Saturday, July 01, 2006

Massachusetts Prepares for Invaders

A Genealogue Exclusive [What's That?]
Massachusetts is bracing for an invasion late this summer. The "undesirables" are expected to arrive the last week of August, but Flatland Security chief Arnold Nesbit says there is no need for residents to panic.

"Not yet, at least."

As soon as the FGS/NEHGS conference in Boston was announced, the Commonwealth began devising measures to protect its history from the prying eyes of genealogists.

"Every cemetery in Massachusetts will be locked down," says Nesbit, gesturing toward a color-coded map of burial grounds. "We've set up hotlines in every town, city, and county office, and have authorized the use of deadly force. Anyone asking to see a marriage certificate better have the proper ID."

At the forefront of the Commonwealth's plan is a bill now before the legislature that would seal off vital records from public view for decades. A related bill would ban the celebration of birthdays in public places.

"Think about it," Nesbit urges. "A kid has a party at Chuck E. Cheese. Now, everybody in the place knows when her birthday is and how old she is. We can't risk having a genealogist stumble onto that kind of information."

As the government ramps up security, Nesbit cautions citizens not to overreact.

"We've had reports of vigilante activity. An innocent title searcher was mistaken for a genealogist and manhandled at the Springfield Registry of Deeds. And some guy was caught trying to chisel the date '1620' off of Plymouth Rock. We want to make two things clear: If you think you've sighted a genealogist, report it to the proper authorities. And remember, we don't want to destroy our history—we just want to hide it where no one can find it."

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