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

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


(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

Records Access Hot Topic at NGS 2013

Posted by on in General Legislation
  • Font size: Larger Smaller
  • Hits: 144261
  • Subscribe to this entry
  • Print



During the first day of the National Genealogy Society's 2013 conference, three events focused on records access.

Harold Henderson, CG, the luncheon speaker for the Association of Professional Genealogists discussed "It's Not Just the SSDI: How We Can Advocate for Genealogy While Still Practicing It." He painted a bleak picture, noting that we often are on the defensive in protecting records access. We need to "keep the toothpaste in the tube" by showing an interest broader than our personal families. Just as it's too hard to put toothpaste back in a tube, it is also too hard to get access to records that have already been closed to the public. Harold advised us to be involved in all levels of government action, from legislating bills to developing regulations.

Melinde Lutz Sanborn, CG, FASG, past vice president of MGC and current president of the American Society of Genealogists, titled her speech "Advocacy for Records Access." Melinde opened by discussing how the information on vital records is publicly known. We have some ways to go around records closure. As genealogists, Melinde reminded us that we have those newspapers, cemeteries, school records, high school yearbooks, and Facebook statuses to give us much of this information. From birthday parties to wedding notices to funeral notices, families make this information public.

She warned about "The Rule of 1" which means that the concerns or interests of one person lead to laws for us all. Records can be closed through law, regulations, or administrative restrictions. Her summary was to remind us that the greatest threat to records access is ignorance.

The Records Access and Preservation Committee took the afternoon's last lecture slot. The three voting members (Jan Miesels Allen, Jan Alpert, and Frederick E. Moss) presented "RPAC Strategies in a Changing Environment: Fraud Protection v. Access." They provided an overview of RPAC's function in the genealogical community as well as a slide show that teaches genealogists in individual states how to monitor their legislature. RPAC has been active in advocating for access in Oregon, Texas, and Connecticut this spring. In addition, current federal legislation involving the SSDI is undergoing hearings in Senate and House committees.

  • To download the slideshows and other RPAC documents, see the page on RPAC Publications here. There are two files that are PowerPoint presentations. Click on the links for the two following file names:
    • Open Access to Records: A Genealogical Perspective
    • Toolkit for State Liaisons–Jan Meisels Allen
  • To read a review the U.S. Senate Finance Committee hearing that touched on the SSDI, read the RPAC blog posting here.

RPAC activities for April and May are also discussed in a blog by this contributor for the Board for Certification of Genealogists. Please see the BCG SpringBoard posting here for details beyond the NGS presentation.

Photo courtesy of the Las Vegas News Bureau.

Last modified on
Rate this blog entry:
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


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

Leave your comment

Guest Friday, 23 June 2017