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

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


(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: 144458
  • 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 Tuesday, 22 August 2017