I think I have posted the Memorandum dated 11 Feb 1998 that Robert
Freeman sent me when I had a problem getting a marriage certificate for a
lawyer for an estate I was working on.
Mr. Freeman states that the NYS Dept. of Health has agreed to use the
parameters described in the memorandum for its consideration of requests
for marriage records.
In January 1991, when I had just moved back from Florida, I spent a good
sum of money for postage and printing of a letter used in a campaign to
get the Health Dept to place the microfiche index to the Archives where
they now are. We involved people from all over NYS and the US who had
encountered problems in obtaining the info they needed and were
instructed to contact legislators and the governor. Examples were given
showing the availability in other states and pointing out the revenue
that NYS is not receiving from the sale of these records. In August or
September of 1990, they had closed the Health Dept office (in the tallest
building in Empire Plaza) where one could walk in and look up the
available vital records index, fill in the paper work, pay for them and
receive them the same day before you left Albany. If you got in at 9am,
you would have them by noon and had the rest of the day at the NYS
Library to research the new ancestors you discovered on the certificates.
I was in touch with staff at the library and archives thru the many
meetings and communications between the staff of the archives and Health
Dept. which went on for all of the Spring of 1991with many delays from
the Health Dept. Finally about July of 1991, they were put in place in
the Archives for the public to use. They had to agree to many points,
one of the major ones is that they will not be reproduced in paper form.
Again, here is another form of revenue that would be rolling in if they
would print them in book form and sell them to the world. A firm in NYC
and one in Salt Lake City that do Heirs to Estates research exclusively
have purchased printed and microform copies of vital records from every
state possible. They have access to more information that we doing
genealogy research can possibly imagine.
I applied for a job in Florida to locate people. They said I was
overqualified for their needs and wouldn't make a good employee for the
work they did. Being a workaholic, I was really offended by that but it
turned out to be a collection agency for bad debts.
They gave me a test like none I had ever taken. It proved that I had a
soft heart for people with problems and probably wouldn't be "forceful
enough" to collect a penny and would probably go buy the people food
instead. They showed me their latest edition of computers which was the
Donnelly Directories like you see in the library in hard copy. Guess
what? Within 30 days of changing your address at the post office,
Donnelly has it on that computer. Within 30 days of changing your
address with a major magazine, Donnelly has that too. So if you are
trying to get away from creditors, they know where you are in many cases
within 60 days.
With all these marvelous ways to find people right up to 30 days ago,
which one could consider invasion of privacy, and NYS selling the info
from our current driver's license for junk mail, the Health Dept
protections laws seem somewhat archaic. Most of what are on those vital
records pretty much shows up in the newspapers except the mother's maiden
Right now there are numerous churches (and a list waiting) in upstate NY
who are allowing copies to be made of their records and volunteers are
putting them in a database. With the completion of these records, that
will also overcome the need for those vital records for genealogical
purposes and NYS will not see the revenue they might have. When they
catch on, it might be too late.
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