NYC launches online platform with free access to 9.3 million historical birth, death, and marriage records

March 16, 2022

Courtesy of The New York City Municipal Archives

The New York City Municipal Archives has launched a digital search platform as part of a mass digitization project that will ultimately provide online access to 13.3 million historical birth, death, and marriage records. At 70 percent complete, the NYC Historical Vital Records Project currently has 9.3 million genealogical records accessible in digital form, free of charge.

“The Historical Vital Records project is an absolute game-changer for those tracing New Yorkers,” D. Joshua Taylor, president of the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society, said in a statement. “This unprecedented free access to birth, marriage, and death records will help millions discover their New York heritage.”

You can search the archives by certificate number if you have it–this is the fastest method. You can also search for certificate numbers using several available databases. You can search by name (beta mode), and future phases of the application may include opportunities for crowd-sourcing to improve the accuracy of the index.

Future versions will also return the certificate number (if found) and instructions on how to view and order a copy of the certificate pending digitization. Be sure to check out the search tips for better luck with your search.

Historical Vital Records of NYC  is an initiative by the Department of Records and Information Services. The New York City Municipal Archives’ vital records collection is one of the nation’s largest. Begun in 2013, the mass digitization project is currently in its second phase, which involves digitizing the marriage license series from 1908 to 1949. The next phase will create high-quality images of Manhattan death records dating 1867 to 1948, currently only accessed via microfilm.

Regarding the project’s latest launch, Mayor Eric Adams said in a statement: “These historical records will not only serve as an essential resource for family historians across the country and around the world but will allow everyday New Yorkers to learn more about their personal history and explore their roots. My administration is committed to expanding access to city resources and providing New Yorkers with the information they need.”

The Municipal Archives’ mission is to provide comprehensive access to the collections through improved descriptions, digitization, preservation, and conservation. You can take a look at the collection guides, browse the digital gallery, and read the blog to learn more.

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