These are scanned images of the index to marriages that occurred in the state of New York, originally compiled by the New York State Department of Health (NYS DOH). This information was obtained through a New York State Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request filed by the non-profit organization Reclaim The Records against the NYS DOH in September 2017. Marriage index data was requested from 1881 through December 21, 2016, but the NYS DOH only delivered data up through December 31, 1965.
The missing 1966-2016 portion of the New York State marriage index is currently the subject of an ongoing Freedom of Information lawsuit, filed by Reclaim The Records against the NYS DOH in the Supreme Court of New York, Albany county, in the summer of 2018.
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 marriage 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).
Note that this index does not contain lists of marriages 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 marriage 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.
To access the marriage license index data for New York City, please visit NYCMarriageIndex.com, which compiles the 1908-2017 data obtained by Reclaim The Records in three previous successful Freedom of Information lawsuits against the New York City Municipal Archives and the New York City Clerk's Office.
Please also note that marriages 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 marriages and kept their own records.
I found a name, now what?
This record set is only the index to New York State marriage 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 marriage license or certificate, which will have much more information on it, such as the spouses' places of birth and the names of their parents. In New York State, a marriage license which is more than 50 years old is considered to be open and available to the public. Marriage licenses less than fifty years old are open to the public only if both parties to the marriage are deceased and you can provide proof of their deaths, or if you are an attorney or legal representative of one of the parties. 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 or license, 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.