If You Don’t Care About Genealogy, Skip This Post

If You Don’t Care About Genealogy, Skip This Post

2018-05-15T09:51:44+00:00October 30th, 2015|Legislative Alerts|42 Comments

If you do, sign here.

Did you know

    • you cannot obtain a death record in Oklahoma during the seventy-five years after a death unless you are the subject of the record, i.e., the deceased;[1]
    • entries are no longer added to the Social Security Death Index until three years after the death occurs;[2]
    • state vital records officers have a Model Act which, if passed in your state, will close access to birth record for 125 years, marriage records for 100 years, and death records for seventy-five years?[3]

Without records we have no research.

We are advising congress and our state legislatures that we need access to public records and that we vote. BCG is a participating member in the Records Preservation and Access Committee (RPAC).[4]  RPAC has crafted the Genealogists’ Declaration of Rights, a petition showing support for loosening recent restrictions on the SSDI and other public records. The goal is 10,000 signatures by the end of 2015, and we’re 90% there.

You can help! Sign the Genealogists’ Declaration of Rights. Ask your societies to urge members to sign. The petition can be signed online. RPAC Chair Jan Alpert reports that petitions will be available to sign at the November 1st Genealogy Roadshow event at HistoryMiami Museum and November 7th at Ancestry Day in Raleigh, North Carolina.

It takes just a few minutes to read the declaration out loud at your local society meeting or seminar. Pass around a few signature pages (Word doc or PDF), and folks will willingly sign, knowing what the petition is all about. We must all make our voices heard on this critical matter.

We’re 90% there. You care, right? Join in the final push!

[1] 63 Okla.Stat. § 1-323.
[2] 42 U.S.C. §1306c.
[3] §26(c), “Model State Vital Statistics Act and … Regulations,” NAPHSIS (http://www.naphsis.org/Documents/FinalMODELLAWSeptember72011.pdf).
[4] Sponsoring members of RPAC include the National Genealogical Society, the Federation of Genealogical Societies, and the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies. Other participating members, in addition to BCG, are the Association of Professional Genealogists, the International Commission for the Accreditation of Professional Genealogists, the American Society of Genealogists, ProQuest, and Ancestry.com.


  1. Cindy Nelson October 30, 2015 at 10:18 am

    Please make all records available so that we can continue with our research. It is our family and we should have the right to obtain our records. Thank you!

  2. Linda St Clair October 30, 2015 at 10:42 am

    Researching family ties often results in looking at information that the family did not request or keep. Keeping these records open help us identify and find relatives.

  3. Scott W. Trent Jr. October 30, 2015 at 11:08 am

    THIS is part of the “control” of genealogy by those who wish to either make MONEY off of it, or who live in FEAR of what the record(s) will allow some so-called “terrorists” to do with the record…. either way IT IS SHAMEFUL action!!!!!

  4. Cara Connor October 30, 2015 at 11:35 am

    This is insane – especially in light of the HUGE interest in genealogy that has continued to steadily expand over the last several decades. Look at how much Ancestry (online) and other sites such as Find a Grave have grown. Having worked at a small city’s history museum and the number of people who come in, seeking the local cemeteries and if we have ANY information in the museum on their families, this is an outrage…

  5. Judy Kellar Fox October 30, 2015 at 11:49 am

    SpringBoard hears your outrage. Please email it to your state and federal representatives, too.

  6. Leona October 30, 2015 at 12:17 pm

    History and family values are supported by genealogy please keep records open!

  7. Walter Green October 30, 2015 at 1:20 pm

    The Society of Descendants of Militia Officers supports open access to public records, except when absolutely necessary to protect national security, for the privacy of the living, or for the demonstrated prevention of crime. Our tax dollars support the collection and maintenance of vital and historical records, and we therefore, absent a compelling governmental interest, have a right to access those records. Closing access to records of people who are deceased for excessive periods of time disadvantages the living in a variety of ways and may pose a threat to life and health in the case of hereditary propensity to disease.

  8. Diane O. Fleming October 30, 2015 at 1:50 pm

    It is difficult enough to find family records. Please Maake them accessible to those of us interested enough to search for them.

  9. Jean L. Davis October 30, 2015 at 1:57 pm

    Keep them open.

  10. Lorraine McCully October 30, 2015 at 2:16 pm

    All record should be open for genealogy research – this is one avenue to help keep the families involved.

  11. Pat Tostevin October 30, 2015 at 2:32 pm

    These are public records and the public should have access to them! They are important not only for genealogical purposes but as a basis for searches on family legal matters, locating missing family, matters of inheritance and so many other things related to personal business transactions. Births, marriages, deaths, etc. need to be recorded by law, therefore, access to those records is a right of citizenship and should be available at the time of recording.

  12. Annie Stratton October 30, 2015 at 5:42 pm

    Folks, before you post here, click on the link that takes you to the petition. That is where your objections count. Also contact your state and Congressional representatives. I think I signed this thing twice, but that’ll be sorted out, and it’s better than just complaining where everybody agrees already!

    I have a personal interest in this. When my brother died, his new wife (she disappeared the day after the accidental death), instead of calling us, just made up information for the death certificate. In the state in which he died, only next-to-kin could access death records, and had to supply the exact information in order to get a copy. Well, she not only had assumed his first name was a nickname, and so supplied what she thought was his “real name” (could have been several names), made up a middle initial, couldn’t remember his birthdate so she guessed at it, and had no clue what his parents’ names were (did I mention she was a bit of a bimbo?). We heard about his death in a round-about way, and couldn’t even find out where the body was. I contacted the head clerk in the county office where he died, got lucky and got the head clerk, and gave her a complete and thorough physical description of my brother- so thorough that she readily agreed that it was my brother (I had medical details). Somehow she managed to get the salient info changed in the records so we could pursue the matter. It still took two years to find where his remains were located. NOBODY should have to go through this. Had the records been open, we could have demonstrated easily in the beginning that this was our brother.

    Our society is made up of families and communities, not of bureaucracies. Communities are made up of relationships and contracts between people which are recorded as part of the keeping of the community. They belong TO the community. I understand that many of those wanting to restrict records think they are protecting us. But the fact is that the thing they think they are protecting us from- identity theft- is made simpler by the restriction of records, by hiding records from people who have a legitimate right to see them. Identity theft in this day and age is more likely to take place through breaches on supposedly personal financial information, not on public vital records. Public vital records can, in fact, protect us, and bureaucracies are meant to serve us.

  13. LaVonne Hallberg October 31, 2015 at 5:13 am

    It is vital that records be more open and not locked up. My friend’s daughter just found her father thru records. He did not know he had a child. This was all done thru Ancestry and DNA research.

  14. Gladys C Garcia October 31, 2015 at 5:25 am

    If you close access to the records that are currently available, my and your ancestors will probably be forever forgotten. Who will know them in 125 years? Give a purpose to their lives and their history. Keep them alive on paper as well as in our hearts.

  15. RODNEY CAULTON October 31, 2015 at 8:45 am

    That’s crazy, my great grandmother & grandfather are OKIES, I sincerely would like to obtain records. Please don’t do this. I would like to sign the petition.

  16. Fatima Schaab October 31, 2015 at 9:32 am

    See need access to public records. Let’s not go back to the dark ages.

  17. MdaryJo Halliday October 31, 2015 at 9:46 am

    We who research our roots should be able to obtain records if the person is deceased. Unless it conflicts with someone who is leaving and if they approve then should be available. If both are deceased then it is public record in which we should be able to obtain.

  18. Regina Null October 31, 2015 at 10:39 am

    Please keep the records opened, so people have the records available for research.

  19. Anne Maxwell October 31, 2015 at 12:06 pm

    I live in Oklahoma and have done genealogy here for over 40 years. My collection of birth and death certificates is quite extensive…have never had a problem getting a copy. All you have to do is fill out the application, check reason for requesting copy, sign, include fee and one form of ID. Says nothing about not being able to obtain a copy for genealogy!

  20. Sharon Bruton October 31, 2015 at 1:47 pm

    We need to keep moving forward. History of all kinds needs to be preserved and open to the public not hidden like a deep dark secret.

  21. Julia Avery October 31, 2015 at 3:33 pm

    Having access to death certificates is very important to those of use trying to trace medical issues that our ancestors had that get passed down to the younger generations. It also helps the ones younger than us to keep alive the stories of the ones that went before and all their hardships. That DOES make them feel like they do matter in this world. It’s more then a piece of paper. It’s our history.

  22. Judith Lavoie October 31, 2015 at 4:00 pm

    Having access to public records permitted me to research my family. Without birth, death, marriage certificates one cannot trace their family.

  23. Kathy McMahon October 31, 2015 at 4:30 pm

    “you cannot obtain a death record in Oklahoma during the seventy-five years after a death unless you are the subject of the record, i.e., the deceased”

    Whoever came up with that rule isn’t very intelligent.

    If ‘deceased’ people in Oklahoma ask for copies of their own death certificate, I think Oklahoma has a bigger problem to worry about than identity theft.

  24. Cynthia October 31, 2015 at 5:15 pm

    Please continue allowing searches for genealogy. The history of persons passed and living tells a beautiful story and opens family history making it possible to unite those from the past with ones in the present.

  25. Anita Drinnen October 31, 2015 at 6:57 pm

    Please keep the records open for genealogy research…

  26. David Barrett October 31, 2015 at 7:15 pm

    The library at the Irish Cultural Centre of New England supports any call for free and open access to vital records of any type for the purpose of genealogical research. We are against limiting access to records for time periods that effectively make these records unavailable. We understand that small administrative fees may be charged for handling and copying, however these fees should be kept to minimal charge.

  27. Joyce Morrell October 31, 2015 at 9:31 pm

    Seems a bit too long to be useful for genealogist. WE need access to vital records

  28. Sharon Fritz October 31, 2015 at 9:33 pm

    Please leave records open for family genealogy research.

  29. Barbara Leary October 31, 2015 at 10:30 pm

    I have been searching for my ancestors for several years. My family did not share a lot of information about relatives, and I have had to find out most of it on my own. Without records to research, I would not know anything at all. Luckily, there was a genealogist in my ancestral line, who opened up a branch of my family’s history I would otherwise have never known. Because of what she uncovered, I am able to continue the story. I feel it is my right to have access to these records, and it would be wrong to keep such records from anyone who is interested in knowing their ancestral story. Furthermore, it would be denying us our history.

  30. Barbara Wray November 1, 2015 at 6:39 am

    I don’t understand “why this new law is necessary.” What is so vital that it is not available for the public to see and view. I have found many relatives that I didn’t know I had. By tracking down these folks, I have made many connections which have brought much joy to my life and to these new found cousins, etc. We don’t need this new law.

  31. Carol A. Preece PhD November 1, 2015 at 9:29 am

    Records, official and unofficial, are the life blood of history. Without them gossip and anecdotal references can distort the human record. The concerns for privacy can be the subject of government action but not by actions that prevent both serious scholarship and personal interest of citizens. What do you think “Freedom of Information” acts are all about? It’s to prevent hiding government, corporate and other records in which the general population has an interest. This is reactionary thinking. Stop this movement.

  32. Carol Choquette November 1, 2015 at 10:29 am

    No Rhyme nor reason for it, they will make it so expensive, most of us won’t be able to afford it anyway.

  33. Dianne Nase November 1, 2015 at 6:54 pm

    Do not see any reason in the world for you to close records off to the public. These records need to be shared with families who are looking for history. Please do not close your records off to the public. Please do not pass this law.

  34. Genevieve Bettger November 1, 2015 at 9:12 pm

    It is so hard to deal with courthouses. Trying to obtain information for genealogy. I don’t understand why when the people are clearly dead. I think it is ridiculous! The information is about our families.

  35. Ruth Gadbois November 2, 2015 at 10:36 am

    Please do not implement any laws that will prevent us from researching our own families. LInks to the past are so important to our future.

  36. Maulene Sperko November 3, 2015 at 10:09 am

    These types of records saved my life and that of my sisters because we found that colon cancer was running in our father’s family. Another record has shown that the females on my husband’s side need to be alert for uterine cancer, so my daughter and granddaughters are now aware. There are some families that don’t talk about the past with their children or grandchildren, and finding records with health information is very important to the younger generations. PLEASE keep these records open. Opening them up sooner would be better.

  37. Rebecca French November 3, 2015 at 2:20 pm

    Please keep records open for genealogy.

  38. Christeen Simpson November 3, 2015 at 2:39 pm

    Please keep records open for us that our researching our ancestors.

  39. Cathy Zly November 3, 2015 at 8:58 pm

    Research can’t be done without access to the records.

  40. Jessica Taylor November 3, 2015 at 9:26 pm

    Please keep records open for genealogy.

  41. Sharon Gregory November 4, 2015 at 11:31 pm

    As a person researching public records for genealogy purposes, I have found in Tennessee, unless you are an immediate family member (parent, child, or sibling) you are denied access to birth and death certificates.

    All public records need to be available to the public. For the disabled that cannot get to the archives, these also need to be made available on-line.

    Please keep public records public.

  42. […] If You Don’t Care About Genealogy, Skip This Post by Judy Kellar Fox on BCG Springboard          AND […]

Comments are closed.