JewishGen Discussion Group #JewishGen Finding Vital Records in the United States #general

Chuck Weinstein <cmw521@...>

There have been a number of postings in this forum and some of the SIG
Discussion Groups recently regarding finding birth, marriage, and death
records in various states. The easiest way to find out who to contact
and/or where to go to find records is via a Google search. Be specific, as
each state has its own rules, and many localities do, as well. A Google
search for "Los Angeles Death Records" will get you more specific
information than a search for "California Death Records". The answer to
where and at what costs you will apply to varies, especially according to
the year of the event. As an example, New York State has a 100 year privacy
rule on birth records. However, in New York City, birth records prior to
December 31, 1909 are held in the NYC Municipal Archives. Birth records
since 1910 are still held by the NY City Health Dept. The Municipal
Archives will get you a copy of any birth record they have (for a fee, of
course), and there is an index available, both at the Municipal Archives and
online (at However, although birth records >from 1910
to 1913 are supposedly available to all, the health department will only
release NYC birth records they have after you justify your reason for
wanting it (and genealogy is not an acceptable reason). There is no
published index for births occurring after 1910 in New York City. Marriage
and death records are likewise different in NYC >from state law. Some states
have indices for vital records; others don't, and privacy rules, the
repository of various records, and costs and availability often differ from
town to town or county to county within a state. Many states and localities
have contracted with a company called Vital Check to provide records. You
will see that immediately in the Google search responses if the state you
are looking for has done so. Some states and/or localities will require a
personal appearance. Others will provide you a copy by mailing in a form.

Finally, the rules are changing. More and more states, under the guise that
vital records availability encourages identity theft, are extending privacy
rules. Yet another reason to do a Google search if you don't know how to
obtain the record you seek. BTW, there are far easier ways to steal
identity than viewing vital records.

Chuck Weinstein
Bellport, NY (formerly >from San Francisco, CA)