Archive for the ‘vital records’ Category

New York, State Health Department, Genealogical Research Death Index Starting to Come Online

Early this morning I logged onto to look at something on the 1855 NYS Census, when I noticed that there were now 33 collections, instead of the normal 32, in the New York State collection of actual scans of microfilmed records and data bases.

Glancing down through the list I discovered the newest title, having just become available as of December 19th,
 ”New York, State Health Department, Genealogical Research Death Index, 1957-1963″ -  Yippee!  It has started!

We have been hearing rumors that the NYS Health Department, Vital Records, Death Index was expected to be made available online in the future.  I have written about this in a previous blog post  and you will see three major articles that I have written about the NYS Vital Records at the top right hand side of my blog here at

1963 is the current 50 year limit that we must wait to look at the death record index.  So perhaps this is precursor to wonderful things to come.  Perhaps the 1957 to 1963 chunk is just a trial at LDS or just the first release of all of the remaining death record index listings back to about 1880.  Let’s hope so anyway.

After quickly looking for some immediate ancestors or family members that might have died during this short period of time, I could not find any, so I did a search on my surname HILLENBRAND and came up with one that I knew a little bit about. having worked on this line for some many years.  This is not my immediate family but is a second group that also lived in Syracuse and Onondaga County.

Here is a sample of what you can expect to find:

William L Hillenbrand, “New York, State Health Department, Genealogical Research Death Index, 1957-1963″
Name:     William L Hillenbrand
Event Type:     Death
Event Date:     28 Oct 1962
Event Place:     Syracuse, Onondaga, New York
Gender:     Male
Age:     85
Birth Year (Estimated):     1877
Death Year:     1962
File Number:     75441


NYS Death Index Sample


Note that you will find a date and place of death, age and an estimated year of birth.  More importantly you will find the all important “File Number”.  This is what you will need when you apply for a copy of the actual death certificate from the Dept. of Health in Albany.  If you apply to a local jurisdiction, city or town clerk’s office, the File Number might not be of any help because I am told that it was assigned in Albany, but it will speed things up for you at state level.

As stated previously the NYS Vital Records Division of the NYS Health Department started a collection of official notifications of Births, Deaths and Marriages commencing in 1880.  As also reported, many of these are lacking in the early years for what ever reason, but generally speaking from about World War I onward there is a good chance that you will find a record on your Upstate New York Genealogy research in this huge microfiche collection.

You may look at the full collection on microfiche at several libraries and locations throughout the state.  See previous posts for a listing.  The above referenced digital collection is the very first time that I know of that any part of this massive VR Index has been put online and I give major kudos to all parties involved that made this happen.

Here is how you can search this online collection.
Go to click on: [Search].
Scroll down to the bottome of the screen and click on: [United States]
Scroll down on the left to: [New York].
Then scroll down to third up from the bottom,
New York, State Health Department, Genealogical Research Death Index, 1957-1963

Note that this is a compiled data base taken from the microfiche and not copies of the actual fiche.

This fabulous news comes on the same day that sad news comes from my friend, F. Richard Barr who  just forwarded a blog post written by The Legal Genealogist, about the Closing of the Social Security Death Index (SSDI) until three years after the person’s demise.  This act was passed by Congress in the current Budget Bill and is expected to be signed into law by President O’Bama.  You can bet that there are people attempting to have this law extended to ALL of the SSDI at some time in the future.  Stay vigilant fellow genealogists.  We can not allow this to happen!

Enjoy the new online Vital Records Death Index.
Dick Hillenbrand
Upstate New York Genealogy

Another Area in Upstate New York Now Has the NYS Vital Records Index

Binghamton in Broome County, NY now has the NYS Vital Records Microfiche Index. For those of you that reside in the Southern Tier of the state, you no longer have to drive to Albany, Syracuse, Rochester or New York City (the nearest locations that have the index), but just go to the Broome County Public Library in Binghamton to have access to the fiche set yourself.

There are some limitations on use of these index fiche as this department is staffed by volunteers and at this time, starting as of October 12th, they are only open on Mondays and Thursdays from 1 to 4 pm, and also on Tuesdays from 4 to 8pm. Each library in the state that has the index has their own rules as to how to use the fiche.

So for births, deaths and marriages that occurred in the Upstate New York regions commencing in 1880, you might find the name of the individual, the date of the event and the village, city or town that the event occurred in. Thanks to reader Esther Griffin for the heads up on this Broome County announcement.

Broome County Public Library
185 Court Street
Binghamton, NY 13901

Update: 10/14/10

This just in from:

Phyllis Ryan Rogan
Reference Librarian
Head, Genealogy Dept.
Steele Memorial Library

I would like your patrons to know that the Steele Memorial Library, [in Elmira,] Chemung County Library District also has the NYS Vital Records Index.

We are open M-T 9-9 F 9-5 Sat 9-5 and Sunday 1-5. [Phyllis Ryan Rogan]

To read a lot more about the NYS Vital Records Index please refer to our other previous posts on this subject:

1) – 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 articles]

If you hear any genealogy news in your neck of the woods, please let me know and I might be able to use it here on the UNYG Blog.

Dick Hillenbrand

Important Vital Records Bill in Assembly

This message was sent as a comment on the old version of the blogger blog that we no longer update.  It is important enough to genealogists that I thought we should make a blog post out of it here on the Upstae New York Genealogy Blog at

Thanks for letting us know Jim L.

If anyone has any more information on this subject we will publish it here on this blog.

There is a bill in the New York State Assembly,

BILL NO A02834
COSPNSR McKevitt, Bacalles

Amd S4174, Pub Health L

that relates to the cost of review and copying of vital records for genealogical purposes; reduces current cost by half; also provides that for applicants who show current membership in a genealogical society, such applicants may review vital records at no charge; also provides that all copies of files and records secured under this subdivision shall be stamped, “For Genealogical Purposes Only”

Use this link for more details and to follow the bills progress.

Jim L.

Vital Records Lookups, Update to the Update

This morning the Onondaga County Public Library (OCPL) sent a request that I post some additional information regarding their offer to do Free Lookups.

“OCPL will do limited lookups – a 5-year span on births, deaths and marriages. Questions are answered in order and often may take several days. Please be aware that many fiche are difficult to read, and while staff tries to be as accurate as possible any information stated is as it appears.

The index begins in 1880 and while NY State passed a law that year requiring the filing of these records, they still weren’t uniformly or consistently filed until well into the 1900′s. For more information about the index and what it covers:

Read the first article in this series by going to this link:  How to obtain copies of Vital Records for Genealogical Purposes in Upstate New York.

Read the second article in this series by going to this link:  New York State Vital Records Microfiche Indexes Update

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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.

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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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More Assumption Church Marriage Records – Germans – Irish – French of Upstate New York

Dick Barr has done it again. He extracted about 800 marriages from the Catholic Assumption Church Records in Syracuse, and they have been published by CNYGS in their Journal “Tree Talks.”

The following is an announcement from CNYGS.

Church of the Assumption marriages celebrated between 1844 and 1864 are also now fully indexed in the December, 2007 issue of the Central New York Genealogical Society’s journal, “Tree Talks” (72 pages, nearly 800 marriages, primarily of Germans, but including some Irish and French marriages from Syracuse and the surrounding area as well).

The typical entry in this index contains the date of the marriage at Assumption Church, the names of the bride and groom, the parents, the witnesses and the officiating priest, but often also includes ages and residency or place of origin.

Original spellings and diacritical marks have been meticulously transcribed by Mr. F. Richard Barr.

Send a $15.00 check or money order payable to the Central New York Genealogical Society to: CNYGS – Publications, P.O. Box 104, Colvin Station, Syracuse, NY 13205.”

Remember that not all of these people were from Syracuse and Onondaga county. Assumption being one of the most prominent early Catholic churches attracted people from Oswego and other surrounding counties.

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