Reclaim The Records Wins Another Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) Request: New York State Department of Health Concedes the New York State Death Index is to become Available to the Public under Open Records Laws

I often write about bad news in which legislators and bureaucrats keep blocking genealogists from accessing records that legally qualify as public domain. Therefore, it is great to report another victory from Reclaim The Records!

An announcement from Reclaim The Records states:

“After seventeen months of work, we have now forced the New York State Department of Health to concede that this data is, and should be, available to the public under open records laws. We secured the first ever public copies of this important state death index, which the Department of Health has digitized for us, scanned from the original vault copies. They are high-resolution greyscale images, with the entire set comprising about 3/4 of a terabyte of data on a portable hard drive. (That’s a lot of dead people.)

“This death index covers 1880-1956, which is seventy-seven years!”

You can read all the details at:


Such great news! This will help me locate my Converse and Mills lines death records from upstate New York!!


Yea! Good news for a change!


This is wonderful. Will also help me find a Scottish great-aunt in upper-state New York.


And they can be downloaded: Select Download Format/Choose a format to begin your download./PDF/ePub/Plain Text/DAISY/Kindle


This is fabulous. Since New York is where so many of my ancestors settled, very good news. Thanks


Hoping this helps with some of my New York State questions that do appear to be in this time frame. Thanks for the update.


Since I’m from Upstate NY and obviously have(and had) relatives there this could be a great help.


Is there a way of finding out is Ancestry, MyHeritage, or FamilySearch (of many) is downloading and indexing these for easier access? Some folks have tried to download the text versions, etc but no joy. And if local groups start a project to get just their area, they might be duplicating efforts.


Wonderful news! Any idea when this could be available?


    The actual files themselves are now available on Just waiting to see if there is going to be a major indexing project.


I appreciate these efforts. Still having trouble getting my 3x great grandfather 1923 death record from New Lebanon NY. The town clerk office was horrible and are giving me a terrible time getting his death certificate.


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