Monday, March 10, 2008

New York State Vital Records Microfiche Indexes Update

Update to New York State Vital Records Microfiche Indexes. -- Free Look Ups!

The recent posting that we put up on this Blog, “How to Obtain Copies of Vital Records for Genealogical Purposes in New York State,” has created quite a buzz. Now we have some very good news for you distant researchers!

The Local History/Genealogy Department of the Onondaga County Public Library (OCPL) in Syracuse has one of the eight sets of the microfiche indexes to Births, Deaths and Marriages, that cover the largest part of Upstate New York.

Librarian, Holly Sammons, at OCPL has made the offer to do the actual look-ups for distant patrons. This is just one of the marvelous services that this most excellent facility has to offer.

That is just about the best news ever for people that live in areas that do not have a set of these Vital Records microfiche available. My personal thoughts are that patrons should respect this extremely generous offer and to not inundate the staff all at once with requests.

Holly said that they will be happy to chat with patrons by telephone, through email or will even take requests by U.S. Mail. You should check out their excellent website also which gives additional information about their collections and services.

Holly Sammons, Librarian
Onondaga County Public Library
Local History/Genealogy
447 So Salina St.
Syracuse, NY 13202

OCPL website:

OCPL email address:

Holly just sent this additional information just before I posted this Blog, so please heed the following instructions: “Just one caveat, we can't do open ended searches like - my great grandmother died sometime after 1900 can you find her death! Some parameters are good and necessary. We used to do a limit of a 5-year search, just to keep things from getting out of hand. There's a fine line between a look up and doing in-depth research!”

Read our previous post about how to obtain vital records certificate copies for genealogy HERE:

Researchers might want to check with the other libraries and holders of this collection around the state to see if they offer the same service.

Thank you OCPL, from Upstate New York Genealogy Blog.

Visit our main website at

Read the original message on this subject here: "How to Obtain Copies of Vital Records."

Read the third message on this subject here: "Update to the Update to How to Obtain Copies of Vital Records."

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Anonymous said...


Dick, do you happen to know the range of years covered by this source?


unyg said...

You will want to read the original Blog message about this subject. It is very lengthy and it will be a whole lot easier that to have me say it all again. The law started in 1880/1881.

Anonymous said...

I see nothing there. What a waste of time

unyg said...

If you want to wait just a little longer the page will build. If someone is on an older computer, or a dialup Internet connection it usually takes a little while longer for the page to fill in. Don't ask me why, I have tried to speed it up the best I can.

Patience is a virtue.

Anonymous said...

that is great.!!!

unyg said...

Glad that it will help you Daryl.

Thanks very much for the feedback.

Thank you to all of you that respond, it means a whole lot to me, and some times I forget to say how much I appreciate all of your comments.

Thank you all!


Anonymous said...

Thank you, Dick, for sharing this great news!

in Costa Rica

unyg said...

Linda in Costa Rica!

Your's is just the case where this service is very much needed.

I'm happy for you.

Anonymous said...

Genealogists would tailor their requests for free lookups if they knew the
sequence of the vital recs on the fiche.
For example; if one wanted a copy of the data for all the Van
Loons/Loans/Lones, and if the fiche are sequenced by surname, and if the
looker-upper could just shoot a copy of that portion of a microfiche, then a
genealogist such as me, with a relatively rare surname, would get their data
and shut up and go away.
If, however, the fiche are in date sequence, or by several date ranges,
then the genealogist would tailor their request for whatever Van
Loon/Loan/Lones are in a particular date range.
No one wants to be obnoxious and say, "please give me all the
data on SMITH", but I sure would like all the data on the VanLoons -- I mean
that is REALLY what I want, and for rare surnames, there is no logical
reason why it cannot be provided if it is all on one page of a microfiche.
I have never read or heard what fields are on the fiche, what sequence they
are in, or for that matter which vital records are available (B?-M?-D?) so I
do not know if asking for all the VL's would be out of line.
Dick, maybe your blog could contain an image of a microfiche page (maybe
the Van L___ section - ha!)

unyg said...


If you take a look at the original Blog message about this subject, see the Link on the last Blog, it explains it very well.

Actually that type of request will NOT be filled, as they are not arranged all nice and alphabetical. Read the original Blog and it is all spelled out.

OCPL will most likely be helping with very specific requests for a known person and approximate date within a couple of years.

Anonymous said...

I have been unable to access informationon the free look ups. Where
should I send a request?

unyg said...

Joye and others.

I suspected this might happen, but please try it again. The Blog site is getting thousands of hits and it is just responding slowly. If you go to and wait for the page to fill in (it will at first appear quite dark,) it will fill in eventually. If you are on broadband there should be no problem. If dialup it will take longer, but hey free is worth the wait.

Anonymous said...

As a West Coast resident, I was delighted to hear that NY records would somehow be made available to those of us who are unable to drive down to the local NY library. NY seems to have been very shy about letting the rest of us learn anything. Is this my impression, or is it so?

Having drained online resources and come up dry, I would welcome the opportunity to work with original records, which may be more reliable than "cookie-cutter" family trees.

Good luck, everyone!!! Are we going to be able to get help from the Onondaga library?

unyg said...

M.S. Thanks for the comment.

Let's hope it works out for you.

Anonymous said...

Great, thank you so much. I have been trying and it gives me a
lot of info, but not much that I need.


unyg said...

Pam, Thanks for the input.

I enjoyed our little Southern Tier chat.

Anonymous said...

This email is to anyone who hasn't researched the
New York State Birth, Marriage, and Death index.

There are many microfiche in this index. The births,
marriages, and deaths are all on a separate fiche, and
they are arranged alphabetically through certain years,
then through soundex in the later years. The index only
tells last name, date of event and where the record is

I have found the best way to order the record
after you know the last name is directly from the NYS
Health Dept. as they will send you a copy of the actual
records. I have never received a copy of the actual record
from a clerk, but instead received a genealogy copy. The
process is so much faster if you know the state record copy.

I am only writing this so you all know what it takes to
search the film. I am excited to learn that the Onondaga
Library will do free look-ups for those out-of-state but wanted
to let you know why there has to be a time frame of the event for
the librarian searching.

unyg said...

Thanks Susan

Anonymous said...

Thanks! It's a hot ticket!

unyg said...

You've got that right. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Interesting. I had been in contact with Holly (Syracuse Library) about
2 years ago. She's excellent.
I highly recommand her.

unyg said...

Couldn't agree more.