Request for missing records from the New York State marriage index

Reclaim The Records filed this request with the New York State Department of Health of New York.
Est. Completion None
Fix Required


From: Reclaim The Records

To Whom It May Concern:

I am writing on behalf of the non-profit organization Reclaim The Records. In September 2017, our organization made a Freedom of Information request to your agency, asking for the New York State marriage index for the years 1881-2016. For reference, your office assigned that FOIL request the ID number 17-09-123-RAO.

As you undoubtedly know from our ongoing litigation with your agency, that request for the marriage index was partially fulfilled and partially denied: we were provided digital images of the index records only through the mid-1960's, and we currently have a pending Article 78 case in the Supreme Court of New York (Albany county) fighting for the release of the later records.

We are now writing to inform you of some previously-unknown problems with the portion of the records that your agency did agree to provide to us:

1) Digital scans of the first sixty microfiche sheets of the 1923 New York State marriage index were not included.

2) Digital scans of the first sixty microfiche sheets of the 1935 New York State marriage index were not included.

3) There were no "Grooms Index" records at all for the year 1944 -- just a Brides Index. Were all the NYS DOH Grooms Index microfiche sheets for 1944 destroyed? Or were they accidentally not scanned? Is there a backup database or other version or other format available anywhere? What about the microfiche copies at the various New York public libraries, or the Manhattan branch of the National Archives (NARA) -- could we copy those instead, if the official "vault copy" NYS DOH version is missing? And in any case, why were these missing records not mentioned in any of your previous responses to us?

4) The cheap USB hard drive that held all the files you sent us unfortunately died a tragically premature death, and began clicking and whirring but no longer being readable by our computer. Luckily, we had already copied over most of the images files (covering 1881-1952), but not the later ones. Please send us a new hard drive with the files from 1953 onwards. We will be happy to pay for the costs of the new hard drive, and also pay for shipping; estimates the cost of a 1 TB USB hard drive at about $44, but you might be able to even fit these few remaining records on a USB thumb drive which would be more like $20. You can also send all the files over to us by Dropbox or Google Drive or FTP or other means of electronic transfer, if you prefer.

Please let us know a timeline for when we can expect all of these missing records to be provided by your agency. A few weeks to copy (or re-copy) and send over the images would be reasonable, but anything longer than that would not be.

Looking forward to hearing your response shortly.

- Brooke Schreier Ganz
Founder and President of Reclaim The Records

From: Reclaim The Records

To whom it may concern:

This is a follow-up to our correspondence from earlier today. We misstated problem #3 -- it is the 1944 Brides Index whose images are missing entirely, not the 1944 Grooms Index. Sorry for the confusion. But either way, half of the state's marriage index records for 1944 are still missing.

- Brooke Schreier Ganz
Founder and President of Reclaim The Records

From: New York State Department of Health

Dear Ms. Ganz -

We have received your e-mails attached below, and are taking steps to correct the omissions you cited.

Because these records are images, not text, it may not be possible to fit the missing images on a thumb drive; therefore, a terabyte drive may be required. If you wish to expedite the process, you may provide us with terabyte drive of a quality of your choosing. Please send the terabyte drive directly to me at the following address:

Rosemarie Hewig, Esq.
Records Access Office
New York State Department of Health
Corning Tower, Rm 2364
Albany, NY 12237

If we find we are able to fit the remaining images on a thumb drive or another medium, we will do so and return your terabyte drive to you.

Sincerely -

Rosemarie Hewig, Esq.
Associate Counsel / Records Access Officer
NYS Department of Health
Division of Legal Affairs
Corning Tower
Albany NY 12237-0026