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ERC: Genealogy and Family History: Records

   Vital Records


Once the completely filled out death certificate is hand-delivered to the local registrar's office, the clerk there looks over the form to make sure it was filled out properly. If everything is in order, the death certificate is approved and an official stamp is place upon it. The registrar's office assigns a unique number to the certificate. The desired number of copies of the death certificate are ordered. Then, a burial-transit permit is filled out and approved. This will allow the burial to take place. Occasionally, the funeral director fills out the permit at the funeral home and brings it along with the death certificate to the local registrar for approval. Whichever the case, if all the forms are filled out properly, the death certificate and permit are approved and the burial-transit permit is returned to the funeral director. The director then calls up the cemetery where the person is to be buried, giving them all the pertinent information, which may be entered onto a form that the cemetery will use. Arrangements are made for the burial between the funeral director and the cemetery.

It must be pointed out that a burial cannot take place in New York State without a burial-transit permit accompanying the body for burial.

Here are three examples of burial-transit permits, two from 1945 (one issued in Kings County, the other on Long Island, in Nassau County), and another from 2005, issued in New York City. Note that two of the three permits have been filled out by hand. Even though the clarity of the images below is subpar due to the need to reduce its size, one can easily see how the spelling of the deceased's name can easily be misinterpreted and thus entered incorrectly into the cemetery records and subsequently into any searchable cemetery database. Similar errors could also have been made when the actual death certificate was filled out:


It is stated that the death certificate has been furnished to the Health Department as required by the Sanitary Code. It is also stated that "this permit must be handed to the Keeper of the Cemetery or Crematory by the Funeral Director charge of the funeral." Here the funeral parlor is named Kirschenbaum Bros., address: 345 Throop Avenue (Brooklyn, New York). The deceased is named and their age is given in years, months and days (if available). The permit then states when and where the deceased passed away, whether it be at home, in a hospital, or elsewhere. Here, the deceased passed away at Kings County Hospital in Brooklyn, New York. The body was then removed from either "home or chapel." The date of death (Oct. 14, 1945) is given here, though the date of burial is listed at the top of the document. As stated previously, the transit permit is given a number. The name of the Acting Assistant Registrar of Records is stamped at the bottom of the form.

Here, the death occurred in New York City at 10 East End Avenue, which happens to be a twenty-story building of co-ops by 79th St. and the East River. The name of the department where approval is sought for the transit permit is different from the one issuing the permits in Kings County. Here it is the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, and the name of this form is "Permit to Dispose of or Transport Human Remains." The date of "disposition" is not only written by hand on the form, but is stamped at the top left. The death certificate number is typed in the upper right. The name of the Medical Examiner is listed, as well as the method of disposal, i.e. interment, cremation, or "other." The place of disposition, i.e. the cemetery name (here erased per request) and county/state is listed. Ms. Hochberg passed away on 24 February 2005 and was buried three days later.

As part of the form, it is stated that "the certificate of death having been filed as required by the health code, and all laws and regulations governing the preparation and disposal of human remains having been complied with, permission is hereby requested to dispose of the remains as identified above." The funeral parlor is mentioned (here, Plaza Jewish Community Chapel at 630 Amsterdam Avenue in New York City.) Their state registration number is listed along with the name of the licensed funeral director (and his signature) and his license number. Then the name of the City Registrar is stamped at the bottom and the official raised seal is imprinted on the form. Thus, "permission is hereby granted to dispose of the remains as requested above."

The permit form seemed to change a bit periodically through the years; however, it also differed depending on where the death had occurred.
Here is another permit from 1945, but this one was issued in Nassau County, Long Island, New York.




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