25 April 2013

New York City Vital Record Indices, 1949-1965

So my previous discussion of accessibility of New York City death record information left out a critical resource that I knew about, but flaked on while writing the post. There are printed registers (indices) for New York City Deaths and Births through 1965. These registers have been microfilmed (although not digitized nor online yet) and are available to rent from the Family History Library via FamilySearch.org. Armed with date of death and certificate number from these registers, one may order New York City death certificates from the Department of Health and minimize search time and fees.

I have actually used microfilm rolls resident at my closest FamilySeach Library (Mesa, AZ) of birth certificate indices for New York City that carry one through 1965 births. The Family History Library also has film for NYC deaths through 1965 and NYC marriages through 1937 (although ItalianGen already has a marriage index through 1937 online).

FamilySearch.org has filmed three documents they produced in 2005 and 2006 on New York City vital record registers:
Register of New York City Death Records
Register of New York City Birth Records
Register if New York City Marriage Records
These books may be read online or downloaded from FamilySearch. They explain the records that exist and the organization of the data. They also identify the Family History Library microfilm rolls on which one may access the filmed register pages.

For New York City death records, for example, one would access the following microfilms to see Register pages for 1947 through 1965 (indexed records for 1949-1965 are not currently online at ItalianGen, although I know they're working on it):
1947-1951        Film 1,324,925
1952-1956       Film 1,324,926
1957-1960       Film 1,324,927
1961-1962       Film 1,324,928
1963                 Film 1,324,929
1964                 Film 1,324,930
1965                 Film 1,324,931
I have used pages from these films to help index records that already appear in ItalianGen online indices and will appear in future indices. This is what a portion of a page from the death record microfilmed index looks like.

The data of genealogical interest on the register pages for the years 1947-1965: 
  • Surnames - each year includes individuals listed alphabetically by surname; 
  • First name - alphabetically following surname.  Newborns may only show "male" or "female");
  • Age - generally in years, however, children may be shown with an M for months or D for days old;
  • Date of death - month, day, and year. The year is indicated only by its last digit. However, the full year is identified on the bottom of each page.
  • Borough of the City of New York - Bronx (X), Brooklyn (K), Manhattan (M), Queens (Q), and Richmond (R). Y indicates that the person died outside New York City.  
  • Certificate number. If a number appears in this column following a Y in the Boro. column, it represents the State in which the person died. The FamilySearch book includes a key to these numbers. 
Death records are typically filed by county. If someone died outside New York City, don't expect to get a death certificate at the New York City Municipal Archives or at the Department of Health. But, if one doesn't know where the person died, this last column with the state key could be a great clue on where to look next.

But don't forget, no matter how well-armed with information you are (and no matter how sweet you and your mother think you are), you will not be able to acquire a death record less than 50 years old in New York State unless you can prove you are the deceased person's parent, spouse, sibling or direct descendant.

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