Recent Blog Posts

bpl postcard
The Value of Open Public Records
Records and Repositories
Rate this blog entry:
10849762 815727755140585 6825543623968073505 n
MGC's NERGC Panel on Open Records: Citizens Can Make a Difference
General Legislation
Rate this blog entry:
How many deaths before the SSDI gets updated again?
Legislation Federal
Rate this blog entry:

MGC Blog Tag Cloud

Records Access Rep. Michael Capuano (MA) land records NERGC New Jersey Rhode Island legislation fraud outreach identity fraud Health pedigree NEHGS Harold Henderson legislation Jacobson v Massachusetts DMF records access access Oklahoma HR 295 Instruction HR6205 Donna Holt Siemiatoski Annual Meeting State House threats to access Vendors Richard McCoy Annual Seminar Presidential Citation Judy Russell Tax Fraud FGS legislators HR3475 humane HR3475 Billie Fogarty IRS DPH Elections Presenters blog volunteers Ancestry Massachusetts FGS Conference Rep. Richard Nugent (FL) smallpox RPAC civil records IGS Vital Records S3432 FGS 2014 Seminar pensions ISJGS Bruce Cohen Public Records Jan Alpert Free Open Access Advocacy S1534 Legal Genealogist introduction Stan Nyberg NAPHSIS closures Transparency communication Barbara Mathews DMF; SSDI; Tax Fraud; legislation Federal Alvie Davidson records access Teresa Scott online registration Kenneth Ryesky Genealogy FOIA MGC Advocacy budget cuts 2012 Seminar Richard Nugent Ethnicity Legislative Arkansas State legislation legislation public access Sharon Sergeant DMF Melinde Byrne S-1534 War of 1812 Michael J. Astrue Georgia Archives Registration medical pedigree Randy Seaver TIGTA audit David Rencher Henning Jacobson inheritable disease seminar SSDI Society Showcase Delaware Linda McCleary HR295 Pennsylvania APG Newsletter Tennessee Identity Theft Civil Records Death Master File State Library Arkansas Sponsors Virginia Education Tennessee funding mail forwarding Alfred DeMaria State archives Georgia New Hampshire 2012 Annual Meeting and Seminar Congress Jan Meisels Allen Mary Ellen Grogran Records Access budget threats to access RPAC FamilySearch Programs New Hampshire Fred Moss Virginia Georgia APG Roundtable medical profile Speakers family medical history open access IAJGS health history Annual Seminar Public Records Congress diagnosis archives SSA IAJGS Senate Access NGS Social Security Administration award NFOIC Rep. Sam Johnson (TX) sysoon Lou Szucs Helen Shaw family traits records access SSA volunteerism Massachusetts Jan Meisels Allen Lame Duck SSDI Thomas MacEntee Kate Auspitz


(Online donations available
after website update in 2016.)
MGC has been recognized as tax-exempt under Internal Revenue Code 501(c)(3). Gifts of support are fully tax-deductible and donors will receive a written acknowledgement for tax purposes.

MGC Sentinel logo MGC Sentinel Logo

MGC Sentinel

Keeping Watch Over Massachusetts Public Records

  • Home
    Home This is where you can find all the blog posts throughout the site.
  • Categories
    Categories Displays a list of categories from this blog.
  • Tags
    Tags Displays a list of tags that have been used in the blog.
  • Bloggers
    Bloggers Search for your favorite blogger from this site.
  • Team Blogs
    Team Blogs Find your favorite team blogs here.
  • Login
    Login Login form

Create Your Health Pedigree Here!

Posted by on in Legislation Massachusetts
  • Font size: Larger Smaller
  • Hits: 57010
  • Subscribe to this entry
  • Print


When you visit your doctor do you have to fill out a lengthy family health history questionnaire? Physicians use these to diagnose and treat us because it helps them assess our risk factors for certain diseases. You can blow your doctor away by completing a family health pedigree and bringing it to your next appointment!

But what if you don't know your family members' exact cause of death or ages at death? Sometimes this information does not get passed down in families because it is too sad, or just too long ago. And frequently you'll hear a cause of death as "old age" or "broken heart." So what can you do if you want more exact details?

If you are lucky enough to live in Massachusetts you can pay a visit to the Registry of Vital Records and Statistics at Columbia Point in Dorchester, right off Route 93. Massachusetts death records up to the present day are open and accessible to the public for a fee, thanks in no small part to the dogged efforts of the Massachusetts Genealogical Council to keep them that way.

Massachusetts passed a law in 1639 requiring the town clerks to keep track of births, deaths, and marriages, and as a result we have the most complete vital records in the nation. MGC works hard to make sure that these records stay open, for so many reasons, health histories being one of them. 

Every state now records vital records, but many of them are closed. This closure is harmful because it prevents people from knowing their own health histories. Why not check your own state and see what the regulations are? If you don't like them you can make your voice heard. MGC has lots of experience and we are happy to help you.

In the meantime, click on the chart above, to open a fillable pdf document that you can fill out online, then save to your computer and print out. We hope this helps you and your doctors to keep you healthy.

Last modified on
Rate this blog entry:

Polly FitzGerald Kimmitt is a Board-certified genealogist specializing in Massachusetts research. She has been taking clients for sixteen years and researches a variety of topics from Mayflower lineages to locating townlands of Irish immigrants. She is a case worker under contract to the US Army on repatriation cases, helping to locate family members of servicemen missing or killed in previous conflicts. She currently serves as a director at Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS), and editor of the FGS Voice Newsletter, and is past president of MGC. You can read her personal blog at


  • Polly FitzGerald Kimmitt
    Polly FitzGerald Kimmitt Monday, 04 November 2013

    Hi Cindy,

    If you are not local, the best way to order a certificate is to write directly to the Registry of Vital Records and Statistics, 150 Mt. Vernon Street, Dorchester, MA 02125-3105. Provide name, date, location and type of vital record (birth/marriage/death), and any other identifying information you have, parents names, eg. And of course you should include a check for the service. It is not as expensive as Vital Check.

    You can send an email to the Registry directly at, or call them at (617) 740-2600 to enquire about procedures with ordering.

    If you are looking for a local researcher you can visit the New England Chapter of APG (Association of Professional Genealogists) at, where you can view profiles of local researchers who would love to fulfill your request!

    Another suggestion is to Google the Cambridge City Clerk, who would probably provide the certificate for a lesser charge. I think I need to make another blog post about this!

    Best, Polly

  • Guest
    Cindy Sunday, 03 November 2013

    A link to your "Create Your Health Pedigree Here" was shared on Facebook. Thank you so much. What a wonderful tool to use for gathering and organizing a critical part of our genealogy.

    Within your article you mentioned that Massachusetts Death records are free and accessible to the public for those who live in Massachusetts. I live in Florida and would like to get a copy of a death certificate for someone who passed in Cambridge. Is there a link online or a researcher you might recommend? The only thing I found was a link via Vital Check, at a cost of $50, which is ten times the cost for a Florida death certificate and way beyond my budget. Are there any other suggestions you might offer?

    I greatly appreciate any assistance you may give. I'm looking for the death record for Leonard Holt who died in December 1965 in Cambridge.

    Thank you so much,

Leave your comment

Guest Monday, 24 October 2016