Wednesday, March 16, 2022

New, Free New York City Vital Records!

Anyone with ancestors who were born, married, or died in New York City from 1855 through 1949 can now search the New York City Municipal Archives site and view more than 9 million document images, at no charge. This action wasn't directly due to any specific lawsuit by the nonprofit Reclaim the Records, although it has sued the agency four times to get public images made public. This particular release of documents is a project that New York City has been working on for years, and now the results are being made available for free

As shown in the image above, note that these images are for vital records only from 1855 through 1949. Also, not all images have yet been scanned, but the majority are available to be found via search or browsing.

Search by cert number

NYC recommends searching by certificate number, borough, and year for the best results. You can find a cert number in a number of ways. There are indexes on Ancestry, Family Search, and other sites, but usually I use the databases at - also free, thanks to the efforts of many incredible volunteers. 

As shown above, you can search the ItalianGen databases for birth, marriage, death by surname and given name or initial, specify a range of years, and narrow the search to a specific New York City borough. When I did this for my great aunt Sadie Mahler's marriage, I found two possibilities. I know her spouse (Samuel Smith) but if I didn't, the ability to look at either of these certs FOR FREE is a big, big plus.

Once I plugged in the cert number, borough, and year using the NYC search function, up popped Sadie and Sam's marriage document, both page 1 and page 2 (with their signatures and the witnesses). I don't need a certified copy for my genealogy, but if you do, you can click to buy.

Want to browse?

If you want to browse in search of an ancestor's cert (maybe you can't find the cert number, for instance), you can use the browse interface here. Select type of certificate, borough, and don't forget to use the slider to narrow the range of years.

What a wonderful treat to have, just two weeks before the 1950 US Census is released!

PS: I tried finding Sadie's marriage cert at FamilySearch but "no image" was available, only a transcription. Much better to have the actual image to view!


  1. Thanks for the heads up! Can these records only be sought here? :)

    1. Diane, In past, I think most of these documents were only available for a fee from NY Muni Archives. On FamSearch, I could see transcription but NOT the image. Now hi-res scan is available for free from NYC Muni!

  2. How very handy! We know at least one of our Italian side relations was married in NY in that period. Here's to some treasure hunting very soon. Thanks for the heads-up!