JewishGen Discussion Group #JewishGen Reclaim The Records wins Freedom of Information request, freely publishes images of the New York State marriage index, 1881-1965 #general


The non-profit genealogy activist group Reclaim The Records is pleased
to announce that we won our Freedom of Information request for a
digital copy of the New York state marriage index, for 1881-1965. All
the images of this index for 1881-1952 are online now at the Internet
Archive, and totally free to use, forever! No copyrights, no
subscriptions, no paywalls. You can even download them if you want.
The rest of the data for 1953-1960's will be coming online over the
next few months. Here's the direct link:

This is the first time this data has ever been freely available in
digital form. Previously, it was only on scratched up old microfiche
in a small number of New York libraries, plus the NARA branch in
Manhattan. Ancestry has also had copies of the data behind their
paywall for a few months.

Note that the New York State marriage index does not, for the most
part, include any records >from New York City, which is considered a
separate vital records jurisdiction >from the rest of the state.
Luckily, Reclaim The Records already won all of those NYC marriage
index records (1908-2017) through three previous successful Freedom of
Information lawsuits! Those NYC files are online here:

Note also that marriages >from the cities of Albany, Buffalo, and
Yonkers are not included in this State marriage index until about
1914-1915. We're going after those town records separately, to cover
all the gaps.

And note further that we were given images of the index, so there
isn't a free text-searchable database yet. You can't just type in a
name and hit search, you have to scroll through the images, like
flipping the pages in a book. But it's not that hard -- most years of
this index combine all brides and grooms into the same annual file,
sorted alphabetically by surname. A few of the years separate out the
brides and grooms into separate indices. And a few years sort the
information by the surnames' Soundex code instead. For example, here's
a direct link to the Grooms file for 1949:

Finally, our Freedom of Information request to the New York State
Department of Health (NYS DOH) had originally asked for the marriage
index all the way up through *2016*. But the NYS DOH declined to
provide public access to the most recent fifty years of index data --
even though that's the exact same legal issue on which we've already
won lawsuit settlements multiple times!

So, we sued them. Our Freedom of Information case against the NYS DOH
is currently pending in the Supreme Court of New York, Albany County.
Here's the filing:

For more details about these records and our lawsuit, check out our
free e-mail newsletter:

And read more details on the lawsuit here, along with all the appeals
and files:

Enjoy the new records. Goodbye microfiche, hello Internet! :-)

- Brooke Schreier Ganz
President and Founder, Reclaim The Records
Mill Valley, California

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