Thursday, April 26, 2012

Genealogy Research - How to look up New York City Death Certificates

How to look up New York City Death Certificates

Death certificates can be important resources for anyone interested in their family history. You can find information about a deceased ancestors parents, residence and other info.

If you have a relative's name and approximate date and/or location of their death you can look up the death certificate number on It's okay if you're not Italian, they have a substantial index (which is searchable) of NYC death certificates. If too many people come up in your search with the same name and you're not sure which is your relative, you may need more information to narrow it down.

Once you do get the death certificate number, you can order it from the LDS Church (just as Italiangen is not just for Italians, the LDS Church records service will serve everyone), or you can order it from New York City Department of Records (but it is more expensive). Records from the LDS Church are $2 (minimum order is $4) and the NYC Dept of records is $15 per record, if memory serves. I have used both and you can use either one.

To order from the LDS Church you need to know the microfilm number that the certificate is on. To find the microfilm number go to this website:

Click on "Place Search" and search for "New York." Click on "New York, New York (City)" and scroll down until you find "New York, New York (City) - Vital records", probably on the next page. Now look for "Death certificates (Manhattan, New York), 1919-1948", after clicking that look in the upper right for a button that says "View Film Notes."

You will then see date ranges and certificate numbers for each of the film numbers. Be aware that the certificate numbers may go back to "1" for each year, make sure your looking at the right date range. Hit the "Next film notes" button at the bottom to go to the next set of films. They're in date order. Note down the film number (FHL US/CAN Film) once you find it.

Now you need to find the "Request for Photocopies; Census Records, Books, Microfilm or Microfiche" form. At the time of this writing you can find it here:

Fill your address, email, phone, payment info etc on the first page. On the second page you are looking for the "General Microfilm or Microfiche" section. In the first column, enter the microfilm number. in the name column, put the name. In the widest column put "Death: NY, NY", put "D" in the next column, the date of death in the next column, "NY,NY" in the next column and the Death Certificate number in the last column. Ignore any columns I did not mention. Remember the minimum order is $4 and the records are $2 each, so it makes sense to request two different certificates at once if you have information and the inclination. Put your payment and the forms in an envelope and mail them off to the photoduplication unit.

That's it! Remember this is going by mail and coming back by mail. And someone has to look through a microfilm reel to find your record so it may take a few weeks or more.

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