Follow Friday: NYC Vital Records

If you think one of your ancestors was born, or died, or married in New York City, this is for you: a database of New York City vital records containing thousands of entries.

Online. Searchable.

This miracle is made possible by the volunteers of the Genealogy Federation of Long Island. According to the site, members of the Italian and German Genealogy groups have scanned more than 30,000 pages of documents and amassed an online database of over 2,760,000 death certificates. That’s the death certificate index alone. There are also marriage and naturalization databases well worth exploring.

The indexes are easy to search by surname. You can specify exact spelling, Soundex or use a wildcard.

If you search the death index and get a hit, you’ll see a chart showing the person’s last name, first name, age, date of death, the certificate number and the borough that issued the certificate.

The date range covered depends upon the type and location of records. For instance, the death index covers 1891 to 1948. The database is a work in progress, so if someone doesn’t turn up in a search, it’s never a bad idea to check back after several months and see what new updates have been entered.

Thanks to this database, you could order a certificate by mail without springing for a potentially costly search. Or you can  go to the Municipal Archives in Manhattan armed with the exact certificate numbers you need, which is a godsend if time is short.

When you click on the link you are initially taken to a page with a stern warning — “No More Databases — Unless.” It’s eye-popping, but makes the point. (Scroll down, and a button takes you to the indexes.) Efforts like this are only possible through goodwill — whether it’s volunteers donating time or well-wishers donating funds.

Link: New York City Vital Records Indexes