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

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


(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

Open Records and Freedom of Information Act

Posted by on in General Legislation
  • Font size: Larger Smaller
  • Hits: 85134
  • Subscribe to this entry
  • Print
Jan Meisels Allen, IAJGS Vice President and Chairperson of the IAJGS Public Records Access Monitoring Committee keeps MGC up-to-date on legislative developments. Here is a summary of her latest announcement.
State vital records laws that redact or restrict information can stymie genealogists.  A recent example is Virginia's law allowing only Virginia residents the right to access public records. According to the National Freedom of Information Coalition (NFOIC) there are eight states that have or have had similar provisions: Arkansas, Georgia, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania,  Tennessee,  and Virginia.  See:
Several groups and individuals are taking this provision to the U.S. Supreme Court. One person from Rhode Island and another from California are challenging the Virginia Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) provision on access for only Virginia citizens. Two Federal appellate courts have each ruled differently, which is why it is being appealed to the Supreme Court. A decision by the Supreme Court whether it will hear the case has not yet been rendered. 
The NFOIC has on its website a listing of the State Freedom of Information Laws, at
Some states no longer provide cause of death on death certificates--and this is tragic, as knowing our family medical history can save lives.  Keep an eye on the recent lawsuit in Indiana where an individual and a newspaper (the Evansville Courier Press) are suing the Vanderburgh County Health Department to obtain access to cause of death, stating that death records are public records, while the Health Department interprets the law to have cause of death restricted.  To read more go to:

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


  • No comments made yet. Be the first to submit a comment

Leave your comment

Guest Sunday, 26 March 2017