NYC Offers Free Online Access to 9.3 Million Historical Vital Records

Last updated April 1st, 2022

The New York City Municipal Archives has just introduced a new online platform which allows anyone free access to 9.3 million historical vital records.

This new service is part of an ongoing mass digitalization project which aims to reach 13.3 million records when it is finished. Starting in 2013, the project has now reached 70% of its total goal.

Mayor Eric Adams announced his approval for the project:

“These historical records will not only serve as an essential resource for family historians across the country and around the world, but will allow everyday New Yorkers to learn more about their personal history and explore their roots. My administration is committed to expanding access to city resources and providing New Yorkers with the information they need”.

What Are the NYC Municipal Archives?

The New York City Municipal Archives is a division of the New York City Department of Records and Information Services. It was founded in 1950 and is currently based in Surrogate’s Courthouse in Manhattan.

The Municipal Archives collects and maintains vital records of New Yorkers and makes them accessible to the general public.

The Archives hold records dating from the early 17th century to the present, making it the largest local government archive in North America. The records include:

  • Vital records
  • Paper records
  • Digital collections
  • Web archives
  • Still and moving images
  • Ledgers and docket books
  • Cartographic materials
  • Blueprints
  • Sound recordings

What Records Can You Find?

Using the new online platform, you can easily search the archives for vital records, including:

*The archives include both marriages certificates and licenses. This is because the City Clerk began issuing marriage licenses in 1908, while the Health Department continued to record marriages until 1937. The recorded information for the 2 documents is duplicative, with additional information on the City Clerk licenses.

The dates that the digitalized records cover vary depending on the NYC borough.

Digitalized birth certificates

  • Bronx: 1872 to 1873, 1876, 1888 to 1891, 1895 to 1909
  • Kings (Brooklyn): 1866 to 1909
  • Manhattan: 1855, 1857 to 1861, 1863 to 1865, 1866 to 1909
  • Queens: 1866, 1876, 1883, 1886, 1888 to 1909
  • Richmond (Staten Island): 1898 to 1909

Digitalized death certificates

  • Bronx: 1898 to 1948
  • Kings (Brooklyn): 1862 to 1948
  • Manhattan: 1866 to 1867, 1871 to 1875, 1920 to 1930
  • Queens: 1898 to 1948
  • Richmond (Staten Island): 1898 to 1948

Digitalized marriage certificates

  • Bronx: 1898 to 1937
  • Kings (Brooklyn): 1866 to 1937
  • Manhattan: 1866 to 1937
  • Queens: 1898 to 1937
  • Richmond (Staten Island): 1898 to 1937

Digitalized Marriage Licenses

  • Bronx: Not yet digitized
  • Kings (Brooklyn): 1938 to 1949
  • Manhattan: 1908 to 1910, 1938 to 1949
  • Queens: 1938 to 1947
  • Richmond (Staten Island): 1908 to 1947

How Does It Work?

The Municipal Archives’ online platform is easy to use. There are 2 different functions to choose from: browse and search.

Browse the archives

If you are not looking for a specific record, or you do not have enough information to carry out a search, you can use the browse function.

You can choose certain parameters to narrow down the results:

  • Certificate type
  • NYC borough
  • Year range

Search for a record

If you are searching for a specific record, the search function helps you locate the record in the archives.

The fastest way to find a vital record is by entering the certificate number. If you do not have this information available, you can search by:

  • Certificate type
  • NYC borough
  • Last name
  • Year

What can I do if I cannot find a vital record?

If you have tried to find a vital record using the search function but you have been unsuccessful in locating the record, you can contact The NYC Municipal Archives to request a search.

To do this, you need to complete the Vital Records Order Form. The Archives will then conduct a search based on the information you have provided.

If the Archives find your requested record, they will digitalize it. However, if the search is unsuccessful they will provide a certified “not found” letter.