My father (1919-1984) married a woman (born in 1922) in 1943 and had a daughter on 6/18/44 whose name is unknown, prior to getting divorced and marrying my mother.

They were married for only a few years.

The marriage took place in NYC, same about the birthplace.

Me and my siblings (all from the 2nd marriage) are desperately looking for our half-sister.

The information we have is:

  • Marriage certificate containing my father and his prior spouse details and birth date
  • Birth record of my sister containing the date (no names)

I've tried searching their names on FamilySearch and Ancestry etc. and found no results.

Is this the right board to post names?

P.S. Both my father's and his bride's surnames are very distinct names, I'm sure it refines the search options, does it?

  • 2
    @Shimmy, you mustn't post any information -- such as your family name -- what would enable anyone reading this to identify the individual in question.
    – user104
    Commented Jun 20, 2013 at 8:35
  • 2
    I note that the question is tagged (jewish) although that is not mentioned in the body text. If your father was observant, it may be worthwhile trying to find the synagogue he attended because they may hold a record of the first marriage (and birth).
    – Fortiter
    Commented Jun 21, 2013 at 1:45
  • Thankyou for taking care not to include names of these people who were all born during the last 100 years. We have had some discussion about strategies for maintaining our privacy policy while remaining as helpful as possible at meta.genealogy.stackexchange.com/questions/1900/… Our finalized privacy policy is now part of the help center.
    – PolyGeo
    Commented Jan 18, 2015 at 8:16

3 Answers 3


Bad news: you very likely can't get access to a NYC birth certificate from someone who is not your parent from the 1943-1947 time period.

Good news: you can check the NYC birth index and confirm that a birth really did take place in that time period, get the exact date, get the borough (county), and get the certificate number. A borough will help narrow things down a lot for more searches. And an exact birth date combined with a given name will help you search other resources (i.e. the SSDI) to see if she's even still alive, but perhaps living under a new surname.

The NYC birth index is available on microfilm through 1965. It is not available online on Ancestry, MyHeritage, FamilySearch, or any of the usual places one might look. But non-transcribed scans of the microfilm are available at a little-known genealogy website called VitalSearch.

It's not free, but paying for a month of that website may be your best bet of seeing the microfilms, because your profile indicates you're in Israel, and FamilySearch (the non-profit wing of the Mormon/LDS Church) doesn't have libraries in Israel, although Beth Hatefutsoth might have access to some films.

I would also suggest you join a great Facebook group for Jewish genealogy called Tracing the Tribe. Make a new post there with all details. Maybe someone there will recognize the name via Jewish Geography.

Good luck!

  • That vitalsearch link sounds great. I plan on joining it, are you certain it's not a scam or something? Commented Jan 4, 2015 at 7:24
  • It's a really ugly, poorly laid out website, run by someone who clearly wants to remain anonymous and who seems to have registered the site through a front company in Nevada (probably to avoid legal issues, since most of those microfilms are under copyright) -- but it's totally worth it. :-)
    – Asparagirl
    Commented Jan 4, 2015 at 21:26
  • I posted the question on the Facebook group you recommended, and some of the members managed to find her birth record on that website! No first name tho, only a birth date, anyway a helpful piece of info. Thank you so much, helpful references indeed, question is still on haha... Commented Jan 5, 2015 at 11:31
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    Bounty awarded because of the VitalSearch recommendation, and also because that Facebook group is of great help. Please participate in the conversation there as well. Commented Jan 6, 2015 at 22:13

The first thing to do would be to try to find your father (and his then family) in the 1940 Census (possible here at Family Search or several other information providers). If his surname is very distinctive, you may not have too many candidates in NYC to consider.

If you are very fortunate and the daughter's birth was before, or in, 1939 that might be enough to give you her name.

You should also examine the details of their neighbours at that time. Do you recognise any names as people he stayed in contact with during his second life with your mother? Perhaps some of them (or their children) can help you.

Do you have the details of his marriage to your mother? He would have had to provide evidence confirming that he was free to marry. That could point you to details of the divorce.

A final word of caution: Your half sibling may not want to be found. Be sensitive to the fact that she may regard you as part of whatever "destroyed" her family.

  • Forgot to mention, I don't live in the USA, is this process possible from abroad? Can refer me to some helpful website? Commented Jun 20, 2013 at 8:09
  • We have no clue where he lived that time. We do have all the reasons to believe it was in NY though. Commented Jun 20, 2013 at 8:10
  • I have edited the answer to include a link to one (free) place to search but there are others. If your father did NOT "live his whole life" in New York, then your search may take a little longer.
    – Fortiter
    Commented Jun 20, 2013 at 11:00
  • 1
    Per the updates to the question, the date of the 1st marriage was 1943. Although finding the father in the 1940 census is not wasted, finding the 1st wife before her marriage, especially if she is with other family, will provide a lot of information for further searches in newspapers and other records. Hopefully the marriage record gave some identifying clues.
    – bgwiehle
    Commented Jul 20, 2014 at 19:46
  • I know her name, and fortunately it's a very distinct name. But I haven't manage to find her name anywhere in the contemporary world. I found some members with a similar family name and contacted them, they said they don't know her. Is there any official way to obtain a birth certificate of my father's daughter? Commented Jul 21, 2014 at 9:40

If your father lived in New York, there may be limits on how much information you have access to because of privacy restrictions. I think this is a case where you will be much better off hiring a professional to help you, especially since you live outside of the USA. There are several questions on this site about doing research in New York, and some on hiring a professional, which you can look at for ideas.

If you do want to hire a professional, you will need to have all your information in order, so you can present a summary of what you know and where that information comes from. Here are some things you can do to get ready:

  1. Make a list of all documents that you have collected, like the 1943 marriage certificate that you mentioned in your question. Put this list in chronological order.
  2. Make a timeline of all the information you have about your father, referring to your source list to show where that information came from.
  3. Write a biographical sketch of your father, including the information from the previous two steps.
  4. Make a summary of the searches you have tried so far which have been unsuccessful. Note where you searched, and how you searched (for example, write down what spellings of the surname you tried to look for).
  5. Make a To Do list of things you have not tried yet (ideas from other questions here).
  6. Write a short introduction of yourself, with some information that you want your half-sister to have, that the professional can give to your half-sister or her family.

In the bottom of my answer to the question Discovering descendants of 19th Century German immigrant to Australia who served in World War 2? there is a list of resources for people who want to trace the descendants of a particular person -- look for the links under Resources. There may be search techniques you have not tried in the how-to videos and guides.

You might also consider taking a DNA test and consulting with a genealogist experienced in DNA testing to help you in your search. You might be able to find matches that way, if there are descendants of your half-sister who are looking for others related to your father.

I agree with Fortiter's caution -- it is important to keep in mind that your half-sister and her family may not want to make contact with you.

Think about what would happen if someone contacted you out of the blue and claimed to be a relative. It might be easier for some people to be approached by a third party, someone whose reputation is known, and whose credentials could be checked, before making contact with you directly.

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