dmoa/vitals/obtaining-certified-copies-of-vital-records.html Reclaim the Records will wait to make a public records request for this index until the Massachusetts legislature passes the new Public Records Law update in the 2016 legislative season, which will greatly aid our chances of winning, will reduce the associated costs of winning a request, and will give us the ability to recoup any potential legal fees if our request needs to go to court.
MassachusettsAll citiesDivorce index1952-presentAvailable onsite only. Not online, not on FamilySearch microfilms.Massachusetts Registry of Vital Records and Statistics, within the Massachusetts Department of Public HealthMassachusetts records indices are only open to the public during limited "genealogical hours" for a total of eleven hours per week -- and they charge $9/hour for researchers just to physically be in the room! See also: http://www.mass.gov/eohhs/gov/departments/dph/programs/admin/dmoa/vitals/obtaining-certified-copies-of-vital-records.html Reclaim the Records will wait to make a public records request for this index until the Massachusetts legislature passes the new Public Records Law update in the 2016 legislative season, which will greatly aid our chances of winning, will reduce the associated costs of winning a request, and will give us the ability to recoup any potential legal fees if our request needs to go to court.
MassachusettsAll citiesMarriage index1921-present (?)Available onsite only. Older index is in five-year blocks, newer index is year-by-year. Not online, not on FamilySearch microfilms. Some of this statewide data is made available by the archives through through the New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS) -- they have the 1900-1955 and the 1966-1970 indices in book format at their library.Massachusetts Registry of Vital Records and Statistics, within the Massachusetts Department of Public HealthMassachusetts records indices are only open to the public during limited "genealogical hours" for a total of eleven hours per week -- and they charge $9/hour for researchers just to physically be in the room! See also: http://www.mass.gov/eohhs/gov/departments/dph/programs/admin/dmoa/vitals/obtaining-certified-copies-of-vital-records.html Reclaim the Records will wait to make a public records request for this index until the Massachusetts legislature passes the new Public Records Law update in the 2016 legislative season, which will greatly aid our chances of winning, will reduce the associated costs of winning a request, and will give us the ability to recoup any potential legal fees if our request needs to go to court.
MarylandBaltimore cityNaturalizations indexlisted as 1796-1933 in catalog, but actually early 1800's-1906Available on paper cards in a card catalog that is publicly available, but they have never been microfilmed nor scanned. Not available on FamilySearch microfilm.Maryland State ArchivesSee also: http://www.raogk.org/maryland-genealogy/md-court-records/#immigration AND http://guide.mdsa.net/pages/series.aspx?action=viewSeries&ID=s1416
MichiganAll cities and countiesBirth index1867-presentNo birth index is available for Michigan yet. But it seems like their vital records laws don't define what a certificate is versus an index, and don't prohibit an index. They give the Department of Health and Senior Services the right to make rules about access to the records. Can this be over-ruled by Michigan's state FOI law? Law 333.2888 explicitly claims they can overrule it. Also Michigan has a really weird system whereby anyone can "verify" most pieces of data in a birth record by sending it in, with a fee.Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, Vital Records OfficeReference for the law -- Public Health Code / Act 368 of 1978 / 333.2896 Rules; minimum requirements: http://www.legislature.mi.gov/(S(a1ehubdozbcl24s1zpp1ixue))/mileg.aspx?page=getObject&objectName=mcl-333-2896
Dept of Health and Senior Services website: http://www.michigan.gov/mdhhs/0,5885,7-339-71551_4645---,00.html
How to "verify" a birth record under Michigan law: see law MCL 333.2881(2)
MinnesotaSt. Louis countyMarriage certificates1820-1940Marriage certificates are public in Minnesota, and an online index and easy ordering system is available here: https://www.moms.mn.gov/ However, at the county courthouse, the public is prevented from browsing the microfilms of the certificates, and are being asked to pay for copies even if they merely want to see the documents.Probably the St. Louis county clerk's officeThis is yet another case where there is no legal impediment to public access to certificates, but the staff at a courthouse throws up roadblocks, possibly to earn revenue. The tipster who reported this also says: "once a week a "genealogist" comes in and if you have an appt and money she will print them out." This seems like a revenue grab.
New JerseyAll citiesBirth records and birth indexBirth records 1901-1923, birth index 1901-1903Available only on-site at the New Jersey Archives in Trenton, on microfilm. Unknown if ever published in printed form. 1848-1878 registers available on NJ website; some pre-1900 records were allowed to be indexed by FamilySearch, but the certificates are not available on microfilm.Probably the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services, Bureau of Vital Statistics OR State ArchivesIndex only available 1901-1903, handwritten. Certificates are alphabetical by the surname within the year. New Jersey is one of the states whose Freedom of Information Law (the New Jersey Open Public Records Act -- OPRA) only allows a state resident to make requests. This was struck down by the Third Circuit in the 2006 case Lee v. Minner, but it's still technically on the books in NJ. So to keep things simpler, a state resident should probably make this request.
New JerseyAll citiesDeath records and death indexDeath records 1904-1955, death index 1901-1903 and 1949-1955Available only on-site at the New Jersey Archives in Trenton, on microfilm. Unknown if ever published in printed form. 1848-1878 registers available on NJ website; some pre-1900 records available on FamilySearch microfilm. NJ State Archives has an in-house indexing project (in progress) for deaths through 1900.Probably the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services, Bureau of Vital Statistics OR State ArchivesDeath certificates from 1901-1955 are listed on microfilche alphabetically by year, but only the years 1949-present have a separate index (with file number) too. Need to investigate status of death records prior to 1904. New Jersey is one of the states whose Freedom of Information Law (the New Jersey Open Public Records Act -- OPRA) only allows a state resident to make requests. This was struck down by the Third Circuit in the 2006 case Lee v. Minner, but it's still technically on the books in NJ. So to keep things simpler, a state resident should probably make this request.
New JerseyAll citiesDivorce indexUnknown - 1930'sAvailable only on-site at the New Jersey Archives in Trenton, on microfilm. Docket indices are listed alphabetically in 3-5 year blocks. They are in printed books, but later years (maybe 1980's?) in Superior Court has a searchable database; this was transferred circa March 2015.TBD.This may not be open: New Jersey divorce records are open (unless explicitly closed by a judge), unlike New York -- but OPRA does not cover judicial/court records.
New JerseyAll citiesMarriage records and partial marriage index (brides index)Marriage records 1901-1943, brides index 1901-1945Available only on-site at the New Jersey Archives in Trenton, on microfilm. Unknown if ever published in printed form. 1848-1878 registers available on NJ website; some pre-1900 records available on FamilySearch microfilm.Probably the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services, Bureau of Vital Statistics OR State ArchivesNew Jersey is one of the states whose Freedom of Information Law (the New Jersey Open Public Records Act -- OPRA) only allows a state resident to make requests. This was struck down by the Third Circuit in the 2006 case Lee v. Minner, but it's still technically on the books in NJ. So to keep things simpler, a state resident should probably make this request.
New JerseyAll cities and countiesProbate records and wills (estate packets and libers)1678-1901These scanned images are mostly available on FamilySearch (both online and on microfilm), and were briefly available on Ancestry including an Ancestry-only transcribed index. But in late September 2015, both the index and scanned images were removed from Ancestry without warning. Originals are also available at the New Jersey State Archives in Trenton, but only at cost; the Archives were apparently the ones to force Ancestry to remove their information.Probably the New Jersey State ArchivesNote that because these are judicial records, not governmental records, they may be inaccessible under OPRA (New Jersey's version of FOIL). See also: http://www.geneamusings.com/2015/09/here-yesterday-gone-today-new-jersey.html
New YorkAll cities and countiesPeddlers' licenses1840-1896, 1949-1956Available on one roll of microfilm at the New York State Archives, but not available anywhere else. No index available. Sample images reprinted in the New York Archives periodical, Volume 15, Number 3, Winter 2016.New York State Department of Education, parent agency of the New York State ArchivesNote that these are state-level peddlers' licenses, while most licenenses were garnted by cities and municipalities. (We should also look into getting those city-level licenses...) Also, these particular state licenses were only those granted to peddlers who were selling non-food goods from overseas suppliers. See NY State Archives catalog record here: http://nysl.nysed.gov/uhtbin/cgisirsi.exe/?ps=WHG88k24Co/NYSL/59530061/123
New YorkAlbanyBirth indexUnknown-1914City of Albany births prior to 1914 are not included on the statewide microfiche birth index that is available at the various New York State libraries.Probably the Albany city clerk's office or the Albany county clerk's officeSee also: http://nysa32.nysed.gov/a/research/res_topics_gen_vitalstats.shtml
New YorkAlbanyDeath indexUnknown-1914City of Albany deaths prior to 1914 are not included on the statewide microfiche death index that is available at the various New York State libraries.Probably the Albany city clerk's office or the Albany county clerk's officeSee also: http://nysa32.nysed.gov/a/research/res_topics_gen_vitalstats.shtml
New YorkAlbanyMarriage indexUnknown-1908City of Albany marriages prior to 1908 are not included on the statewide microfiche death index that is available at the various New York State libraries.Probably the Albany city clerk's office or the Albany county clerk's officeSee also: http://nysa32.nysed.gov/a/research/res_topics_gen_vitalstats.shtml
New YorkAlbany countyNaturalization records1821-1991The records were originally microfilmed, then were digitized. However, the county is refusing to make these digitized files available to the general public. These are housed at the Albany County Hall of Records (95 Tivoli Street, Albany, NY 12207). Only staff members are allowed to browse the digitized versions and seem put out when asked to do it. Staff also stated they would not be made available online due to them being "court documents" despite both court documents and naturalization records from many other counties being available online.Probably the Albany county clerk's officeThere is a searchable index available online at http://app.albanycounty.com/achor/naturalizations/ . But this index isn't showing the actual images, which is what should be available under FOIL.
New YorkBuffaloBirth indexUnknown-1914City of Buffalo births prior to 1914 are not included on the statewide microfiche birth index that is available at the various New York State libraries.Probably the Buffalo city clerk's office or the Erie county clerk's officeSee also: http://nysa32.nysed.gov/a/research/res_topics_gen_vitalstats.shtml
New YorkBuffaloDeath indexUnknown-1914City of Buffalo deaths prior to 1914 are not included on the statewide microfiche death index that is available at the various New York State libraries.Probably the Buffalo city clerk's office or the Erie county clerk's officeSee also: http://nysa32.nysed.gov/a/research/res_topics_gen_vitalstats.shtml
New YorkBuffaloMarriage indexUnknown-1908City of Buffalo marriages prior to 1908 are not included on the statewide microfiche death index that is available at the various New York State libraries.Probably the Buffalo city clerk's office or the Erie county clerk's officeSee also: http://nysa32.nysed.gov/a/research/res_topics_gen_vitalstats.shtml
New YorkAll cities outside of New York CityBirth index1881-1940Available only on-site in a select number of New York State libraries, on microfiche (not microfilm); must be searched year-by-year. Unknown if ever published in printed form. Not available on FamilySearch microfilm.New York State Department of HealthIn theory, all birth records that are 75+ years old should be available to the public, which would mean all births in or prior to 1940; but in reality, the NYS archives only hold thie indices up through 1937. Where are the 1937-1940 indices? Note that this request is for the index only. People who were born in state facilities such as prisons or mental hospitals are not in the index. See also: http://nysa32.nysed.gov/a/research/res_topics_gen_vitalstats.shtml Does not include Albany, Buffalo, or Yonkers prior to 1914. Also note that some years are arranged alphabetically by surname, but some years are arranged by the surname's SOUNDEX code.
New YorkAll cities outside of New York CityDeath indexJune 1880 through 1957Available only on-site in a select number of New York State libraries, on microfiche (not microfilm); must be searched year-by-year. Unknown if ever published in printed form. Not available on FamilySearch microfilm.New York State Department of HealthSome years are arranged alphabetically by surname, but some years are arranged by the surname's SOUNDEX code. Does not include Albany, Buffalo, or Yonkers prior to 1914. People who died in state facilities such as prisons or mental hospitals are not in the index. The death index for 1957-1965 is not included in this request because it is already available as a downloadable spreadsheet on the state's open data portal; it is updated every quarter. Link: https://health.data.ny.gov/Health/Genealogical-Research-Death-Index-Beginning-1957/vafa-pf2s E-mail correspondence with the State shows that this is one of the top most-downloaded files from the State open data portal, demonstrating the popularity of genealogy data.
New YorkAll cities outside of New York CityDelayed birth indexUnknown-1881 (mostly 1870's)Available only at the New York State Archives. Unknown if ever published in printed form. Not available on FamilySearch microfilm.New York State Department of HealthSeries B2029. See also: http://nysa32.nysed.gov/a/research/res_topics_gen_vitalstats.shtml
New YorkAll cities outside of New York CityDivorce index1963-presentUnlcear where the index is stored and in what format -- possbly at New York State Archives? Because of years involved, would not be surprised if this is part-microfilmed and part-digital. Not available on the State open data portal.New York State Department of HealthNew York divorce records are sealed for 100 years, but the basic index might be available under FOIL.
New YorkAll cities outside of New York CityDomestic partnership indexFebruary 2006-presentNever been available to the public in any form. Not available in State or city open data portals. Not available on microfilm at any libraries. Not available on FamilySearch microfilm. Not available in printed materials. Not available on the State open data portal.TBD.Note that domestic partnerships in New York State do not just include same-sex couples who were denied marriage rights prior to July 2011. They also include opposite-sex couples who needed to register for benefits together.
New YorkAll cities outside of New York CityMarriage index1881-1965The index to NYS marriages that are more than 50 years old are available only on-site in a select number of New York State libraries, on microfiche (not microfilm); must be searched year-by-year. Unknown if ever published in printed form. Not available on the State open data portal. City of Rochester has put its own marriage index online through 1940; link: http://www.cityofrochester.gov/marriagerecords/ FamilySearch has many counties' marriage records (not just the index!) freely available in the roughly 1908-1935 time period; records were collected directly from county courthouses instead of the New York State Library. See list here: https://familysearch.org/search/catalog/1618491 If actual records can be open, why not the state index?New York State Department of HealthSome years are arranged alphabetically by surname, but some years are arranged by the surname's SOUNDEX code. Note that this request is for the index only, but based on the availability of actual marriage records to FamilySearch, it may be possible to do many separate FOIL requests to each county courthouse to get actual certificate copies. See also: http://nysa32.nysed.gov/a/research/res_topics_gen_vitalstats.shtml
New YorkNew York CityBirth certificates1910-1914Available for individual ordering through the Department of Health, but not available as a group in the NYC Municipal Archives, although they should be, since they are now more than 100 years old. Not available anywhere else, never microfilmed by FamilySearch nor freely available to researchers.New York City Department of HealthThese files were supposed to be turned over to the NYC Municipal Archives and become fully public once they were more than 100 years old. Yet the last batch of these certificates to be turned over were the 1909 certificates. Why have the 1910-1914 certificates not been turned over and made public yet?
New YorkNew York CityBirth index1909-1982NYC birth index books are available at the NYPL on 42nd Street. The 1888-1967 books are in open shelving in Milstein room 121, but the 1968-1982 books are "in a locked cage and you need to have the reference librarian pull them for you", according to reports. Digital photos of those books are not allowed. The NY State Library in Albany also has bound volumes of the 1907-1918 NYC birth index (call number R,974.71,N532,87-1534). No other library copies are known. A volunteer-led effort by a genealogy non-profit (the IGG) has already transcribed the 1878-1909 index into a free searchable database, which is also available on Ancestry.com. FamilySearch recently put online transcriptions of the births from 1846-1909. The 1948-1965 index is available on FamilySearch microfilm, but that index was never made available to the public from the city. That microfilm series is photographs of an old style dot matrix printout, implying that at least at the time the films were made a computerized index was available somewhere.New York City Clerk's Office. FOIL officer is their attorney.We anticipate a fight to get the less-than-fifty-year old indices released, so we might break this request up into two requests, one for 1909-1965 and one for 1965-1982, to at least get the first batch of records into the public domain faster.
New YorkNew York CityDeath index or certificatesJanuary 1822, possibly February 1822Volume 4 of the deaths for this time period (book starts in 1821) does not seem to list all the deaths in NYC for January 1822, just a few of them. Were some of them missed in the original NYC Municipal Archives microfilming of the book? For example, there are several people listed in the NYC Inventories of estates for 1822 which reference threir deaths in NYC in January 1822.New York City Municipal Archives
New YorkNew York CityDeath certificates1948-1965Clarification needed -- are these certificates allowed to be open under privacy laws?New York City Department of HealthClarification needed -- are these certificates allowed to be open under privacy laws?
New YorkNew York CityDeath index1949-1982The NYPL at 42nd Street, in Milstein room 119, has bound volumes of the NYC death index available for 1957-1982, but the book for 1968 is missing. The NY State Library in Albany also has bound volumes of the 1907-1918 NYC death index (call number R,974.71,N532,87-1534). No other library copies are known. A volunteer-led effort is currently underway by a genealogy non-profit (the IGG) to transcribe the 1949-1962 index into a free searchable database. The 1948-1965 index is available on FamilySearch microfilm, but was never made available to the public from the city. This microfilm series is photographs of an old style dot matrix printout, implying that at least at the time the films were made a computerized index was available somewhere. New York City Clerk's Office. FOIL officer is their attorney.We anticipate a fight to get the less-than-fifty-year old indices released, so we might break this request up into two requests, one for 1949-1965 and one for 1965-1982, to at least get the first batch of records into the public domain faster.
New YorkNew York CityDomestic partnership indexJuly 1997-presentNever been available to the public in any form. Not available in State or city open data portals. Not available on microfilm at any libraries. Not available on FamilySearch microfilm. Not available in printed materials.TBD.Note that domestic partnerships in New York City do not just include same-sex couples who were denied marriage rights prior to July 2011. They also include opposite-sex couples who needed to register for benefits together.
New YorkNew York CityMarriage certificates1938-1965Available for individual ordering through the Department of Health, but not available as a group in the NYC Municipal Archives, although they should be, since they are now more than 50 years old. Not available anywhere else, never microfilmed by FamilySearch nor freely available to researchers.New York City Clerk's Office. FOIL officer is their attorney.These files were supposed to be turned over to the NYC Municipal Archives and become fully public once they were more than 50 years old. Yet the last batch of these certificates to be turned over were the 1937 certificates.. Why have the 1938-1965 certificates not been turned over and made public yet?
New YorkNew York CityMarriage index1938-presentNot available in State or city open data portals. Not available on microfilm at any libraries. Not available on FamilySearch microfilm. NOTE: recently discovered that the NY State Library in Albany also has bound volumes of the 1907-1918 NYC marriage index (call number R,974.71,N532,87-1534), but no other printed or available copies are known.New York City Clerk's Office. FOIL officer is their attorney.We anticipate a fight to get the less-than-fifty-year old indices released, so we might break this request up into two requests, one for 1938-1965 and one for 1965-1982, to at least get the first batch of records into the public domain faster.
New YorkNew York City - Manhattan only (New York county, plus possibly small parts of Bronx county, based on years)Administration records index1830-1876Available only on-site at 31 Chambers Street, Room 402, in searchable databases on computers that do not allow the use of USB keys (printing allowed only). FamilySearch has scanned images for some, but not all, of these years, but unsure whether they also have a searchable index for them.New York County Surrogate’s Court Records DepartmentThe index database is labeled as being for the years 1830-1876 and it is in File Maker Pro 7 format.
New YorkNew York City - Manhattan only (New York county, plus possibly small parts of Bronx county, based on years)Name changes (petitions and orders) index1848-1934Index seems to be a database that was compiled based on index cards, which cross-reference old name and new name. There may also be indexes in books on open shelves in Room 103B at 60 Centre Street.New York County Clerk's Office (note: county, not city)For Manhattan only, the records are stored at 31 Chambers Street (Room 703 -- 7th Floor), even though they're New York County Clerk's Office ("Division of Old Records") records rather than Municipal Archives records. These records are likely for the New York County (Manhattan) Supreme Court, not for all of the city.
New YorkNew York City - Manhattan only (New York county)Divorce indexUnknown, but probably early 20th century onlyIndex seems to be a database that was compiled based on index cards that reference names and case numbers.New York County Clerk's Office (note: county, not city)For Manhattan only, the records are stored at 31 Chambers Street (Room 703), even though they're New York County Clerk's Office ("Division of Old Records") records rather than Municipal Archives records. Divorce proceedings are sealed for 100 years, but the divorce index may be available under FOIL.
New YorkNew York City - Manhattan only (New York county)Probate records - estate files index1964-presentAvailable only on-site at 31 Chambers Street, Room 402, in searchable databases on computers that do not allow the use of USB keys (printing allowed only). Not available through FamilySearch (which has probate materials from New York State, but not city).New York County Surrogate’s Court Records DepartmentIt is possible that both the index and the actual scanned images of the wills may be available under FOIL. Probate records prior to 1964 may be stored offsite, possibly not scanned, would be harder to get. NY County Surrogate's Court is currently charging researchers $90 for mailed requests just for the index search alone if the death is more than 35 years old (Surrogate’s Procedure Act Section 2402, item 14) -- which is outrageous considering how much of this is already digitized and easily searchable in person. Index database is kept in File Maker Pro 7 format, scanned estate files are in PDF format, labeled with year number then a hyphen then file number.
New YorkNew York City - Manhattan only (New York county)Tax files index1910-1950Available only on-site at 31 Chambers Street, Room 402, in searchable databases on computers that do not allow the use of USB keys (printing allowed only). Not available through FamilySearch.New York County Surrogate’s Court Records DepartmentThe index databases are usually broken up into five year chunks (i.e. 1910-1914) in File Maker Pro 7 format, except for the larger 1940-1950 file.
New YorkNorth Elba (Lake Placid)Burial records, burial receipts, and death certificates1850-1965Handwritten and typed burial record and receipt on a index sized card, attached to a receipt and death certificate. Stored in a index card sized set of wooden drawers at the North Elba (Lake Placid) NY town clerks office.North Elba (Lake Placid), New York town clerk's officePart of a larger documentation project for the town of North Elba. Records are available through 2015, but probably only the ones through 1965 or 1966 would be open to the public under FOIL. See also: https://digitalabraham.com/
New YorkOneida countyProbate recordsunknown year (1700's?) through 1830Country probate records prior to 1830 are microfilmed and stored in the back of the courthouse, but are off-limits to the public. County probate records after 1830 are available on FamilySearch microfilms. NEHGS has published an abstract of the records, but that's not the same thing as public access to the microfilms.Probably the Oneida County Surrogate's Court Records DepartmentThe court is charging the public $90 just to look up something in their index, nevermind any costs for getting the actual file. Restricted access to the film means that there is no other way to know what else is on the film.
New YorkYonkersBirth indexUnknown-1914City of Yonkers births prior to 1914 are not included on the statewide microfiche birth index that is available at the various New York State libraries.Probably the Yonkers city clerk's office or the Westchester county clerk's officeSee also: http://nysa32.nysed.gov/a/research/res_topics_gen_vitalstats.shtml
New YorkYonkersDeath indexUnknown-1914City of Yonkers deaths prior to 1914 are not included on the statewide microfiche death index that is available at the various New York State libraries.Probably the Yonkers city clerk's office or the Westchester county clerk's officeSee also: http://nysa32.nysed.gov/a/research/res_topics_gen_vitalstats.shtml
New YorkYonkersMarriage indexUnknown-1908City of Yonkers marriages prior to 1908 are not included on the statewide microfiche marriage index that is available at the various New York State libraries.Probably the Yonkers city clerk's office or the Westchester county clerk's officeSee also: http://nysa32.nysed.gov/a/research/res_topics_gen_vitalstats.shtml
OhioAll cities and countiesDeath records (Health Department subset)pre-1908Prior to 1908, Ohio death certificates could also be filed with local county Health Departments, although it was uncommon. These were sometimes used if, for example, a non-Ohio person died in Ohio and they needed a local burial permit. But these records do not appear to be open or available online or on microfilm, although the later statewide records are available.Probably filed county-by-county with local Health Departments, so may need to make 87 separate requests to get these releasedOhio is an open records state, and death certificates for Ohio through 1953 are open records, so these earlier pre-1908 Health Department records should be open too; they were probably just overlooked as they were not as common.
OhioAll cities and countiesAll kinds of indices1908-presentOhio is an open records state, its certificates are open to the general public, and many of its indices are already available on various genealogy websites, but only in parts. We should work on getting a complete set of all the indices and releasing it for download as open data.Probably the Ohio Department of Health
South CarolinaAll cities and countiesMarriage index1950-2012Right now, the marriage index for South Carolina is available through 1945 on FamilySearch and through 1965 (although incomplete) on Ancestry. But judging from online resources, it seems as though the basic marriage index (not certificates) should be legally available to the public through December 2012, although it's not online anywhere.South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental ControlSe also: http://www.scdhec.gov/VitalRecords/MarriageCertificates/
West VirginiaClay countyMarriage certificatesUnknown, but probably 19th and early/mid 20th centuriesMarriage certificates from this county were microfilmed by FamilySearch and a searchable index of the extracted information is available on Ancestry.com. However, access to and photocopies of the original certificates are reportedly being denied to researchers by the Clay county clerks.Probably the Clay county clerk's officeWest Virginia FOIL does have an exemption for "Archives, Historic Documents, and Manuscripts"; however, it seems this is meant to be narrowly construed to cover only "the location of undeveloped historic, prehistoric archaeological, paleontological and battlefield sites, or gifts to a public body with donor restrictions." Public vital records like marriage certificates do not seem to fit that criteria and therefore do not seem to be exempt from FOIL.
U.S. Virgin IslandsAll cities and countiesDeath certificatesAll yearsReport from Facebook: "I have hit a roadblock with the vital records office in St Croix, US Virgin Islands. I was asking for a death record from 1920, and was told that, although they have the records, they won't give access to anyone who isn't a spouse or child. I explained that there are no spouses and no children left for a man who died in 1920. It was explained to me that requests for death records had been "abused" and were no longer fulfilled except under the special circumstances. When I persisted (politely!) and moved up the chain, I got someone who said I could request it for a $75 fee which would cover 5 certificates (of course I only needed one). Got the impression that the staff member was making it up as they went, making it expensive and difficult in order to discourage requests."TBD.Need to research which FOI law applies to the USVI.