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MGC's NERGC Panel on Open Records: Citizens Can Make a Difference

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Please join us at our Panel on Open Records, to be held at 1:45 PM on Saturday, April 18th, in session S-324, at the New England Regional Genealogical Conference in Providence, Rhode Island.

Citizens can make an impact on our laws and regulations at several points in the legislative process:

  • By working to submit bills that meet our needs and interests.
  • By commenting on those bills as they go through the process of hearings and readings (votes).
  • By continuing to be involved as legislation is implemented through regulation.

Our panelists have insight on how citizens stay involved in government activities involving their interests. Please welcome Judy, Helen, and Teresa, all fresh from the trenches of advocating for access.

The Legal Genealogist, Judy G. Russell, JD, CG, CGL, is a genealogist with a law degree. She writes, teaches and lectures on a wide variety of genealogical topics, ranging from using court records in family history to understanding DNA testing. She is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Board for Certification of Genealogists, from which she holds credentials as a Certified Genealogist and Certified Genealogical Lecturer. Judy was involved early in the discussion about the value of the Social Security Death Index, rallying genealogists with her blog posts on the topic.

Helen A. Shaw, CG, is president of the Maine Genealogical Society and Maine’s liaison to the Records Preservation and Access Committee. She is an expert in cemetery and census research. Over the last three years, Helen has rallied Maine genealogists to speak out on behalf of their interests, submitting bills and watching them move through the Maine legislature. Now she advocates for genealogists as that law is implemented through regulations.

Teresa L. Scott, JD, a former Civil Rights attorney, has been conducting genealogical research on her own family for more than fifteen years and has helped others for more than five years. This research has taken her throughout New England, the Mid-Atlantic, and the Midwest from 1635 to the present day. Her role as MGC’s State Civil Records Director is to monitor legislative activity on Beacon Hill and to advocate for bills submitted on behalf of the Massachusetts Genealogical Council.

Moderator Barbara J. Mathews, CG, FASG, The Demanding Genealogist, is a lineage genealogist, genealogical lecturer and writer. She works for the Massachusetts Society of the National Society of The Colonial Dames of America and the Welles Family Association. Her role as MGC’s Federal Civil Records Director gives her an overview of law-making and rule-making at the federal level and in other New England states.

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Barbara serves as the Federal Records Director. She is a Board-certified genealogist who works for the Massachusetts Society of the Colonial Dames of America as a Verifying Genealogist and for the Welles Family Association as a Genealogist. Her volunteer service includes a stint as President of MGC. She holds a master’s degree in the management of non-profits from the Florence Heller School at Brandeis University. You can read her own blog, The Demanding Genealogist, at


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