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Good News: The NYS Vital Rcords Index is Coming Online!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

I am writing this at the Rochester Genealogical Society (RGS) meeting in Rochester, NY where I came to hear a speaker from the New York State Archives who is presenting a program about some exciting news regarding the New York State Department of Health Vital Records Index.

Gail Fischer Rochester Genealogical Society 092012

I had an advance notice that there was a possible announcement coming from a lady who told me a couple of weeks ago that the state had a pilot program started to put copies of the Vital Records Index online.

This RGS meeting was announced by Dick Halsey on the NYMONROE rootsweb mailing list, that the speaker, Gail A. Fischer from the New York State Archives will talk on how they are collaborating with to index and put online the vital records index that is available on microfiche. So naturally I just had to find out the straight scoop and off to Rochester we go.

Gail gave a full account of how the New York State Archives had partnered with in 2009 with a three year contract to scan and digitize some parts of the collection of the state archives and to make it available for FREE to NYS residents. They have been doing that right along and it has been a success so the contract was recently renewed.

Some parts of the collection that are available now are; 1892, 1915 and 1925 state census, US federal census mortality schedules for New York 1850 – 1880. The 1880 census schedule of Defective, Dependent and Delinquent Classes and others that you will find when you log in to your free account.

Coming soon through the Ancestry partnership will be World War I Service Cards, NYS census for 1865, 1875, 1892 and 1905. There will also be Naturalization Proceedings and Probate Records.

Ms Fischer gave a lengthy accounting of many of the other types of collections of interest to genealogists at the NYS Archives.

To access your free account at Ancestry you need to log in through the State Archives website at: – Click on “Research” on the left and then the New York Guick Link.

This is what you will find: New York
Several New York repositories have formed a partnership with to digitize family history records and make them available on line for free. The list of records available is located in the bottom left corner of the New York web page. Descriptions of the records as well as the holding organizations are provided through the links and logos on the New York web page.
How do I sign-up?
Free access to New York is available to New York State residents. This access requires a free New York account.
To begin, enter your zip code below, and you will be taken to the New York search page.
New York State Zip Code:

So go ahead and make your first search and then you will be prompted to fill out your personal information in order to acquire your Free Ancestry New York account. After signing up this one time you will not be required to do this again. If you already are a paid Ancestry member you will not have to fill out the info, it will just take you to your search information.

So the exciting news about the Vital Records Index is that a similar arrangement will be made with another company also owned by Ancestry where the Birth, Death and Marriage Index will be accessed at The Free login details was not provided yet and it was not entirely clear to me if it would be free or subscription based, but be patient and we will find out real soon. When I hear more, I will be sure to tell everyone here on the Upstate New York Genealogy Blog.

The index itself will give you the name of the person, the type of event, the date and location, along with an identifying certificate number. After you know this you may then order copies of the records from the Department of Health in Albany, or you may go to the city, town or village clerk where the event occurred.  The Albany method still has a backlog of months, but normally you will have results at the local level in a few days.

The Rochester Genealogical Society meetings are held at 7:00 p.m. at Asbury First Methodist Church, 1050 East Avenue.

Eyewitness Report of NGS Conference in Salt Lake City

Our friend Gary Jones, an employee of the Onondaga County Public Library in Syracuse, NY has sent in some items of interest to our Upstate New York Genealogy blog.

“What a great conference and the Family History Library was unbelievable.   It will be a while for me to process what I learned but will definitely email you some tidbits.

I did attend the reception where the Senior VP of Product Development Eric Shoup and CEO Tim Sullivan announced a revamped search engine that will offer new and more precise search options for the advanced user while maintaining a simpler search option for the novice. will release a Mac version of Family Tree Maker before the end of the year. I saw a demo of the alpha version and really like it.  I’ll be beta testing the MAC version of FTM for them.  I switched to Mac 2 years ago and will never go back to a PC, so I am really excited about this.

And yes, they will have an iPad application to go with it! Later, Gary.”

Another item of interest in addition to our recent report about the 300 million new names to the LDS beta search engine they have added an unknown quantity of death notices and other historical records.  The largest quantity of extracted vital records that have been available previously has been of birth/christening and marriage records, so it is great to see that LDS is now also adding large quantities of death records.  I used it on a few names and came up with some awesome quality census images also.

You may search for this series at:

Read our previous post on this subject here:

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