12 December 2017

Tombstone Tuesday: Max and Gussie Kosotsky, Beth Moses Cemetery, Pinelawn, NY

Both Max and Gussie Marcus Kosotsky were born in Lomza, Poland. How did they wind up in the landsmanshaft plot for the community of Labun, Ukraine? That was the puzzle. In this case there were a few degrees of separation, but I managed find their link.

KOSOTSKY

Here lies
Gitel daughter of Yisrael Ber
GUSSIE
MAY10, 1896
FE. 26 1980
9 ADAR 5740
BELOVED WIFE
MOTHER - GRANDMOTHER
[ ... ]

Here lies
Mordechai son of Alexander
MAX
AUGUST 27, 1896
JANUARY 29, 1982
6 SHEVAT 5742
DEVOTED HUSBAND
FATHER - GRANDFATHER
GREAT GRANDFATHER

I have been documenting those interred in First Lubiner Progressive Benevolent Association plots in Montefiore and Beth Moses Cemeteries to discover each person's association with the community of Labun (Lubin), Volhynia Gubernia, Russian Empire. For most of the people I've profiled, the relationship has been fairly clear: they were either born in or resided in the town or were related to someone who was so associated. 

Max Kosotsky was 17 when he arrived in the United States aboard the S.S. Lapland on 12 December 1911. His father, Sam, was already in New York City living at 82 Norfolk Street.[1] Max's mother's name was Chaje (Ida).

According to census records Gussie Marcus came to the United States in 1914.[2] She was originally Gitla Marczyk, one of about nine children of Israel Ber and Malka Marczyk of Lomza. Some of her brothers were in the United States before she arrived. Her parents and sister, Slowa (Sylvia), arrived in 1921.[3]

Gussie Marcus and Max Kosotsky married on 24 November 1918 in Brooklyn.[4]

In 1920, Max and Gussie lived with her brother, Harry, and his family at 1450 Madison Avenue in Manhattan. Max was an operator in a clothing factory.[5] Their daughter, Esther, had been born 19 August 1919 (Esther married Maurice Prober in 1942. She passed away on 4 October 2010.[6])

In 1925, Max and Gussie, along with their daughters Esther and Anna (born 12 April 1924; married William S. Port in 1946; died in 1967 [7]), lived in an apartment at 373 Miller Avenue, Brooklyn. Max still worked as an operator in the clothing industry.[8]

The family remained at that location through, at least, 1942 when Max's World War II draft registration included that address.[9] He worked for Jacob Marcus, one of Gussie's brothers.

In 1927, Edna Marcus, one of Gussie's sisters, married Jack Lerner, an immigrant from Labun. You may read about them here and here

Another sister, Anna Marcus, married Morris Kaimowitz, also from Lomza, on 3 June 1923. 

The connection of these Lomza natives to the First Lubiner Progressive Benevolent Assocaition plot is through Edna Marcus' husband Jack Lerner. The Lerner, Kosotsky and Kaimowitz graves are all located within plot at Beth Moses Cemetery.

Notes:
1. Manifest, S.S. Lapland, 12 December 1911, sheet 34, line 28, Moses Kozazky, age 17; images, "New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957," Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 10 December 2017). 
2. 1920 U.S. Census, New York Co., NY, population schedule, Manhattan, e.d. 1108, sheet 6A, dwelling 3, family 100, Max and Gussie Kosotsky; images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 10 December 2017); NARA microfilm publication T625, roll 1214.
  1925 New York State Census, Kings Co., NY, enumeration of inhabitants, Brooklyn, assembly district 22, election district 30, p. 36, Max and Gussie Kosotsky family; images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 10 December 2017).
3. Manifest, S.S. Finland, 7 May 1921, list 8, lines 22, 23 and 25, Izrael Ber Marczyk (age 54), Malka Marczyk (53), and Slowa Marczyk (13); images, "New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957," Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 10 December 2017).
4. Kings County, New York, marriage certificate no. 13210 (1918), Max Kosotsky and Gussie Marcus, 24 November 1918; Municipal Archives, New York City.
5. 1920 U.S. Census, NY Co., NY, population schedule, Manhattan, e.d. 1108, sheet 6A, dwell. 3, fam. 100, Max and Gussie Kosotsky.
6. Esther Prober, obituary, Connecticut Post (Bridgeport, CT), 5 October 2010; transcription, Legacy (http://www.legacy.com : accessed 10 December 2017).
7. Esther Prober, obituary, Connecticut Post (Bridgeport, CT), 5 October 2010.
8. 1925 New York State Census, Kings Co., NY, enumeration of inhabitants, Brooklyn, AD 22, ED 30, p. 36, Max and Gussie Kosotsky family.
9. U.S., World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942," images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 10 December 2017), card for Max Kosotsky, serial no. U412, Brooklyn draft board.

05 December 2017

Tombstone Tuesday: Michael and Tillie Weiss, Montefiore Cemetery, Queens, New York

I have not quite figured out everything I'd like to know about Michael and Tillie (Taube) Weiss. I have found that Tillie and her children resided in Sudilkov before emigration in 1910 and that they report being born there, as well.[1] I have not determined similar information regarding Michael.

Here lies
a saintly and modest man 
Michel son of Moshe Weiss
Died 8 Iyyar 5797

May his soul be bound in the bonds of the living

MICHAEL WEISS
DIED APRIL 19, 1937
AGE 84 YEARS

BELOVED FATHER

According to his death certificate, Michael was the son of Moses Weiss and Sarah Cohen. He was an immigrant, born in Russia and lived in the United States (and New York City) for 31 years.[2] If accurate, that would indicate immigration about 1906. I have not been able to determine if he naturalized and I have not yet located his passenger manifest.


Tillie's stone is a bit difficult to read.*

Here lies buried
our dear mother, a proper woman, Mrs.
Toiba daughter of Chaim Meier
54 years old
7 Menachem Av 5673
May her soul be bound in the bond of life

MY BELOVED WIFE 
AND OUR DEAR MOTHER
TAUBE WEISS
DIED  AUG. 10, 1913
AGE 54 YEARS 

Tillie was born Taube Shapiro to Hyman (Chaim) Meier and Bessie (probably Basia). Her death record indicates her mother's surname was Weiss.[3] I have no additional record to corroborate that andformation and, therefore, cannot vouch for its accuracy. At her death, she had been in the USA or four years. He death certificate indicates an age of 45 years, not 54 as on the stone. 45 years matches her age on her passenger manifest (42 in 1910).

When Taube arrived in New York on January 1910 with her children Perl, Scheindel and Moishe, they headed to husband/father Michael who lived at 24 Cannon Street, New York, NY. She reported her brother-in-law, Abram Pilmann, lived in Ritzew (aka Hrytsiv, Ukraine - 12 km WSW of Labun)

A 1910 census record for a Michael and Tillie W. Wies family may be for our subject couple.[4] The Michael in the record is a presser (our Michael Weiss' death certificate indicates he worked as a clothing presser, as well). The family lived at 163 Madison Street, New York, NY. The children were Lizzie (age 18) [not known from other records], Pearlie (16) [consistent with the manifest record], Mary (12) [the age would be consistent with Scheindel's age, the name, not so much], and Morris (11) [consistent]. A boarder named Israel Shapiro also lived with them [consistent with Tillie's maiden name].

In addition, the census indicated that Michael and eldest daughter, Lizzie, immigrated in 1906 and the rest of the family in 1910 [we know that 1910 is an accurate year for Tillie and the younger children].

So far, no other census records have been successfully linked to Michael. When Tillie died in August 1913, she had been living at 250 Clinton Street, New York, NY.[5]

Perl became Pauline and married Abe Joseph Cohen in Manhattan on 20 December 1914.[6] 

Scheindel became Jennie and married David Charles Sinclair (born in Dunedin, New Zealand) on 10 April 1924. It did not go well. 

They had Rosina Sinclair on 9 February 1925.[7] The June 1 1925 New York State census found the young family at 58 107th Street in Manhattan.[8] Rose died on 7 November 1925 of bacillary dysentery.

Their second child, Alfred, died of tuberculosis of cerebro-spinal meningitis at age 2 on 17 July 1928.[9] 

Esther Sinclair was born on 27 February 1928.[10] In the 1930 census she was recorded living at the Home for Hebrew Infants on West Kingsbridge Road in the Bronx.[11] She had been admitted there on 4 September 1929 and was discharged on 21 March 1931.[12] 

In 1930, Esther's mother Jennie Weiss Sinclair lived at the New York City Children's Hospital at Randall's Island.[13] In 1940, Esther and Jennie lived together at the Wassaic State School in Armenia, Dutchess County, New York.[14]

I found Jennie's husband, David Charles Sinclair (born in Dunedin, New Zealand) in South Africa in 1942 working as a male nurse in a military hospital in Pietermaritzburg. He married Ethel Hester Galleymore on 28 February 1942.[15]

Jennie died on 9 February 1955 in Armenia, New York.[16]

When Michael died in 1937, he had been living at 2079 Daly Avenue in the Bronx. His son informed his death certificate and was reportedly living at that address, as well.[17]

Michael and Tillie are interred in First Lubiner Progressive Benevolent Association plots in Montefiore Cemetery, Queens, New York. Michael is in block 5, gate 567W, line 1R, grave 3. Tillie is in block 89, gate 156N, line 3L, grave 1.

Notes:
* I am thankful for the help of, especially, Robin Meltzer and also Leah Cohen who aided in the translation of the inscription on this stone. They both provided help via "Tracing the Tribe" FaceBook page.
1. Now, called Sudylkiv, Ukraine. It is about 24 km NW of Labun - the town associated with the First Lubiner Progressive Benevolent Association. Manifest, S.S. Carmania, 10 January 1910, p. 14, lines 11-14, Taube Weiss (age 42), Perl Weiss (15), Scheindel Weiss (11), and Moische Weiss (9); images, "New York Passneger Lists, 1820-1957," Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 10 January 2017).
2. Bronx County, New York, death certificate no. 4175, Michael Weiss, 19 April 1937; Municipal Archives, New York City.
3. New York County, death certificate no. 23946, Tillie Weiss, 10 August 1913; Municipal Archives, New York City.
4. 1910 U.S. Census, New York Co., NY, population schedule, Manhattan, e.d. 1692, sheet 10A, dwelling 8, family 133, Michael and Tillie W. Wies; images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 4 December 2017); NARA microfilm publication T624, roll 1007.
5. New York County, death certificate no. 23946, Tillie Weiss, 10 August 1913.
6. New York County, New York, marriage certificate no. 31218, Abe Joseph Cohen and Pauline Weiss; Municipal Archives, New York City. 
7. New York Co., NY, death certificate no. 27146, Rosina Sinclair, 7 November 1925; Municipal Archives, New York City.
8. 1925 New York State census, New York County, NY, enumeration of inhabitants, Manhattan, assembly district 17, election district 5, sheets 17-18, David, Jennie and Rose Sinclair; images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 10 January 2017).
9. New York Co., NY, death certificate no. 19301, Alfred Sinclair, 17 July 1928; Municipal Archives, New York City.
10. "U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007," index, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 10 January 2017), entry for Esther Sinclair, died 11 August 2004, SSN 059-54-7519.
11. 1930 U.S. Census, Bronx Co., NY, population schedule, Bronx, e.d. 3-624, sheet 4A, entry # 50, Esther Sinclair, age 2-1/12; images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 4 December 2017); NARA microfilm publication T626, roll 1487.
12. "New York, Home for Hebrew Infants Records, 1922-1937," images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 4 December 2017), entries for Esther Sinclair (admission 4 September 1929; discharge 21 March 1931); America Jewish Historical Society, Center for Jewish History, NY, NY.
13. 1930 U.S. Census, New York Co., NY, population schedule, Manhattan, e.d. 31-961, sheet 16B, entry # 87, Jennie Sinclair, age 35; images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 4 December 2017); NARA microfilm publication T626, roll 1575.
14. 1940 U.S. Census, Dutchess Co., NY, population schedule, Armenia, e.d. 14-3, sheet 46B, entries 77 and 78, Jennie Sinclair (age 45) and Esther Sinclair (12); images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 4 December 2017); NARA microfilm publication T627, roll 2522.
15. "South Africa, Natal Province, Civil Marriages, 1845-1955," database with images, FamilySearch (https://FamilySearch.org : accessed 4 December 2017); National Archives and Records Service of South Africa, Pretoria.  
16. "New York, Death Index, 1880-1956," index, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 4 December 2017), entry for Jennie Sinclair, 9 February 1955, Armenia, New York; New York Department of Health, Albany. 
17. Bronx County, New York, death certificate no. 4175, Michael Weiss, 19 April 1937. 

26 November 2017

MyHeritage thows down the Hammer and goes for the Liebross

Almost four years ago, I wrote a blog post lamenting the fact that a FamilySearch indexing project for New York passenger manifests was indexing the same fields that other organizations had indexed. While I saw the value in having access to independently indexed databases, I was hoping some entity would index some additional potentially useful fields, such as name and address of the person the immigrant was joining in the USA. At that time, no such luck.

I cannot say that all my prayers have been answered - I am still waiting for searchable addresses - but MyHeritage has raised the bar with their recently updated database, "Ellis Island and Other New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957." Now, one's name searches return not only passenger names, but also names of those to whom the passengers were headed.

I have a few uncommon surnames in my family, so I did one of my usual searches on the surname Liebross (not exact). It became immediately clear that my great great uncle Simon Liebross, husband of Ethel Hammer, was a magnet for new immigrants, especially from his wife's Hammer family. Here are a few more of my posts about the couple: Simon's first arrival and naturalization, arrival with Ethel in 1890, and 1892 NY State census.

Now, I originally did not know exactly where Ethel was from. Her 1890 Hamburg passenger manifest said "Krasno."[1] There are several Krasnos in Eastern Europe. But, years ago, I was contacted by Ava Cohn (Sherlock Cohn) who is related to the Hammers. She recalled that her family talked about a relative with the surname Liebross. When she saw that I was researching Liebrosses, she contacted me. She let me know that the Krasno on Ethel's manifest was also known as Krasnoyil's'k.[2]

These are all the Hammers (mostly from Krasnoyil's'k) I located by searching on the surname Liebross:
  • Adolph Hammer, 23 years old, from Krasna Ilska, Austria; arrived on 31 March 1907 on the S.S. Graf Waldersee; heading to his uncle Simon Liebrus at 181 Melrose, Brooklyn;
  • Mizi Hammer, 16, from Krasna, Austria; arrived on 29 August 1907 on the S.S. Patricia; heading to uncle, Mr. Libros at 181 Melrose St., Brooklyn;
  • Pinkas Hammer, 23 years old, from Krasna, Austria (mother Sara Hammer in Krasna); arrived on 1 August 1908 on the S.S. Amerika; heading to uncle, Simon Liebross, at 181 Melrose St., Brooklyn;
  • Mariem Hammer, 21 years old, from Krasna, Austria (mother Ester Hammer in Althutte, Bukovina)); arrived on 6 August 1910 on the S.S. Amerika; heading to uncle, Symon Lybros at 940 Gates St., New York; and
  • Rafael Hammer, 34 years old [mother Ester Hammer from Althutte (now known as Staro Krasnoshora - 6 km northwest of Krasnoil's'k)], and Golda Hammer, 1.5 years old, from Alt Hutte; arrived on 6 August 1910 on the S.S. Amerika; heading to Symon Libros at 990 Gates St., New York.
In truth, I had acquired some of these manifests previously without the "going to" information. I have not done much research on these people. For now, I will leave that to Ava, who is researching this family. I do know, however, that Pinkas became Peter Hammer. After her husband Simon died, Ethel Hammer Liebross was enumerated living with Peter and his wife in the 1930 census. Ethel was identified as Peter's aunt.[3]

Then, there were two others identified via the MyHeritage database whom I had not previously seen. One identified as a cousin (who may or may nor have been):
  • Mortko Riesenberg, 36 years old, from Galicia; arrived on 10 August 1902 on the S.S. Ryndam; identified Simon as a cousin living at 244 Boerum, Brooklyn, NY. 
And one immigrant, who identified Simon Liebross as his friend after he'd said on his manifest that he did not know anyone in the United States:
  • Moses Breier, 32 years old, from Mihalen, Rumania [likely Mihaileni, Romania; 40 km SSE of Czernowitz]; arrived on 26 Jun 1898 on the S.S. Werkendam; identified Simon as a friend living at 244 Boerum, Brooklyn, NY.
Unfortunately, I have yet to zero-in on these last two in records after their arrival in the United States or find them in Bukovinan or Galician records. But, more clues! More work! Love it.

MyHeritage is to be commended for thinking outside the usual search box.
Notes:
1. Manifest, S.S. Deutschland, January 1890, p. 7, lines 190 and 191, Simon Libros (age 35) and Etel Libros (age 28); images, "Hamburg Passenger Lists, 1850-1934," Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 28 May 2008).
2. Krasnoyil's'k is a community that had been in Bukovina, 41 km southwest of Czernowitz. Today the community is in Ukraine. I am not entirely sure where my great uncle, Simon, was from originally. The Liebrosses were from Zaleszczyki, Galicia (now in Ukraine) in the 19th century. Sometime toward the end of the century, some of them moved from that town to Vienna and, in the case of my part of the family (my ggf Leizer Liebross, Simon's brother), to Radautz, Bukovina (now in Romania).
3. 1930 U.S. census, Kings County, New York, population schedule, Brooklyn, enumeration district 24-1668, sheet 10A, dwelling 67, family 180, Peter and Yetta Hammer and Ethel Liebross; images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 8 January 2013).

04 November 2017

Tombstone Tuesday: Siblings Franklin and Lillian Schwartz, Montefiore Cemetery, Queens, New York

During the last two weeks I enjoyed time in the New York metropolitan area. While on Long Island I visited and recorded graves at several Jewish cemeteries in which relatives of mine are interred. Since I had not recently been to the First Lubiner Progressive Benevolent Association plots (which I have been documenting for several years on this blog), I stopped by to record a few recent burials. 

For some reason I'd not quite recorded all the infant graves in the plots in Montefiore Cemetery. In doing so this time, I noted two children of Joseph and Gussie Kargman Schwartz: Franklin and Lillian.


Here lies
Efraim son of
Shmuel Yakov
FRANKLIN
SCHWARTZ
DIED
MAR. 25, 1929
AGE 8 1/2 MOS.
 
Franklin's short life (8.5 months) missed enumeration in census records. He was born about August-September 1928 and passed away on 2 March 1929 of laryngeal diphtheria.[1]

Leah bat Shmuel Yakov
LILLIAN
SCHWARTZ
DIED OCT. 20, 1931
AGE 20 MONTHS 

Franklin Schwartz was gone by the time Lillian was born in about February 1930. She was recorded as just 2 months old in the April census.[2] Lillian Schwartz died on 20 October 1931 of pertussis (whooping cough).[3] She had been admitted to the Willard Parker Hospital (a communicable diseases hospital) in Manhattan on 12 October 1931 and died more than a week later.

In both cases, the children's father was identified on their gravestones as Shmuel Yakov. Their father Joe was identified as Schmariya Yakov on his gravestone.

After finding these two children, I did a bit more research on Joseph and Gussie children who lived to adulthood. 

Their eldest daughter, Shirley, born 29 December 1925, married William Rackowitz. 

The family had moved to Hartford, Connecticut sometime between 1935 and March 1940 (they were recorded in Hartford in the April 1940 census). Both children stayed in that area. 

Shirley died on 12 July 2010 and her grave may be found in the Hartford Mutual Society Memorial Park. Her Find A Grave entry includes a transcription of her obituary from the Hartford Courant. On her grave, her father's Hebrew name is listed as Yosef.

Younger brother Milton Schwartz, born 22 June 1933, married Nancy Singer Schwartz, and passed away on 28 April 2010. According to his obituary, he working with his glazer father at State Glass in Hartford. Later, he managed an electrical wholesale business in Hartford.[4] His grave is located in Beth El Temple Cemetery, Avon, Connecticut.

The children who died, Lillian and Franklin, are interred in one of the First Lubiner Progressive Benevolent Association plots in Montefiore Cemetery, block 89, gate 156N. Lillian is in line 1L, grave 8 and Franklin is in line 1R, grave 10.

Notes:
1. New York County, New York, death certificate no. 9192 (1929), Franklin Schwartz, 25 March 1929;
microfilm image, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org : accessed 07 November 2017), microfilm 2,057,015 ; citing Municipal Archives, New York City.
2. 1930 U.S. Census, New York County, population schedule, Manhattan, e.d. 31-217, sheet 14B, dwelling 39, family 400, Joseph and Gussie Schwartz; images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 15 January 2011); citing NARA microfilm publication T626, roll 1555.
3. New York County, New York, death certificate no. 24555 (1931), Lillian Schwartz, 20 October 1931; microfilm image, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org : accessed 8 January 2016), microfilm 2,069,352; citing Municipal Archives, New York City. 
4. Milton Schwartz, obituary, Hartford Courant (Hartford, CT), 30 April - 1 May 2010; transcription, Legacy (http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/hartfordcourant/obituary.aspx?n=milton-schwartz&pid=142356408 : accessed 4 November 2017).

23 October 2017

Comment Submitted to NYC Dept of Health and Mental Hygeine!


Don't let the opportunity to comment pass you by!

About a month ago I posted my draft. Here's what I just sent to NYC DOH.

I urge New York City to make birth and death records public and transfer them, on a fixed schedule, from The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to DORIS (i.e., the Municipal Archives). I also urge New York City to not adopt further restrictions on when vital records will become publicly available. With regard to potential identity theft, this proposed rule is applying a sledge hammer to facilitate installation of a thumb tack.

For death records, I urge you to adopt a 10-year rule without restriction or, even better, adopt an open records option (similar to some other states). The federal Privacy Act does not apply to dead people. Probate law requires public access to probate records so that potential heirs may be fully informed. As a result, for many people, their death information is known. The vast majority of stolen identities are from living people made vulnerable via their use of social media, use of credit cards or response to email spam. Identity theft using names of the dead is an extraordinarily small percentage of identity theft cases. I believe open records, rather than restricted ones, are more likely to be helpful with regard to the dead. For example, if companies had accessible death databases and records, they would be less likely to accept credit applications using names of dead people.

While the example provided in the NYC proposed rule of protecting a living mother’s dead child’s record (remember we are talking here about a mother who would likely be several years past 90 years old), may tug at the heart strings, I urge you to also think about equally compelling and much more common situations. There are many more people who die without issue. Under current NYC restrictions imposed by the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, no relatives but parents, grandparents, direct descendants or siblings may acquire death records even if those records are more than 50 years old. It is impossible for anyone, including caring relatives, to acquire the records necessary to allow adequate remembrance of their dearly loved aunts, uncles and cousins. This is not only ridiculous, but also unconscionable. Certainly, there are many more death records for people in this category than for the child and mother in the first hypothetical instance.

The hypothetical situation presented, highlights an important issue regarding background research for any proposed restrictions of records access in New York City. While there are few states that are currently more restrictive than New York City regarding vital records, there are some states that are less restrictive. Research on their successes and failures in this regard is relevant. Ohio and North Carolina provide non-certified copies of birth and death records to all. New York City is currently one of the most restrictive states. Yet, all three states are about equal, statistically in identity theft. In “Facts + Statistics: Identity Theft and Cybercrime,” a 2017 article online at the Insurance Information Institute (https://www.iii.org/fact-statistic/facts-statistics-identity-theft-and-cybercrime ), they note that New York ranks 22nd (102.3 complaints/100,000 people), North Carolina 26th (96.1/100,000) and Ohio 27th (94.8/100,000) among states.  Clearly, open records are not correlated with increased identity theft.

With regard to the proposal to increase birth record restrictions, it is important to note that nearly all of the PII on birth records is readily available for everyone to find via the Internet. Birth records, themselves, are not the reason this information is available online. This information is available because it has been required by many government and private organizations for credit and land transactions and is available publicly. Or, the information may have been stolen during any one of many recent company and government agency data breaches. The PII DOH is proposing to protect via vital record access restrictions is already publicly available. Restricting birth records beyond 100 years in New York City will not change this situation in any way.

It is also important to note that, by the statistics provided in the proposed rule regarding birth records, those over 100 years old make up but 0.4 % of the New York City population. This same NYC-led sledge hammer-like approach to a miniscule issue is stunning. It, like the proposal for death records, belies a callous disregard for public access and government accountability.

Many jurisdictions throughout the United States have open records laws, much more liberal that New York City. New York City has been more restrictive than New York State for some time with little or no explanation to the public for this difference and with no discernable advantage for PII protection. Unlike New York City, New York State and many other jurisdictions do not seem to view further restriction on public access in the public interest.

I would hope that actions with regard to further public record restrictions would be weighed seriously and considered with regard to whether the solutions proposed will have any impact on the problems identified. I suggest the solutions are draconian and unwarranted and, most importantly, will have no effect on the identified issue of privacy.

In closing, I would like to suggest an option that seems not to have been considered: making non-certified copies of birth and death records accessible to all with few years of restriction (perhaps 75 for birth and 10 for death), but making certified copies accessible only to direct descendants and those with tangible interest. Since most of the information on birth and death records are already available via the Internet, this would ensure that legally certified birth records would be used and reserved for the most important purposes.

Emily Garber
23 October 2017