NYC Proposal to Further Restrict Access to Vital Records

The New York City Health Department of Health and Mental Hygiene has proposed a new rule that would restrict access to birth records for 125 years and death records for 75 years. A hearing is scheduled for 10:00 a.m., October 24, 2017, at the Gotham Center, 42-09 28th Street, 3rd Floor, Room 3-32, Long Island, NY 11101-4132. We encourage all genealogists who have ancestors who lived in New York City to submit  a letter opposing the longer embargo periods and genealogists who live in New York City to attend the hearing.

We want to thank the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society for taking the lead in opposing the additional embargo dates. On the NYG&B website at you will find more information, a sample letter you can customize and mail, or you can sign a letter NYG&B will be sending to the New York City Health Department.

The copy of the birth certificate which is  included with this post is an example of a document which would not be accessible under the new NYC Health Department proposal even though Hector Bonanno died in 1969. Fortunately the record was available when I visited New York City in 2015 and obtained this birth certificate and many other documents for a friend.

The proposal by the New York City Health Department includes some of the provisions of the proposed 2011 Model Vital Statistics Act which we have written about before. Over the last few years, genealogists have been able to stop other efforts to extend the embargo periods for vital records by writing letters and appearing at public hearings. Let our voices be heard!


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Jan Alpert

Chair of the Records Preservation and Access Committee, former president and board member of the National Genealogical Society, and chair of the NGS conference committee.

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