Apr 25, 2023

Genealogists Say the State of New York Hinders Their Research Into Ancestry

Rick Karlin has published at article in the web site that should be required reading for every genealogist who has new York ancestors (even if the ancestor(s) only stayed in the state for a brief time after passing through Ellis Island). 

His article points out that the State Dept. of Health since the pandemic can take years to dig up death or birth records sought by family tree researchers:

“The popularity of TV shows like as “Finding Your Roots,” advances in DNA technology, websites like and growing interest in immigration have led to a genealogy boom.

“More and more amateur genealogists are researching their family trees to trace their lineages, searches that may lead to towns in Ireland or Italy, long-lost shtetls in Eastern Europe or ancient villages in Africa or Asia.

“New York state is a ground zero for such research, given how many families can trace their roots through Ellis Island, and thanks to the state’s earlier role as one of the original 13 colonies.

“Ironically, state government is now being blamed for running in reverse of the trend, hindering work of researchers. In particular,  genealogists are roundly criticizing the Department of Health over the time they are taking to respond to record requests.

“The agency, genealogist say, has dropped what used to be an efficient system for providing key data like indexes or lists of birth, death and marriage records.

“Until a few years ago, the health department could expedite requests and even had a walk-up window at its Albany headquarters where people could ask for records in person. Now, requests have to be made online and wait times can easily run for two years or longer.

“Interviews with several genealogists and genealogy organizations suggest New York has emerged as one of the most difficult states nationally for finding vital records.”

The full article is much longer and is available at:

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