Reclaim the Records has won another major victory in obtaining records from the New York City Clerk’s Office, under the New York State Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) and placing them online. The following is an extract from a recent Reclaim the Records newsletter:
Introducing…the NYC Marriage Index!
That’s right, you can now search through the index to New York City marriage licenses for 1950-1995, for free! Our search engine even recognizes soundalike surnames, spelling variants, wildcards (with no minimum number of letters needed), common nicknames, year ranges, borough preferences, and more.
Or you can download all the raw data files in XLS, CSV, or SQL format, and do whatever you want with them — also free! We hope that some major genealogy companies and organizations will also add this new data to their websites, but as usual, that’s entirely up to them.
The links to all the new files are right there on that website, so please feel free to grab them and add them to your own genealogy collections, if you’d like. No strings attached!
The final count of the marriage licenses in this data set: 3,124,595 licenses, which means a little over six million people. You might even see a few famous names in there.
Now, this database we got from the City Clerk’s Office isn’t perfect:
- There are several obvious misspellings of common given names, like “Rchard” for “Richard“, etc. There are also many names with obviously transposed letters.
- Some surnames, compound surnames, and hyphenated surnames have inconsistent spacing and punctuation in them. For example, people whose surname was “McMann” or other names starting with “Mc” may have had their names listed in the database as “Mc Mann” (with a space after the “Mc”).
- Most middle names were either not recorded at all, or were recorded as part of the given name.
- There are at least 28,000 to 30,000 missing records for Manhattan for 1967 alone. Those records do exist at the City Clerk’s Office on paper, but for some reason they are not listed in this database. We’ll probably discover other small batches of missing records as we continue to explore all this new information.
- This means that for the handful of years where there exists both the microfilm of the original images and the database, people might want to check out and compare both sources, just in case.
All that being said, we think you’ll agree that it’s nice to finally have this information available to the public.
And we’re not stopping here. We’ll be following up this successful public records request with two more requests in early 2017, asking for the 1996-2016 continuation of this NYC marriage license index data, as well as the 1988-2016 NYC domestic partnership database. Hopefully it will be a lot easier to get that new data without a protracted legal fight, now that City Clerk’s Office knows who we are and knows that we’re committed to making them hand over the data to the public — and perhaps even pay our attorneys fees, if need be.
Enjoy the new www.nycmarriageindex.com site, and all the downloadable data files, and happy searching!