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Keeping Watch Over Massachusetts Public Records

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The Value of Open Public Records Sponsored by the Massachusetts Genealogical Council and the Boston Public Library 6-7:30 pm Monday November 9, 2015 Commonwealth Salon, Boston Public Library, Copley Square The program is free, registration is not required. Attendees are encouraged to express their opinions and concerns in this open forum for discussion. Sharon Sergeant, MGC Vice President, will moderate a multidisciplinary panel of experts and attendees to discuss how open public records benefit our society and citizens in practical applications today. Massachusetts was an early adopter of open public records:From the Body of Liberties, Approved by the Massachusetts Bay Colony General Court in 1639 and published in 1641. We will discuss how open public records benefit our society and citizens, ensuring that all laws and regulations are followed to protect civil rights, inheritance and property rights, historical and medical research advancement, records preservation and access as well as the repatriation...
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Tuesday, December 17th 12:00-1:30pm Massachusetts State House, Room 442 The Massachusetts State Library, located at the Massachusetts State House, holds a monthly Brown Bag Lunch. The attendees tend to be from the Massachusetts Legislature and other offices in the State House, probably more aides and administrative staff than legislators.  The Massachusetts Genealogical Council (MGC) will present "Learning About Your Family History" at a Brown Bag Lunch on December 17th. MGC was founded in 1980 and is the umbrella organization representing Massachusetts genealogists, historical societies, and individuals concerned about records preservation and free and unfettered access to civil records. MGC serves as the records access watchdog and provides a reality check for the Massachusetts legislature regarding access issues. Thanks in large part to efforts by MGC, Massachusets is one of very few states where the public is still able to access all vital records. MGC President Mary Ellen Grogan says, "We want...
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MGC Civil Records Co-Director Mary Ellen Grogan is our watchdog for bills in the Massachusetts legislature on Beacon Hill. She summarizes the situation here. The Massachusetts Genealogical Council monitors legislative and administrative activities of governmental agencies which affect genealogists and family history researchers. We sponsor and support legislation designed to expand the resources and accessibility of research services; and, where appropriate, we oppose laws and regulations which limit or close access to records. In the last ten years, significant efforts have been made on both state and federal levels to close records that have been traditionally used by genealogists. The impetus behind these efforts is not completely clear, but arguments center on issues of privacy. In most cases, closure of records to genealogists is not the result of actual legislation but of local regulations and the interpretation of these issues by records custodians. HIPAA, the Patriot Act, and identity theft have...
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