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Showing posts with label records access. Show all posts
Showing posts with label records access. Show all posts

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Lift the Genealogical Embargo!

Lynn Turner reads headlines the same way I do. The first question to be asked is always, "How will this affect genealogy?"

Maybe, just maybe Castro's resignation will create opportunities for FamilySearch to begin digitally capturing Cuban genealogical records. I can see the day (hopefully sooner than later) when Catholic parish registers, immigration records, and many other important records become available.

What does everyone else think? I imagine nothing will happen for a while, but am I crazy to think that this is the beginning of Cuban genealogy becoming more widely available?

Monday, January 28, 2008

Bringing the Dead Out of Hiding

Tim Gruber and his group People for Better Pennsylvania Historical Records Access—"PaHR-Access" to their friends—are trying to expand access to Pennsylvania's death records.

Gruber says he is working with legislators to have a bill introduced that would address the No. 1 problem, from a researcher’s standpoint: That there is no type of index available to the public in which to search. As a “closed records state,” Pennsylvania’s law says that only certain people can even request a copy of the certificate.

One of the main ways that the Division of Vital Records enforces this provision is to require quite a bit of information on the application for a death certificate — including such items as the date of death … which, of course, is frequently what a genealogist is trying to find out from the death certificate! [Link]
PaHR-Access wants genealogists and others to write or call state officials, but what it really, desperately needs is a new name. Something like "Pennsylvanians for Open Records Now," which would make its new acronym... Wait, no, that won't work.

Friday, July 06, 2007

A Sensible Policy

Steve Danko visited the New York State Archives and reports that, in that state, you can get death records only for people who are dead.

[T]o obtain marriage and death records for genealogy purposes, the record must be 50 years old and the persons named must be deceased.
So if you need the death record of someone who's still breathing, you're out of luck. I'm all for open access to vital records, but this seems like a sensible policy.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

And the Wall Came Tumbling Down

One genealogist has brought the British government to its knees. Guy Etchells requested access to a single 1911 census record for Bottesford in Leicestershire through a Freedom of Information request. His request was granted, and when Your Family Tree contacted The National Archives (TNA) with the news, they agreed to crack open the entire census ahead of the official 2012 release date.

Starting in January, TNA will offer a limited research service where the address of an individual in the 1911 Census is already known. There will be a non-refundable search charge of £45 (see

Meanwhile, TNA said it hopes to offer a searchable online service in early 2009, with key sensitive information withheld until 2012.
And Mr. Etchells isn't done yet.
Guy told us: “As you may imagine, I was elated with the decision. I now also have questions about the legality of restricting information of any census up to 1981...” [Link]

Friday, April 28, 2006

MSM Type Seeking Like-Minded Genealogists

If you felt your ears burning on Thursday, there's a simple explanation. A panel of news executives were griping at a conference in Seattle about diminished access to public records when someone brought up genealogy.

Kathleen Carroll, senior vice president and executive editor of The Associated Press, suggested partnering with genealogy experts, who rely heavily on public records laws to mine historical data.

"We don't talk to that group of people very well, and they could be very powerful allies," said Carroll, one of four executives who spoke on a freedom-of-information panel at the ASNE annual meeting. [Link]
So, if in the next few weeks an AP reporter starts throwing you "come hither" glances, you'll know why.

Friday, December 09, 2005

One Town Clerk's War on Terror

A Genealogue Exclusive [What's That?]
Sylvia Gould takes her job as town clerk of Hampden, Vermont, very seriously. So seriously, in fact, that she has restricted public access to vital records even before new federal requirements go into effect.

"I think it's my responsibility as a town official and an American to keep birth certificates out of the hands of terrorists," Gould says. "The president has made it clear that we are the first line of defense."

Hampden birth, death, and marriage records are now kept in a lead-lined vault below the town office, guarded 24 hours a day by an armed sheriff's deputy.

Some genealogists are dismayed by the new obstacles Gould has placed in their paths. Researchers now have to produce three pieces of identification and undergo biometric scanning before being admitted to the vault, and even then are only allowed access to records on which their own name appears.

"It's a damn shame," says lifelong Hampden resident and amateur genealogist Herb Bollman. "She won't let me see my parents' marriage record without bringing one of them along. Of course, they both died ten years ago. Sylvia went to the funerals."

But not all Hampden residents are concerned.

Local plumber Ahmed Hamid needed a copy of his daughter's birth certificate for her application to preschool, and found Gould's policies reassuring.

"A little inconvenience is a small price to pay for our nation's security," says Hamid. "Sure, the body cavity search was uncomfortable, but Mrs. Gould does it to everyone, right?"

Friday, September 23, 2005

Salvation and Exaltation After Death? Not Good Enough

From The Boston (Mass.) Globe:

State Supreme Court says adoptee has no right to know parents

September 22, 2005

PROVIDENCE, R.I. --The Rhode Island Supreme Court has rejected a Pennsylvania man's claim that his belief in Mormonism entitles him to have his adoption records opened.

Philip Sabatino, 34, of Erie, Pa., claimed in court records that according to his faith he "may be saved and exalted after death" if he meets certain requirements, including tracing his ancestry and fulfilling certain obligations to his blood relatives.

But the justices said confidentiality is important to the adoption process and the man did not show a need to know his parents' names.

The official court opinion did not say whether religious belief could be used as a justification in other cases. But the justices said in a footnote that they thought they could not open records for Mormons without doing it for others as well.


[Read the whole story]
God forbid that those damn Lutherans start asking questions. . .

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