The indexes to marriages in New York State are online at Ancestry. The credit actually goes to Reclaim the Records who filed the Freedom of Information request to get the indexes out of the NY State Department of Health. In order to compile with the request, the Health Department needed to have their indexes scanned. They had Ancestry do the scanning for free. So Ancestry ended up being able to put the indexes online first. Eventually Reclaim the Records will put the indexes online to view for free on the Internet Archive.
These indexes do NOT include New York City. They also do NOT include Albany, Buffalo and Yonkers before 1914. Early records do include Brooklyn and the Bronx before they came part of the City of New York.
Early indexes have some cities abbreviated; “Buf.” for Buffalo, “Uta” for Utica and “Rch.” for Rochester. Ancestry made the mistake of thinking that “Rch.” was the abbreviation for Richmond which will probably mislead many people.
The 1881 index is only 98 pages. Compliance with the vital records law was poor at first. There were some marriages in the 1880s that I couldn’t find in the indexes as their marriage license wasn’t sent to Albany.
Ancestry did connect spouses in some cases by matching certificate numbers. If you can’t find a person by searching, you can browse through the index and see if the name is actually in the index. Some of the pages are almost impossible to read like the illustration. That is the first page of the 1941 index. You can right click on the image and make it bigger and see if you can read any of the names on this part of the page. If you are browsing through pages, it should be noted that indexes from 1881 to 1939 are alphabetical and indexes from 1940 – 1967 use the Soundex system (see this page for explanation of Soundex).
One person that I looked for had the surname of Hasbouck. I ended up finding him in the index as Hasbrook. Is it possible that when the Department of Health indexed the record they misread the name? That means that they introduced some indexing errors. I’m sure that when Ancestry created their digital index of the names that they weren’t 100% correct especially as there are pages that are difficult to read. There are many ways that a name might not appear in this online index.
These index images were made off the master microfiche in the Department of Health. Did they throw out the paper copies that the microfiche were made from? You would think that they should have saved at least one copy of the paper indexes.