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.