Pre-1881 New York Birth Certificate Index Now Available

The following was first printed in The Mountain Eagle, published Hudson-Catskill Newspapers (NY), issue of Friday, August 21, 2009.

ALBANY – Genealogists and other researchers will have even more information about New York births available to them now that a name index to 1,048 delayed birth certificates for events prior to 1881 has been placed in the New York State Archives and eight other locations around the state.

New York State did not start issuing birth certificates until 1881. People born prior to 1881 began asking the state for birth certificates as early as 1900; however most were issued in the late 1930s and early 1940s so individuals could prove their age to receive benefits under the Social Security Act of 1935. These delayed birth certificates were issued for births ranging from 1823 to 1880, with most documenting births in the 1870s. The pre-1881 birth certificate index applies only to births in New York State and outside of the five boroughs of New York City.

This new index was prepared by the New York State Department of Health and distributed by the New York State Archives. It contains the district number designating the county, first/middle/last name of child, date of birth, first/middle/last name of father, first/middle/last name of mother – usually her maiden name, and the date of filing the certificate. For the convenience of genealogists and other researchers, the index is sorted in three ways: 1) name of child; 2) maiden name of mother; 3) year of birth (newer to older).

The pre-1881 birth certificate index and other genealogy indexes to New York State birth, marriage, and death certificates are available at the following locations:

  • Albany – New York State Archives
  • Buffalo – Buffalo & Erie County Public Library
  • Elmira – Steele Memorial Library
  • Glens Falls – Crandall Public Library
  • New York City – National Archives (Northeast Region)
  • Patchogue – Patchogue-Medford Library
  • Rochester – Rochester Public Library
  • Syracuse – Onondaga County Public Library
  • Watertown – Flower Memorial Library

For more information on vital record indexes, visit the New York State Archives’ website at and click on Research and then Vital Records [under the Genealogy heading].

For more information about obtaining copies of birth, marriage, and death certificates, visit the State Department of Health’s website

The New York State Archives, a part of the State Education Department in the Office of Cultural Education, preserves and makes accessible the essential recorded evidence – past and present – of New York’s governments, organizations, peoples, and events. At its Albany facility, the State Archives cares for more than 200 million archival records of New York State government dating from the 1630s to the present. Opening its doors in 1978, the State Archives also offers technical assistance, financial support, and other services to local governments and community organizations in every region of the state.

Thanks to Pat Morrow for the above article.

Author: Leland Meitzler

Leland K. Meitzler founded Heritage Quest in 1985, and has worked as Managing Editor of both Heritage Quest Magazine and The Genealogical Helper. He currently operates Family Roots Publishing Company (, writes daily at, writes the weekly Genealogy Newsline, conducts the annual Salt Lake Christmas Tour to the Family History Library, and speaks nationally, having given over 2000 lectures since 1983.

5 thoughts on “Pre-1881 New York Birth Certificate Index Now Available”

  1. I have a problem. I have a bother that I hav`nt seen in 2 or 3 years. I feel like half of me is missing. His name is Muigle Angle Flres. His brith Day is January 5 1989. Our mother name is Irine or spell it Irene Barbra Flores She was born in 1968 Of January. Please help me find my other half if you could. Thank you so much.

  2. I am looking for information about my New York ancestors. The Angle’s. Miles B ANGLE, married to Hannah Whaley of Middlebury or Dale, New York. Odyssa Adeline Sands, daughter of Mary Orr and Sands of Thompkins, New York


  4. Hello!
    I am researching family ancestors in Erie County, NY. Parents (?) had a son W.W.Hall (William Wallace or Wallace William) born in Erie, NY 1833. W.W. went to school until he was 21 years then moved to Michigan. I would like to find out who his parents were and if he had siblings.
    Thanks you.

  5. 06/21/1959 IM looking for My Health History and Original Birth Certificate I was put up for adoption 06/24/1959 Our Lady of Victory infant home Lackawanna NY after birth I was adopted 1961 to a Great Family move to Ohio at 3 year old Please Help Me out on getting them someone Contact Me if You can Help Me. Thank You

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