New York Death Records and Death Index

It may surprise you to learn how often genealogists face this particular set of circumstances. They are aware of when their ancestor was born, when they may have married, when their children were born but they just can’t find out when they died.

There are a fair few instances where the only information missing is the death date which can be very frustrating. This is why knowing what death records may be available to you can be vital in your research.

It is important to note that one of the biggest issues in finding a death record can be looking in the wrong place. You may be surprised how often people miss records because they are looking in the wrong county and sometimes even the wrong state.

In this post we will be looking at New York state death records and indexes to try and help you find those elusive ancestors. So if you are confident that your ancestor likely died in the state of New York then read on and hopefully we can help you out.

About New York

It was in 1642 that the Dutch first arrived creating settlements along the Hudson River. Within two years the colony of New Amsterdam was created. Almost 40 years later the British took control of the area and rechristened the region New York.

This made New York state one of the original 13 colonies and on July 26th 1788 it became the 11th to ratify the U.S. constitution. New York City initially served as the first U.S. capital and George Washington himself was sworn in as the first president at Federal Hall on Wall Street.

Social Security Death Index 1935 – 2014

All American citizens, naturalized immigrants and resident aliens require a Social Security number for proof of identification and authorization to work. This number follows us throughout our life and when we die this nine digit code is very important.

The Social Security Death Index (SSDI) is a database of death records that was compiled from the United States Social Security Administration Death Master File. This was until 2014 when the rules changed and public access to the Death Master File had to take place through a certification program.

Those researching the deaths of ancestors in this state will likely find that most people who have died between 1936 and 2014 can be found on the Social Security Death Index. This does however only hold true if the person had a Social Security number when they died.

It is estimated that since 1973 the SSDI recorded 93% to 96% of the deaths of individuals aged 65 or over. The index was updated frequently and by June of 2011 there were 89,835,920 records available.

The index can be found on websites such as FamilySearch and and offers details such as:

  • Given name and surname (middle initial since the 1990s)
  • Date of birth
  • Month and year of death (Full date of death for accounts active after 2000)
  • Social Security number
  • State or territory Social Security number was issued
  • Last place of residence when alive including ZIP code

Click here to search Social Security Death Index 1935 – 2014

U.S. Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007

This is more or less an extension of the information you can find from the Social Security Death Index. It has been extracted from the SSDI records but features more details. It does not include all of the names found in the SSDI however but there are at least 49 million names included.

In this record you may find additional information such as:

  • Date and place of birth
  • Parents names if deceased would be over 75 when you are viewing the records (may be redacted if under 75)
  • Citizenship status
  • Gender
  • Sometimes race or ethnic group

Click here to search U.S. Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007

New York State Genealogical Research Death Index, 1957 to 1970

This is a fluid death index which will expand as the years pass. Located at the New York State health data website it shows a listing of all reported deaths between 1957 and up to 52 years ago. This means as of 2022 you can see indexed entries for deaths in 1970.

There are no images in this collection but you can filter your searches to help you locate the state file number of the deceased. This number can be used to order a copy of the person's death certificate which should hold interesting information.

Click here to search New York State Genealogical Research Death Index, 1957 to 1970

It should be noted that also has this same index and may be more user friendly in terms of searching. This does however require a paid membership

Click here to search New York State Death Records Index, 1957-1969 at

New York State Death Records Index, 1880-1956

This index from FamilySearch is free to use as long as you have a registered account with the website. It covers state recorded deaths prior to 1957 and also includes pre standardized state recording events. Prior to the beginning of mandatory state vital record recording events like births, marriage and deaths were reported on a county level.

There may not be a full accounting of all state deaths in this index but if your ancestor died in the state during this time period this is a good place to start to find a record of that. Some areas of the state are not included in this collection until after 1915.

Click here to search New York State Death Records Index, 1880-1956

It should be noted that this same index is again also found on but will require a paid membership to use. Click here to search for New York State Death Index, 1880-1956

New York Wills and Probate Records, 1659-1999

This collection which is found at covers almost 340 years of wills and probate records in the state. Reported at the county level not all of the probate records for the entire state will be available here but a large selection are.

If your ancestor will have left property that required probate actions their documents may be in this collection. It may tell you who they left their property to and potentially how they were related or connected to their heirs.

Click here to search New York Wills and Probate Records, 1659-1999

Death Records Indexes, Obituaries and Cemeteries by County

When researching deaths that predate standardized vital record keeping in a state it is always advisable to check out what is available at the county level. It was the county clerks who would have been reporting deaths in death registers in the latter part of the 1800s into the very early 1900s.

County Death Records Indexes, Obituaries and Cemeteries by County
  • See Erie County
  • See Thompkins County
  • See Dutchess County
  • See Monroe County
  • See Onondaga County
  • See Oneida County


There are plenty of death indexes, obituaries and burial records at the county level so make sure to check here when looking for older death events. New York state requires you to order copies of death certificates so you will not find them online. You can however use an index to find the correct certificate number to order.

Neil Edwards

Neil Edwards

Genealogist and family-tree research specialist

Neil was born in Shropshire, England surrounded by centuries of living history. His interest in the past has been a lifelong passion leading to undergraduate degrees in both Economic History & Geography and History & Politics.

This interest in history quickly translated to family history when he moved to the U.S. in 2010. It was here that he began working on his own family tree as well as that of his American wife. That research allowed him to gain a wealth of experience working with both U.S. and European genealogical documents and studying their best uses in researching family history.

Following 9 years of honing his genealogical research skills, Neil was proud to have earned a certificate in Genealogical Research from Boston University in late 2019. Neil also took part in the research process for a Duke University study into the families of 19th Century UK Members of Parliament.

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