Date: 6/25/01 10:19AM
I have received your letter in which you complained that the Cayuga County Clerk's Office is not
permitting you to review marriage records for the period of 1908 to 1935, and that you would be
charged $11 per document.
To the best of my knowledge, outside of New York City, county clerks do not perform duties in
relation to the issuance or maintenance of marriage licenses. Under the Domestic Relations Law,
section 19, town and city clerks issue and have custody of marriage licenses. I note that the cited
provision states in part that: "Whenever an application is made for a search of such records the
city or town clerk, excepting the city clerk of the city of new york, may make such search and
furnish a certificate of the result to the applicant upon the payment of a fee of five dollars for a
search of one year and a further fee of one dollar for the second year for which such search is
requested and fifty cents for each additional year thereafter, which fees shall be paid in advance
of such search."
The other repository of marriage records is the State Department of Health.
It is suggested that you might contact the Office of the County Clerk and inquire as to the
statutory basis for the fee, as well as the means by which that office acquired custody of the
records in question.
For a review of the law regarding access to marriage records, you might want to review an
opinion available on our website, which has received the concurrence of the State Department of
Health. In the index to opinions rendered under the Freedom of Information Law, you can go to
"marriage records", and the opinion is number 10608-A.
I hope that I have been of assistance.
Robert J. Freeman
NYS Committee on Open Government
41 State Street
Albany, NY 12231
(518) 474-2518 - Phone
(518) 474-1927 - Fax
Website - www.dos.ny.gov/coog/coogwww.html