US GenWeb

Where to Write for Vital Records

Birth, Death and Marriage Records
In 1880 the state government of New York began requiring thekeeping of vital records. This law is the basis for the recording of births, marriages and deaths (B, M or D) in New York today. The original record is made in the town, village or city in which the event took place, and a copy of the record is sent to Albany. The system did not become fully comprehensive for several years. Nevertheless, it is still worth checking to see if your ancestor who died in the early 1880s might be among those whose birth, marriage or death was recorded.

OBTAINING RECORDS FROM THE TOWN CLERK OR EQUIVALENT - Old records held by the clerk of the town, village or city in which the event took place do not always survive today. In those local authorities which do still have some sort of record, many have only an entry in a crumbling old register book. In this case, the Town Clerk's office or equivalent is unable to supply you with a photocopy of a B, M or D CERTIFICATE. Instead, they will look in their register and record what they see there -- sometimes accurately, sometimes not accurately. They will then type up this information and send it to an applicant as a modern "certification". The main advantage of applying to a Town Clerk or equivalent for a B, M or D record is speed -- they often can respond to your request in a week or two. It is also possible to find out over the telephone whether a B, M or D record for someone of the same name as your ancestor is in fact your ancestor or someone else. HOWEVER, Town Clerks do not regard it as an obligation to share information with genealogical researchers by telephone, and the reaction you will get will vary from tremendously kind and helpful to downright rude. Since we cannot pick and choose what town, village or city our ancestors were born or married in or where they died, if the clerk of that location turns out to be one of the uncooperative ones, you have our great sympathy here on the Rensselaer Co. NY GenWeb site, but I'm afraid that there is little that can be done about it. In any case, the fee for obtaining whatever kind of record a Town Clerk or equivalent will send you is $22.00 per document, the same as the fee for obtaining one from the NY State Dept of Health.

County Clerk
Albany County Clerk
Bruce A. Hidley
Albany County Court House, Room 218
16 Eagle St.
Albany, NY 12207-1077

Phone: (518) 487-5100
Fax: (518) 487-5099

City, Town and Village Clerks
Albany City Clerk
Nala Woodard
City Hall
24 Eagle St., Room 202
Albany, NY 12207

Phone: (518) 434-5090
Fax: (518) 434-5081


Altamont Village Clerk
Patty Blackwood
115 Main St.
PO Box 643
Altamont, NY 12009

Phone: (518) 861-8554 ext. 10
Fax: (518) 861-5379


Berne Town Clerk
Anita C. Clayton
Town Hall
P.O. Box 57
1656 Helderberg Trail
Berne, NY 12023

Phone: (518) 872-1448
Fax: (518) 872-9303


Bethlehem Town Clerk
Nanci Moquin
Bethlehem Town Hall
Room 112
445 Delaware Ave.
Delmar, NY 12054

Phone: (518) 439-4955, ext. 1183
Fax: (518) 439-1699


Coeymans Town Clerk
Diane Millious
Coeymans Town Hall
18 Russell Ave.
Ravena, NY 12143

Phone: (518) 756-2100
Fax: (518) 756-6844


Cohoes City Clerk
Lori Yando
Cohoes City Hall
97 Mohawk St.
Cohoes, NY 12047

Phone: (518) 233-2141


Colonie Town Clerk
Elizabeth A. DelTorto
Memorial Town Hall
534 Loudon Rd.
Newtonville, NY 12128

Phone: (518) 783-2734


Colonie Village Clerk
Pat Hurley
Colonie Village Hall
2 Thunder Rd.
Albany, NY 12205

Phone: (518) 869-7562
Fax: (518) 464-0389


Green Island Village Clerk
Anne M. Strizzi
20 Clinton St.
Green Island, NY 12183

Phone: (518) 273-2201
Fax: (518) 273-2235


Guilderland Town Clerk
Jean Cataldo
Guilderland Town Hall 2nd Floor
P.O. Box 339
Guilderland, NY 12084

Phone: (518) 356-1980
Fax: (518) 356-3955


Knox Town Clerk
Tara Murphy
Knox Town Hall
PO Box 116
Knox, NY 12107

Phone: (518) 872-2551


Menands Village Clerk
250 Broadway
Menands, NY 12204

Phone: (518) 434.2922
Fax: (518) 427-7303


New Scotland Town Clerk
Diane Deschenes
New Scotland Town Hall
2029 New Scotland Rd.
Slingerlands, NY 12159

Phone: (518) 439-4865
Fax: (518) 478-0217


Ravena Village Clerk
Annette Demitraszek
15 Mountain Rd.
Ravena, NY 12143

Phone: (518) 756-8233
Fax: (518) 756-3363


Rensselaerville Town Clerk
Victoria Kraker
Rensselaerville Town Hall
87 Barger Rd.
Medusa, NY 12120
Phone: (518) 797-3798 or (518) 239-4225
Fax: (518) 239-6339


Voorheesville Village Clerk
Linda Pasquali
PO Box 367
Voorheesville, NY 12186

Phone: (518) 765-2692


Watervliet City Clerk
Jeremy Smith
Watervliet City Hall
2 Fifteenth St., Suite B
Watervliet, NY 12189

Phone: (518) 270-3800 x115


Westerlo Town Clerk
Kathleen Spinnato
933 County Route 401
Westerlo, NY 12193

Phone: (518) 797-3111
Fax: (518) 797-5122


OBTAINING RECORDS FROM THE NEW YORK STATE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH - The copy of a B, M or D record that has been sent to the state government is now held by the New York State Department of Health. If you apply, and if your application is successful, the Dept of Health will always supply a photocopy of the original B, M or D certificate, and not a modern "certification". Application to obtain a photocopy of an original B, M or D certificate should be made on a printed application form, and in September 2006 the fee was $22.00 per document. You can print an application form by visiting the website of the New York State Department of Health Vital Records Section. That website will also tell you what information you need to supply in order to apply, and whether you qualify for an exemption from the 50-year and 75-year embargo of records. There are two ways to obtain B, M and D certificates from the Dept of Health: by mail or in person.

BY MAIL - The backlog of requests by mail at the NY State Dept of Health is such that the waiting time was said in December 2002 to be about five months. Even this is an improvement, as a few years ago the waiting time was as long as two years! To apply by mail, send your completed application form and your check for $22.00 to the following address:

Vital Records from the State by Mail
New York State Department of Health
Vital Records Section
Genealogy Unit
P. O. Box 2602
Albany, NY 12220-2602

IN PERSON - Alternatively, you may call in person at the New York State Department of Health's premises. You will still need to fill in the form (obtainable at this office) and pay $22.00. This office will take your application and put it into a "fast track", and you will receive the photocopy of the requested document by mail seven to 10 days later. Here is is the location of this office:

Vital Records from the State in Person
New York State Department of Health
Vital Records Section
Genealogy Unit
Walk-In Services

800 North Pearl Street
Second Floor - Room 200
Menands, NY 12204

WHAT IF I DON'T KNOW THE YEAR OF MY ANCESTOR'S B, M OR D? There is good news and bad news. The good news is that wonderful, WONDERFUL New York State Births, Marriages and Deaths Indexes exist. They include every B, M or D record in the NY State Dept of Health's possession from the first ones in 1881 until the latest year that has come into the public domain -- i. e., up to 50 years before the present time for marriages and deaths and up to 75 years before the present time for births. Each index entry gives the full name of the person; the exact date of the event; the town, village, hamlet or city in which the event occurred; and the number of the certificate in the Dept of Health's records. A few of the years also give ages. Some years are arranged in Soundex order; most years are in ordinary alphabetical order. A few years in the marriages index name the spouse; most years don't. The bad news is that this index can be viewed ONLY in person at the New York State Archives, located in the New York State Museum Building. If you go there in person, you can search year by year until you find the index entry for your ancestor. To look for a single event for a single individual, you can easily search 20 years in 10 minutes. There is a search service available, but if you have no idea when an event occurred, this search service can be very expensive -- and it might not even yield a result. If you have MANY people you want to look up, you might want to consider going to Albany to do this yourself -- it might even be cheaper. Details of the search-service fees can be found on the website of the New York State Department of Health Vital Records Section.

Divorce Records
Since 1847 divorce actions in New York have been handled in the Supreme Court for the county in which the divorce was heard. New York divorce files, however, are sealed for 100 years. In colonial times, petitions for divorce had to be made to the governor or legislature, and only a few were granted. The Chancery Court granted divorces from 1787 to 1847. These older records are in the state archives.

New York State Archives
New York Department of Education
Room 11D40
Cultural Education Center
Albany, NY 12230

Phone: (518) 474-8955

Naturalization Records
Naturalization records are available at the Albany County Clerk's office.

Albany County Clerk
Albany County Hall of Records
95 Tivoli St.
Albany, NY 12207

Phone: (518) 436-3663
Fax: (518) 436-3678

Send additions, corrections, comments or suggestions to:
Debby Masterson

Go Back to Home Page