Without any notice, the NY State Department of Health has put part of their death index online. So far it is very limited with deaths from 1 Jan. 1957 to 28 Feb. 1963. Gail Fischer from the New York State Archives was a speaker at the September 2012 meeting of the Rochester Genealogical Society. During that meeting she told that NY State, in a relationship with Ancestry.com, was going to put vital record indexes on-line. Is this new web page a result of that partnership? Probably; but there is no way to be sure as NY State doesn’t have any information on the web page. Note that the death index does NOT include any records for New York City which has always maintained their own records.
This death index web page needs some work as it is difficult complicated as their isn’t any directions. Instead of having a search box, there is a “filter” on the right side of the web page. The only visible filter is for “year of death.” In order to filter for other items, you need to repeatedly click on the “Add a New Filter Condition” box to add other filter boxes. I noticed that after I entered a surname that I had to check the small box to the left of the surname, twice for the page to be updated. The update will give you a smaller number of results based on your “filters.”
Data included in this index are the name, age, gender, date of death and a residence code. It took a lot of digging to find a link to this PDF file that tells what Towns the residence code refer to. That document has pages referenced by residence code and also pages referenced alphabetically by town.
This web page from the NY State Department of Health tells how to order a copy of the original death certificate if you find someone in your family. Note that the average time for DOH to send you a copy of the death certificate is around 6 months.
There are many unanswered questions about this DOH death index. Is this the finished web page? Will they be adding older deaths? Will they add marriages or births in the future? It appears that we will have to wait for answers.