DOH 2009 Project

Recently on the NY Genealogy group on Facebook, a person posted a link to a document from 2009 by the NY State Department of Health (DOH). “Request of Information” was about digitizing all their vital records. The document did add some knowledge to the amount of records that they have collected.

They have approximately 16.3 million birth records from 1880 to 2009. Of these 99% of those are paper records and just 1% are on microfilm.

They have approximately 7.8 million marriage records from 1881 to 2009. Of those 82% are on microfilm and the rest on paper. Marriages records consist of 3 documents; affidavit (after 1916), license and certificate. The newest records have all three documents on one page but older records are two or three pages.

DOH also has approx. 2.6 million records of dissolution of marriage from 1963 – 2009. The older records (1963 – 1999) are on microfilm and the more current are on paper.

They have approximately 10.4 million death records from 1881 to 2009. Of these 78% are on microfilm.Most of the rest are on paper except for a few which are computer records.

They also have approximately 2.5 million fetal death records from 1880 – 2009. There are 76% of these on microfilm; with only the last 10 years being on paper. I not sure if these deaths were recorded on the death indexes that recently became available.

That would have been a total of 39.6 million records that they wanted digitized. They were going to digitize a lot from microfilm which isn’t a good idea. They really should digitize from the original paper records as old microfilm images are not always the best quality.

The vital records in Albany do not include records for New York City. NYC has their own collection. NYC digitized some of their collection in 2016. Also not include in the records in Albany are the vital records fro Buffalo, Yonkers and Albany before Jan. 1, 1914.

Another part of their project was to index all the digitized records. Each kind of records had a different number of “fields” that were to be indexed. In computer terms, a “field” would be a given name, surname, date, etc. They approximated the number of keystrokes (letter or number) within each field. Then the project would end up being approximately 5.7 billion keystrokes to index all the records. That is a bigger project than digitizing the records.

It has been 10 years since the DOH asked for estimates that had to be submitted by Aug. 16, 2009. It didn’t happen at that time. Rumors are that they may have only recently begun to do some digitization. If that is true, they would probably start at more recent records and work backwards.

One Comment

  1. I want to leave a comment just slightly off topic. I read several articles last year about the fact that the Irish records which were lost in the 1922 (?) fire are now part of a project to be recreated and digitized, which will be a MASSIVE assist to ever genealogist with some Irish ancestry. I believe it’s said the records are to be completed by 2021 (?). This should make many of us immensely happy!

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