New York City Department of Health Proposes Adoption of 125 Years for Birth Records 50 Years for Death Records Embargoes

Here is another attempt to lock up records for many year, records that legally are in the public domain. The following announcement was written by the New York City Department of Health:

The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene is proposing a schedule of when the Board of Health can make birth and death records available and transfer then to the NYC Department of Records and Information Services (DORIS). The Municipal Archives is within DORIS. The proposal is to place embargo periods for birth records for 125 years from date of birth and 75 years from date of death. This is similar to the 2011 Model Vital Records Act which imposes a 125 year embargo on birth records, 75 years for death, and 100 years for marriage records. The proposal is also asking for input for a 50 year vs 75 year embargo for death for those involved with family history. In New York City marriage records are under the City Clerk’s Office, not the Department of Health, and therefore marriage records are not included in this New York City Department of Health proposal.

Records currently at DORIS (birth records up to 1909 and death records to 1949) are not affected by the proposed rule.
A hearing is scheduled for October 24, 2017

You can submit comments to the NYC Rules website at http://rules.cityofnewyork.us
or email them to resolutioncomments@health.nyc.gov

The attached notice [at http://bit.ly/2xud1uc] has the address of the hearing and or US Postal address to send written statements.

As 50 percent of all immigrants came through Ellis Island when it was open, most people have an interest in New York City

24 Comments

Did they give a reason?

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If the below copied data is legal within most of New York State, why is New York City continuing to discriminate against people desiring vital records from New York City?
I hope Reclaim the Records takes these power-mad bureaucrats to Court and makes the City pay the court costs.

Vital records registration started in New York State outside of New York City in 1881. Generally, the New York State Department of Health provides uncertified copies of the following types of records for genealogy research purposes:
Birth certificates – if on file for at least 75 years and the person whose name is on the birth certificate is known to be deceased.
Death certificates – if on file for at least 50 years.
Marriage certificates – if on file for at least 50 years and both spouses are known to be deceased.

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The reason given one page 3 in their notice is:
“The Department believes that these proposed schedules balance the need to protect the personal information of people who may be alive, especially as it relates to the problem of identity theft as well as other privacy issues, with the public’s right to access historically important records, including the specific interests of families, genealogists and other researchers.”
In other words, they are concerned about identity theft and we know that genealogists are not the cause of identity theft but hacking into large databases such as Equifax, Target, government, financial institutions, medical offices are the cause–that has been documented with many articles and genealogists are not mentioned as the cause!
If you are in the NYC area on October 24 come to the hearing and make your voice heard or submit a statement before the hearing as listed above
Jan Meisels Allen
Chairperson, IAJGS Public Records Access Monitoring Committee

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    First of all – I did go to the web address above and it’s not showing the hearing for this. If anyone knows the location, please let me know. Thanks

    My problem with this is: My grandfather was born and adopted in 1911. He is dead, his wife is dead. My dad is still alive but using the “125” years – he will be dead. Me the granddaughter I am 50 so in 2036 I will be 68 – hopefully still alive. How in the world does this seem right. I’m sorry but this is wrong. Even his “birth mother and father” are DEAD. Other states allow these documents and as far as I can see are not having the issues that New York is stating. Hell if it’s such a problem then let the ones that can justify needing the information have it. I will jump through hoops to get that dang Original Birth Certificate. I have his adoption records but I can’t get the original birth certificate is crazy. I can not go to court and ask the judge and it is not a reasonable option. My dad can’t send off for it either and he is his son.

    Liked by 1 person

    I am old rnough tobremember before internet and hacking, there were many instances of identity theft , many using the names from headstones and information taken from obituaries and headstones in cemetaries, also the social security numbers were standard identification everywhere,check cashing, etc. I can understand why government agrncirscarevtrying to protect birth and death records, atvleast for the protection of the next generation. I don’t believe it is a personal affront to Genealogists, there is still plenty of information available.
    My opinion.

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    Releasing death information actually helps *prevent* identity theft. The more people know that a particular person is dead, the harder it becomes for a living person to impersonate them.

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Maybe it’s just my political bias showing, but it has always seemed to be an axiom that, the more liberal (politically) the US state, the harder it is to get decent records. What I’ve been able to find in places like NY, NJ, and CA is consistently either nothing at all or near-worthless “indexes” that reveal little useful information; they surrender the good stuff only in return for cash. NYC, being the bastion of leftism it is, gives me another demonstration of my axiom’s truth here.

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    NYC surrenders nothing, for cash or otherwise. Their records are kept separately from the rest of New York State. This is not a left or right issue. It is purely a bureaucratic turf war. They propose to make it harder to obtain records because of “identity theft”. In reality, genealogical and other vital records have been a minimal part of identity theft. There are much easier ways to do this.

    Liked by 1 person

    I agree with you on California being so difficult and costly to get info. My father was born in California but died in Florida. It cost me $25 to get his birth cert and $4 to get his death cert. What is wrong with this picture? His mother was born in Texas and died in California. I have her birth record for free because it was online and will have to pay $25 for her death cert. Plus California’s indexes are not that great and hard to figure out at times. The marriage index for my parents’ marriage only lists their name and the date they were married. I would have to, once again, pay to get their marriage cert if I want to see any additional info. So for just my parents’ certificate info I will have spent almost $100, that’s so crazy. This is why it’s taking me so long to get the necessary info needed to move forward with the research on my father’s line.

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    I disagree completely. NY (at least NYC), NJ, and CA have (for the time-being) pretty excellent access to records. The CA indexes are online as late as the 1990s (including births – unheard of in many states), and one can obtain informational copies of any of those records by paying a fee. Many of NJ’s records haven’t been digitized and made available (as per state law), but anyone that wants to access them (births to 1923, marriages to 1946, deaths to 1955) can do so by visiting the Archives in Trenton, or hiring a local researcher – both options bringing in money to the state. One also generally has an option to receive a non-certified copy of a vital record by paying a fee. NYC is much the same – anyone that wants to access the records can visit the Municipal Archives, or hire a local researcher. Records preservation and access isn’t free, nor should it be. I don’t understand why it’s a problem for states or localities to require payment in order to obtain records. The law that Dick has posted about is worrisome, but it seems extremely unlikely to pass, IMHO.

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    I don’t mind paying – I just want a copy of the original birth certificate – doesn’t even need to be certified. I also don’t believe the reason is “identity theft” either.

    Again has anyone tried going to the NY page and posting a comment? I could not find the proposal to post a comment.

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This is another step backwards. I “get it” about identity theft. But, how many people live to be 125? If they are going to do this, which I hope they won’t be able to. How about making it realistic and the cutoff for births would be 90 or 100? And deaths should be no more than 50.
I hope someone can stop this. I will go to the website and make my comments. Thanks for letting us know Dick.

Liked by 1 person

David Paul Davenport September 20, 2017 at 3:08 pm

IF these bureaucrats were truly concerned with identify theft they would “merge” the birth and death records so that births for those whose identities could provide nefarious people with the basis for opening bank accounts (usually children who die in infancy) would be stamped with “DECEASED” (and the date and place). This would stop a great deal of the theft that does take place.

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Wow! That would almost put an end to genealogy research! If I hadn’t found my grandparents’ 1928 marriage record, I would have never uncovered the treasures of my family. They date back to the 1600s in CT and Long Island. I would still know nothing because my Mom was estranged from her family. How sad….I have to wait until 2027 to try to get a divorce record, isn’t that punishment enough?

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@Chuck Weinstein. I have to disagree with you. I have managed to find information on my New York City ancestors fairly easily. Also information from many other states is relatively easy EXCEPT – try to get ANYTHING from KANSAS!

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richvenezia
What is the procedure to secure a copy of a will for someone who died in 1955? Thanks’

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    richvenezia
    Sorry to repeat. Looking for the will of a Californian who died in 1955. Thanks.

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    Generally wills are public record. You’re looking at the county probate court, usually. See who handles wills (usually probate courts; called Surrogate’s Court in NY and NJ, for instance) in the county in which the deceased lived. Oftentimes, the offices may not do this research for you, so you may need to hire a local genealogist to get this for you if you are not local to the area.

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    Look into the county probate court. Wills are generally always public record.

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Come on folks, it doesn’t help when 20 of you comment here, but there are only three comments on the rules.cityofnewyork.us website! Please take the three minutes to go there, register, and comment!

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    Ok finally I can see the spot to comment – I have left comments on here that I could not find the rule. Thank you and will comment!!

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    Some of us commented via the email link as opposed to setting up an account and creating another set of login information to have to remember.

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