New York State Vital Records Microfiche Indexes Update

Update to New York State Vital Records Microfiche Indexes. — Free Look Ups!

The recent posting that we put up on this Blog, “How to Obtain Copies of Vital Records for Genealogical Purposes in New York State,” has created quite a buzz. Now we have some very good news for you distant researchers!

The Local History/Genealogy Department of the Onondaga County Public Library (OCPL) in Syracuse has one of the eight sets of the microfiche indexes to Births, Deaths and Marriages, that cover the largest part of Upstate New York.

Librarian, Holly Sammons, at OCPL has made the offer to do the actual look-ups for distant patrons. This is just one of the marvelous services that this most excellent facility has to offer.

That is just about the best news ever for people that live in areas that do not have a set of these Vital Records microfiche available. My personal thoughts are that patrons should respect this extremely generous offer and to not inundate the staff all at once with requests.

Holly said that they will be happy to chat with patrons by telephone, through email or will even take requests by U.S. Mail. You should check out their excellent website also which gives additional information about their collections and services.

Holly Sammons, Librarian
Onondaga County Public Library
Local History/Genealogy
447 So Salina St.
Syracuse, NY 13202

OCPL website:

OCPL email address:

Holly just sent this additional information just before I posted this Blog, so please heed the following instructions: “Just one caveat, we can’t do open ended searches like – my great grandmother died sometime after 1900 can you find her death! Some parameters are good and necessary. We used to do a limit of a 5-year search, just to keep things from getting out of hand. There’s a fine line between a look up and doing in-depth research!”

Read our previous post about how to obtain vital records certificate copies for genealogy HERE:

Researchers might want to check with the other libraries and holders of this collection around the state to see if they offer the same service.

Thank you OCPL, from Upstate New York Genealogy Blog.

Visit our main website at

Read the original message on this subject here: “How to Obtain Copies of Vital Records.”

Read the third message on this subject here: “Update to the Update to How to Obtain Copies of Vital Records.”

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31 Responses to “New York State Vital Records Microfiche Indexes Update”

  • Greg:

    Dick, do you happen to know the range of years covered by this source?


  • unyg:

    You will want to read the original Blog message about this subject. It is very lengthy and it will be a whole lot easier that to have me say it all again. The law started in 1880/1881.

  • J.G.:

    I see nothing there. What a waste of time

  • unyg:

    If you want to wait just a little longer the page will build. If someone is on an older computer, or a dialup Internet connection it usually takes a little while longer for the page to fill in. Don’t ask me why, I have tried to speed it up the best I can.

    Patience is a virtue.

  • Daryl V:

    that is great.!!!

  • unyg:

    Glad that it will help you Daryl.

    Thanks very much for the feedback.

    Thank you to all of you that respond, it means a whole lot to me, and some times I forget to say how much I appreciate all of your comments.

    Thank you all!


  • Linda in Costa Rica:

    Thank you, Dick, for sharing this great news!

    in Costa Rica

  • unyg:

    Linda in Costa Rica!

    Your’s is just the case where this service is very much needed.

    I’m happy for you.

  • Sue:

    Genealogists would tailor their requests for free lookups if they knew the
    sequence of the vital recs on the fiche.
    For example; if one wanted a copy of the data for all the Van
    Loons/Loans/Lones, and if the fiche are sequenced by surname, and if the
    looker-upper could just shoot a copy of that portion of a microfiche, then a
    genealogist such as me, with a relatively rare surname, would get their data
    and shut up and go away.
    If, however, the fiche are in date sequence, or by several date ranges,
    then the genealogist would tailor their request for whatever Van
    Loon/Loan/Lones are in a particular date range.
    No one wants to be obnoxious and say, “please give me all the
    data on SMITH”, but I sure would like all the data on the VanLoons — I mean
    that is REALLY what I want, and for rare surnames, there is no logical
    reason why it cannot be provided if it is all on one page of a microfiche.
    I have never read or heard what fields are on the fiche, what sequence they
    are in, or for that matter which vital records are available (B?-M?-D?) so I
    do not know if asking for all the VL’s would be out of line.
    Dick, maybe your blog could contain an image of a microfiche page (maybe
    the Van L___ section – ha!)

  • unyg:


    If you take a look at the original Blog message about this subject, see the Link on the last Blog, it explains it very well.

    Actually that type of request will NOT be filled, as they are not arranged all nice and alphabetical. Read the original Blog and it is all spelled out.

    OCPL will most likely be helping with very specific requests for a known person and approximate date within a couple of years.

  • Joye:

    I have been unable to access informationon the free look ups. Where
    should I send a request?

  • unyg:

    Joye and others.

    I suspected this might happen, but please try it again. The Blog site is getting thousands of hits and it is just responding slowly. If you go to and wait for the page to fill in (it will at first appear quite dark,) it will fill in eventually. If you are on broadband there should be no problem. If dialup it will take longer, but hey free is worth the wait.

  • M.S.:

    As a West Coast resident, I was delighted to hear that NY records would somehow be made available to those of us who are unable to drive down to the local NY library. NY seems to have been very shy about letting the rest of us learn anything. Is this my impression, or is it so?

    Having drained online resources and come up dry, I would welcome the opportunity to work with original records, which may be more reliable than “cookie-cutter” family trees.

    Good luck, everyone!!! Are we going to be able to get help from the Onondaga library?

  • unyg:

    M.S. Thanks for the comment.

    Let’s hope it works out for you.

  • Pam:

    Great, thank you so much. I have been trying and it gives me a
    lot of info, but not much that I need.


  • unyg:

    Pam, Thanks for the input.

    I enjoyed our little Southern Tier chat.

  • Susan:

    This email is to anyone who hasn’t researched the
    New York State Birth, Marriage, and Death index.

    There are many microfiche in this index. The births,
    marriages, and deaths are all on a separate fiche, and
    they are arranged alphabetically through certain years,
    then through soundex in the later years. The index only
    tells last name, date of event and where the record is

    I have found the best way to order the record
    after you know the last name is directly from the NYS
    Health Dept. as they will send you a copy of the actual
    records. I have never received a copy of the actual record
    from a clerk, but instead received a genealogy copy. The
    process is so much faster if you know the state record copy.

    I am only writing this so you all know what it takes to
    search the film. I am excited to learn that the Onondaga
    Library will do free look-ups for those out-of-state but wanted
    to let you know why there has to be a time frame of the event for
    the librarian searching.

  • unyg:

    Thanks Susan

  • Phylis:

    Thanks! It’s a hot ticket!

  • unyg:

    You’ve got that right. Thanks.

  • Patty:

    Interesting. I had been in contact with Holly (Syracuse Library) about
    2 years ago. She’s excellent.
    I highly recommand her.

  • unyg:

    Couldn’t agree more.


  • Julia:

    Hi - I’ve referred many people to your old blog entry on obtaining NYS vital records, but over time, it’s become a bit of a weed patch, what with all the comments adding info and added-on blog updates. And even more so with the blog change. Perhaps it would be a good time to update, re-write, and re-post the blog entry? AND WHILE YOU’RE AT IT…I went to Orange County Surrogate Court today where I asked about getting information on my GGGF’s adoption. The three clerks looked blankly at each other, scratched their heads a bit, had a brief pow-wow, then concluded that they think adoption records are sealed forever. They seemed far from authoritative on the subject. Have you any experience with this? What is NYS’s policy/law on this? The only info I could find on the NYS Health Department site was about their “Adoption Information Registry” used to facilitate information sharing among living adoptees, siblings, and birth parents. Perhaps I should send in my application with the GGGf’s info and see what happens? .^_^. The man, Benjamin Frantz, was born in 1874 (for pity sakes!), supposedly in Port Jervis, Orange County, and by 1880, he was captured on the Census already living with his adoptive family. The adoption was no secret – every family obit listed him as the “adoptive son”, “adoptive brother”, etc. Even in his father’s will, he was called the “adopted son”, the poor guy. Benjamin died in 1941. Thanks for your time, Julia

  • nygenes1:

    Hi Julia, I agree that the whole VR story should be told again in better detail. That original one evolved as more and more came to light, the most amazing is that the OCPL in Syracuse will do free lookups for anyone anywhere! If I get motivated some day and have the time I will do it, unless you want to do a guest post on the blog and make it all pretty. I am certainly not an expert on adoptions. I did work on 3 or 4 cases of modern problems with great success, but strictly through detective work and it was hard and emotional. I no longer like to work on any of them. I did work with a large team of genealogists on a huge project a year or two ago and the discussion of sealed records came up in regard to adoptions and I was told that the ones that are older than 100 years are available. However, I just did some Googling and can not find anywhere that says that is true. Probably your best source would be to get in touch with a local Triad group and I’ll bet they would have someone that knows the law. If you ask at the Dept of Health you will be spinning your wheels I fear. Triad is the best choice I think. I did have a thought though. Is that the man’s birth name or don’t you know? The 1875 Orange county census exists. If it is not his birth name you could probably start making a list of infant males and maybe something would pop out at you. Thanks for your thoughts and contact. Dick Hillenbrand

  • Alyson:

    Thank you for bringing this topic back up to attention. I too live on West coast; WA state, and have upstate NY ancestry. I was fortunate to go to Syracuse twice and visit the library, obtaining a card to make use of the upper floor genealogy section. Must say the staff there are gems! They were so very helpful to me. I was able to poke through record books and find the state ID number for a marriage record and a death record. It is certainly a worthwhile visit if you have the chance to go there…one could (and I did) wile away the hours in that library.

  • How to obtain copies of Vital Records for Genealogical Purposes in Upstate New York. | UNYG Blog:

    [...] the Update on this story here: “Update to How to Obtain Copies of Vital Records.” Read the third message on this subject here: “Update to the Update to How to Obtain Copies [...]

  • Another Area in Upstate New York Now Has the NYS Vital Records Index | UNYG Blog:

    [...] How to Obtain Copies of Vital Records for Genealogical Purposes in New York State 2) – New York State Vital Records Microfiche Indexes Update 3) – Vital Records Lookups, Update to the Update [Please be sure to read all three [...]

  • Another place has the NY Vital Records Index « Dick's Genealogy & History Corner:

    [...] Onondaga County Public Library will do a limited search in the Vital Record Indexes. Check out this post on the Upstate NY Genealogy [...]

  • Nancy Pexa:

    Eugene H. Coon died 11 Jan 1935, DeRuyter, NY Henry Pool died 19 May, 1898 Eaton, Madison Co, NY Philinda Pool died 10 Mar 1889 – Madison Co NY prob DeRuyter or Eaton Thank you for the certificate numbers

  • nygenes1:

    Can anyone help Nancy?

  • Nancy Pexa:

    I am still searching – I did get a DC for Eugene H. Coon – it named his adoptive parents — His real name is Eugene Hollenbeck — his father was Joseph Hollenbeck and supposedly died in the Civil War. He was born in Truxton but that is all I know – they were of the seventh day baptist faith. Help appreciated.

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