Thursday, December 8, 2022

Eyeballing a New York Birth Cert from 1885

I'm writing a bite-sized bio of Carrie Julia Etschel Mahler (1885-1962), who in 1932 married my great uncle Morris Mahler (1888-1958). Those who marry in deserve their own bios on my family tree!

I already knew Carrie's parents' names, from her marriage license...but I didn't have Carrie's birth certificate, and I did hope to harvest a few more details about her early life to include in the bio I'm preparing. Since she was born in New York City, I knew just where to look for her actual birth cert--for free.

New York City Vital Records online

For months, I've enjoyed the convenience of searching for birth, marriage, and death certificates on the New York City Municipal Archives site. The trick is to have an actual cert number to conduct a search and receive a result. 

As it happens, Ancestry has a searchable index to New York City births, 1878-1909, which includes the birth record number. But this isn't always the case. Many times, is my first stop for a NYC ancestor's vital records number. 

First stop:

The Italian Genealogical Group has done an incredible job of creating searchable index databases for a variety of New York vital records. To go directly to the databases, use this link. I selected the birth database, included a range of years for Carrie's birth (in case there was a delay in recording her birth), and didn't indicate a specific borough because I wanted to search throughout the city.

Happily, this returned one index result: Carrie J. Etschel, born on April 25, 1885, in Manhattan. This matches what I knew from Carrie's marriage license. The key element on this index result is the CertNbr (meaning cert number), 426034.

Next stop: search historical vital records for NYC

Armed with the cert number, year, and borough, I went to the NYC Muni Archives site and plugged it all into the search function, as shown above. Then I clicked the search button.

Immediately I was able to eyeball Carrie Julia Etschel's birth record from 1885, as shown here. There's a choice of downloading the cert or printing, and of course I downloaded to add to my own files. 

By the way, the cert numbers do not always line up exactly with the search function. So if my result doesn't fit what I expect, I do a new search with a cert number that is one digit higher and one digit lower than the cert number I think is correct. Usually this gets me to the correct image.

Read the cert!

Reading the above cert carefully, not only did I learn the exact address where Carrie was born on First Avenue in Manhattan, but also the birthplace and age of both parents, father's occupation, mother's maiden name, plus how many children the mother had in all (8) and how many were now living (only 3). 

Now I have lots of interesting details about Carrie's family that I can include in her bite-sized bio to be posted on multiple genealogy websites.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the step-by-step instruction. This is very helpful.