Friday, November 21, 2014

Preserving Right to Access Public Records

I recently received this important notice about preserving access to genealogical records and felt it was very important to share with all of you. The message is copied here below:
Genealogists’ Declaration of Rights

We Need Your Support!
Did you know that the Social Security Death Index is no longer accessible until three years after someone’s death?
Did you know that State Vital Records Officers have a Model Act which if passed in your state will close access to birth records for 125 years, marriage records for 100 years, and death records for 75 years?
We need to let Congress and our state legislatures know that genealogists need access to public records and GENEALOGISTS VOTE! You can help by signing the Genealogists’ Declaration of Rights and by asking your societies to encourage their members to sign the Declaration.
We obtained more than a 1,000 signatures at the national genealogical conferences this summer and almost 3,000 signatures online. We need 10,000 signatures before Congress and the state legislatures begin their next legislative sessions in January. We need YOU to sign the Declaration. Take five minutes and sign the Declaration in support of access to public records at
Genealogical Societies are encouraged to include articles about the Declaration in its Blog or newsletter, obtain signatures at the monthly meetings, and obtain signatures at local, state and regional conferences. Whenever genealogists are together obtain original signatures of your members or conference participants including the date signed, signature, printed name, and city and state of residence where they vote. Please use the downloadable PDF form at to gather this information.
Because we compile signatures by state, a separate page needs to be set up for each state. Please scan each page of signatures and send a copy to Jan Alpert, the RPAC chair, since Jan is responsible for compiling signatures for the respective states. Be sure to include the name of the genealogical society or organization at the top of each signature page. State societies may want to keep the original signatures for use on legislative issues in your state. Upon receipt of scanned signature pages from a society, RPAC will send a “We Signed” sticker for the society website or blog.
A copy of the Genealogists’ Declaration of Rights and signature form can also be found on the RPAC Blog at Check the Blog regularly for updates on legislation which may impact genealogists’ access to public records.
The Genealogists’ Declaration of Rights is a statement advocating open access to federal, state, and local public records. The Declaration affirms America’s long history of open public records, which has been threatened the last few years over concerns about identity theft and privacy. The Declaration of Rights has been approved by the board of directors of the three sponsoring organizations of the Records Preservation and Access Committee (RPAC): The National Genealogical Society (NGS), the Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS), and the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies (IAJGS). The Declaration will be presented to the appropriate legislative committee chairs or Executive Branch of government together with a specific statement about RPAC’s position on a proposed law or regulation.
The Records Preservation and Access Committee (RPAC) is a joint committee of the National Genealogical Society (NGS), the Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS), and the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies (IAJGS) as sponsoring members. The Association of Professional Genealogists (APG), the Board for Certification of Genealogists (BCG), the International Commission for the Accreditation of Professional Genealogists (ICAPGen), and the American Society of Genealogists (ASG) also serve as participating members. RPAC meets monthly to inform and advise the genealogical community on ensuring proper access to vital records and on supporting strong records preservation policies and practices at the federal, state, and occasionally the local level.

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