At the Rochester Genealogical Society meeting on Thursday, we had differing opinions about if FamilySearch and Ancestry have shared indexes of NY State records. The answer is complicated.
You can go to this special webpage on Ancestry to get free access to the 1892, 1915 and 1925 NY state census. You have to enter a zip code to get that access. I found that any zip between 10001 and 14899 will work. Ancestry got those census records from the NY State Library. as part of the deal Ancestry had to make those records available to NY State residents for free. FamilySearch has those same census records online and the indexes appear to be exactly the same. I can tell because they both have the same strange spellings for some of my family members.
FamilySearch first posted the 1892 census and index in 2009 and Ancestry only posted that census in 2012. So it appears that Ancestry is sharing an index done by the FamilySearch indexing volunteers. The actual images of the census pages look better on Ancestry. They probably have done some image correction on their records.
For the 1915 and 1925 NY census, the indexes on both websites also appear the same. Again both FamilySearch and Ancestry have the same bad spellings of some of my family members. On FamilySearch to view the census record page they send you to Ancestry and if you don’t have a paid account, you get the message to sign up to Ancestry. For 1915 and 1925 start on the special Ancestry webpage and you can view those census records for free. So the indexes for those two census were completed by Ancestry and have been shared to FamilySearch.
The 1855, 1875 and 1905 NY State census are only indexed on FamilySearch where they are also linked to the census record page.
The 1865 NY State census is currently only “browse-able” on FamilySearch. There is a indexing project on FamilySearch to index that census (see this page). I can’t find anything that tells me how far along that indexing project is. Hopefully it will be completed in 2014.
There are also NY census records from 1825, 1835 and 1845. They are like the old Federal census, in that they only list the name of the head of household and then have age groupings for the rest of the family. None of those census records have been indexed. You can order microfilms in one of the regional Family History Libraries. On the bottom part of this webpage is a county listing that tells what is available and missing. You can click on the links for the county you want to order and it will take you another page that will give the microfilm number.
All of the NY State census are missing some records. On FamilySearch they sometimes give missing counties in the description For the best information on what is missing for each census, click on “Learn More.” All of the NY State census records were held in the past at the individual county, usually at the county Courthouse. For both the 1915 and 1925, extra copies were made and they have been in the NY State Library.