This publication is the first time that this information has been made freely available to the general public in digital form on the Internet. Previously, this birth index information was only available as individual microfiche sheets, which were often faded and scratched and quite hard to read, and they were only available at a small number of New York public libraries, as well as the New York City branch of the National Archives (NARA). Those publicly available copies also generally did not go past 1938. Reclaim The Records obtained and published the data from 1881 up through 1942. Later years of the birth index may become publicly available in future years.
Note that this index does not contain lists of births from New York City. New York City is considered to be an entirely separate vital records jurisdiction from the rest of New York state, and consequently the city has its own birth, marriage, and death indices. However, a small number of NYC birth listings are found scattered throughout this index, either because the births happened in towns that were previously independent before the consolidation of the city in 1898 (for example, a pre-1898 birth in a place like Canarsie [Brooklyn] or Flushing [Queens] might be listed here) or because there was a late birth registration.
Note too that births that took place in the cities of Albany, Buffalo, and Yonkers are not included until about 1914 or 1915; those three cities did not initially participate in the statewide registration of births and kept their own records.
I found a name, now what?
This record set is only the index to New York State birth records. If you find a name of a relative or other person of interest in this index, you can then place an order for a copy of the original birth certificate, which will have much more information on it, such as the person's place of birth and the names of the person's parents. In New York State, a birth certificate of a deceased person which is more than 75 years old is considered to be open and available to the public. You can order a copy directly from the NYS DOH in Albany. Alternately, you can also try ordering a copy from the exact city clerk or town clerk, which may be faster than dealing with Albany but which might only provide a typed extract of the information on the certificate instead of a photocopy version.
This data is in the public domain. There are no usage restrictions or copyrights attached to it. Feel free to use it however you'd like. But if you put it on your website or transcribe it, Reclaim The Records would appreciate a reference note in your "about this database" source box, and/or a link back to our website, just to acknowledge the work and initiative that went into researching and releasing these records back to the public.