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New York State Death Index

Reclaim The Records

This is the index to deaths in New York State in 1880-1956. These records were obtained by the non-profit activist group Reclaim The Records through a New York State Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request originally filed in January 2016 and completed seventeen months later in mid-2017. Prior to this, the records had only been available on microfiche at a small number of libraries in New York State, and had not been easily available to the general public.

Some things to note:

  1. 1880 and 1881 have very limited data, as the state law requiring the reporting of deaths to the state didn’t have great compliance at first.

  2. 1943 is, unfortunately, extremely hard to read, and we don’t know if any better copy exists.

  3. New York City deaths are, for the most part, not included in this statewide death index. That’s because New York City and New York State are completely different vital records jurisdictions. However, some deaths that were in neighborhoods that are part of modern-day New York City — such as Flushing (Queens) or Canarsie (Brooklyn) — do show up in the pre-1897/1898 statewide death index! That’s because they weren’t incorporated as part of the city yet at the time they were recorded.

  4. Three major cities are not included in this statewide death index until 1914 or 1915: Yonkers, Buffalo, and Albany. Reclaim The Records has made three new and separate FOIL requests to those city clerks for the first-ever public copies of their 1880-1914 death indices, in order to complete the missing data. As of December 2017, only Buffalo's death index is available so far, and it has been uploaded to the Internet Archive.
For more information about how these records were obtained, and the wacky adventures that happened along the way, read this: https://www.reclaimtherecords.org/records-request/3/.

For more information on Reclaim The Records, please visit our website at https://www.ReclaimTheRecords.org/ or follow us on Twitter at @ReclaimTheRecs.

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