Using Article 78 to Get a Copy of a New York State Birth Certificate for Italian Dual Citizenship

The New York Department of Health will only issue certified birth certificates to a person named on the birth certificate i.e. the child or the parents.  My grandmother, born in 1912, passed away in 1997, long after both her parents. Since everyone on her birth certificate is dead, I need a court order to obtain a copy of this document for my Italian dual citizenship application.

Article 78 proceedings provide a mechanism for individuals to request copies of these vital records. The person named on the birth certificate must be dead. You must provide proof of death as well as proof you are related to the individual. If your parent or grandparent is still alive and won’t order a copy of their birth certificate for you, you are out of luck.

I used this step by step guide created by Samantha Genova  as well as the guide attorney Cheryl Forchilli shared with the Dual US-Italian Citizenship Facebook group. If you are going through the process, I highly recommend you look at both of these guides and search the FB group for ‘Article 78.’

Thanks to the non-profit Reclaim the Records which has worked so hard to make these records publicly available.

Where to File

The Article 78 Proceeding should be filed in the Supreme Court of the county which holds the record. This means you may file in the county in which your relative was born if you want to request a record from the town clerk or you can file in Albany, where the Department of Health which issues state records is located.

My grandmother was born in a very small town and I’m not sure the clerk would be familiar with how to handle this kind of request so I chose to file in Albany where they are used to this sort of thing.

Make sure the state has a copy of the record. Some people get all the way through the process only to learn the state doesn’t have a copy. You can search the New York State Birth Index up to 1942 on Ancestry with a paid membership or browse the index for free on Internet Archive.

Using Article 78 to Obtain Multiple Copies of a New York State Birth Certificate

If you need multiple copies, ask for them in your petition. You don’t need to name other family members as petitioners or give an explanation. I adjusted the language in the petition template to say

‘… to deliver to Petitioner six long-form, certified signed and sealed copies of the (a) birth certificate for Petitioner’s grandmother…’

I don’t know yet if it will work but hope I can save some of my family members from spending $400 for a single document. People in the FB group have reported mixed results. Some received court orders allowing them only one document. Others were sent only one copy despite a court order for more.

Include a Return Date!

The return date is the date you are asking the court to review your request. It must be at least 3 Fridays in the future. I’d suggest adding an extra week or two to be safe.

I filed my petition, request for judicial intervention (RJI), and exhibits on 9/12. I received an index number the next day. I added the index number to my notice of petition and uploaded that a week later (after a clerk reminded me!).

Both my notice of petition and RJI were returned due to a missing return date. The notice of petition template I used simply said ‘at the court’s earliest convenience.’ Some people have had their paperwork processed using that language but mine was flagged, perhaps because I did not include a return date at all on the RJI.

I changed my notice of petition to say ‘on 14 October 2022 or at the court’s earliest availability.’

Correcting Your Petition

While correcting my RJI and Notice of Petition, I noticed that my petition hadn’t scanned correctly – a post it note on the first page obscured some text. To file an amended petition, log into your NYSCEF account and navigate to your Document List. Click File Document to this Case. Select ‘Documents not related to a motion/petition/OSC under the Non-Motion Documents section. You should find ‘Petition (Amended)’ in the drop down list.

Pending vs Processed

After re-submitting those three documents, I noticed that while my amended Petition was processed, both the RJI and Notice of Petition were still stuck in ‘pending’ mode. According to the NYSCEF Resource Center, a ‘pending’ document has been received and is under review.

After several days of waiting for pending to change to processed, I contacted the Albany Supreme Court to ask if I was supposed to do something. Their number is 518-285-8989. I learned that these documents would be ‘pending’ until my case was reviewed on my return date of 14 October 2022. The clerk gave me the all clear to serve both the Commissioner of the Department of Health and the Attorney General.

On another note, I found it a little confusing to figure out who to contact with questions. Every time I view my case, I see contact info for the county clerk. I was using those phone numbers and email addresses without much luck until someone in that office redirected me to the Supreme Court.

Serving Notice from outside New York via USPS

Service must be made by someone who is not a party to the case. My husband mailed my documents for me via USPS certified mail.

We ran into a major snag at the post office when trying to serve the Attorney General. On their website, the address is simply

Office of the Attorney General
The Capitol
Albany, NY 12224-0341

My local post office would not accept this address. Their address verification system demanded a street address because I was sending via certified mail. I couldn’t find one online and called the Attorney General’s office. They told me to use

Office of the Attorney General
#1 The State Capitol
Albany, NY 12224-0341

My post office didn’t like this either but a different clerk allowed me to override the validation and send anyway.

That’s as far as I’ve gotten in this process so far. Hopefully in a few weeks I will have another update!

Evaluating Text Expanders for Genealogy Source Citations

Writing source citations can be time consuming. While it’s dangerous to rely on templates for source citations, being able to type a few letters and have a basic template for a frequently used collection simplifies the process.

Text expanders are tools which allow the user to enter a keyboard shortcut and insert a larger block of text. A few months ago I decided to look for a text expander I could use with Microsoft Word. My requirements were simple:

  • Easy to add citation templates.
  • Formatting options such as italics
  • Not subscription based

My preference was for an expander which prompted me to complete a small form using variable data rather than a template where I had to type over labels like First Name, Last Name, Title, etc.

Text Expander MicroReviews


A great tool with everything I need, but $40/year.

Open source, cross-platform. Formatting not supported yet. Interesting project, but not for this purpose.

Open source, Windows. No variable data or rich text options.


Microsoft and Mac, $4.99. Has variable text options and formatting but it is painful to set up source citation templates. Adding a template with variable options requires a lot of unavoidable pointing and clicking. If I could cut and paste or upload a CSV file, I would seriously consider this.


Windows. Requires using % for variables and formatting which makes entering templates tedious. Formatting is not consistent. Saved changes do not persist.

Auto Text Expander:

Windows. Easiest to use but does not seem to be available anymore. The link to buy is broken and a Facebook review from 2018 suggests the company no longer responds to messages.


Windows. Great documentation, only $19. Text expansion is just one feature. Entering citation templates is not easy but not too bad. Includes variable text and rich text formatting options. This came with a lot of presets I had to disable.

In the end, none of these solutions satisfied me. There’s a reason many tools don’t support formatting. Developers have to stay on top of the latest Office  updates. The $40/year cost of TextExpander seems more reasonable in this context.

Entering citation templates was an extremely tedious process in most of these tools. I worried I would need to do it more than once if there was some kind of breaking update.