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Newmark J-School Research Center
Hours FAQ Research Help

Backgrounding People & Companies

Vital Records

Vital records, like birth, death, marriage, divorce, etc., records are not available in NYS unless your name is on the document or you have a court order.

VitalChek can order vital records online from some states/counties, there is usually a fee.

People Finding Databases

People finding databases (j-school subscription)

After you have tried all the other available people finding tools, the Research Center can search Accurint for you, to help you find a contact or background a person for reporting. Make an appointment with one of us here, or email research@journalism.cuny.edu

People Finding Databases (free)

Apps for Finding Emails

Clip (News Article) Searching

Do a Google and Google News search: for a person: “firstname * lastname” (this will search for middle or maiden names or initials)

Social media searches

A  PIPL search [see people finding databases tab] will give you links to a person's social profiles on LI, FB, IN & TW. Use multiple points of info to triangulate and see if you have the correct individual. Check the place of residence, hometown, relatives, friends, employer. Photos & posts can also give you clues.

Here are some other social search sources:

These apps will help you find phones and emails:

Employment and Education

See apps to help you find emails and phones. They will all help you find work colleagues too.

Licenses and Professional Misconduct

Nonprofits and Companies

Use the Guide Nonprofit Organizations - research sources for reporters to identify nonprofits people are associated with.

Once you know if a person owns a business or their employer's name, you can use the backgrounding private or public companies to go deeper.

Civil and Criminal Court records research

Property Records

 In other counties across the country search property records with the county name or tax assessor's office. 

Influence - Campaign Finance and Lobbying