History has been unlocked in NYC.
As first reported by 6sqft.com, the Municipal Archives, one of the largest repositories of government records in North America that spans four centuries, just released 9.3 million historical vital records on a free, online platform that anyone can access. That includes more than 2 million still images, thousands of hours of film and video footage, legislative and mayoral documents, and the most comprehensive collection of records pertaining to the administration of criminal justice in the English-speaking world.
The new online vital records platform lets visitors search and view birth records (1866-1909), death certificates (1862-1948), and marriage licenses (1866-1949) and download high-quality copies at no cost.
That means that if your ancestors were born, married or died in NYC, you'll be able to find their relevant documents for your genealogy project. You can search them by using a certificate number, which yields the quickest results. If you don't have that, you can search by name.
According to 6sqft, future iterations of the platform may include crowd-sourced data and give the certificate number, as well as instructions on how to view and order a copy of the certificate. Right now, 70% of the archives' 13.3 million records have been digitized.
For now, check out its tips on how to search for records and play around! Other cool things you can find in the archives include exquisitely detailed drawings of the Brooklyn Bridge and Central Park, for one.
The records have been undergoing digitization since 2013 and recently Mayor Eric Adams announced his approval for the completion of the project.
"These historical records will not only serve as an essential resource for family historians across the country and around the world but will allow everyday New Yorkers to learn more about their personal history and explore their roots," Adams said in a statement. “My administration is committed to expanding access to city resources and providing New Yorkers with the information they need."
Already, Eric K. Washington, the author of Boss of the Grips: The Life of James H. Williams and the Red Caps of Grand Central Terminal, said that these online records made it possible for him to finish his book.
“Bravo, and thank you! I could never have fleshed out the bygone Harlem figure of my biography, Boss of the Grips, without obtaining various birth, death, or marriage certificates from the Municipal Archives," he said. "Thankfully, the digitization of such crucial records will now spare lots of researchers from unavoidably fruitless transit hours and fares."