Saturday, January 2, 2010

Genealogists turning activists?

Have you considered how unfairly genealogists are being treated by those who are in possession of the records we need access to so badly? $20. to $30. for one record and being charged to even look at the records. Here's an organization seeking to change this situation.

Records Preservation and Access Committee

A joint committee of the Federation of Genealogical Societies & the National Genealogical Society

White Paper Executive Summary Updated

January 1st, 2010 FredMoss

White Paper Executive Summary

As of 1 Sep 2009, the Executive Summary of the RPAC White Paper entitled “Open Access to Public Records: A Genealogical Perspective” was updated to more accurately reflect the purposes for which the white paper was developed last Spring.

The full White Paper originally posted on 26 Feb 2009 has been updated to reflect this change.

The link immediately above is to a two page document containing the cover page and the updated Executive Summary.

Permission is granted for genealogical organizations to locally reproduce in its entirety the attached PDF version of the Executive Summary.

Here is an example of what is being done in order to facilitate access to records:

The Office of Open Records in Pennsylvania on a case brought by a
genealogist who brought suit through the Office of Open Records
against the Philadelphia Marriage Bureau for their charging $20-$30
per record, charging for looking at a record, preventing use of a
digital camera, and limiting the number of records one may request at
a time. The case was decided July 31, 2009, and the plaintiff won on
some points and lost on others–per the Office of Open Records the
Philadelphia Marriage Bureau may only charge $2.00 per page plus $2.00
for certification, the Registrar may not charge to view the
record, no digital camera may be used to copy the records, the City
conceded on the number of requests at one time. Currently the City
would only provide certified copies and used that as part of the
reason for their high charges. The City of Philadelphia has notified
the parties that they will appeal their loss of the case in both in
both the Common Pleas and Commonwealth Courts. While the case is being
appealed the decision is in limbo. To read the decision go to:

What kind of experiences have you encountered? Click here to comment.

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1 comment:

Palmsrv said...

The charge for a Social Security Application that went from $7 to $27 (instead of a gradual increase) still bothers me. I obtained two crucial files at $7 and can't bring myself to pay the $27 for additional files. (

On the flip side, I spent $1 per page for a probate file via U.S. mail several years ago from a southern IL clerk's office and paid $0.00 when I went in person to the same office and copied the needed files myself.