Thursday, January 20, 2011

Follow Friday - PaHR-Access & Enduring Legacy Genealogy

I woke up Monday morning and as I was checking my Facebook and watching my boys play MarioKart I noticed that I had an email on FB from PaHR-Access, a group I subscribed to on Facebook.  What exactly is PaHR-Access?  It stands for People for Better Pennsylvania Historical Records Access.  Their mission is to get Pennsylvania legislators to change the law so that people can access Death Records that are more than 50 years old.

Their following on Facebook isn't large, but it should be.  For anyone researching genealogy and/or family history this is important legislation.  If you don't have ancestors from Pennsylvania you might not think that this legislation is important to your research, but you could be wrong.  What if you're researching a collateral line to try to circumvent a brick wall and discover that the family member died in Pennsylvania (or any other state that's tightening vital record access)?  

It’s also just nice to help out other researchers gain access to the records they need.  We’d want the same done for us.  Writing to legislators that you didn’t help to elect is also not futile.  Letting them know the desire and importance of these records to people outside their state is not weightless.  After all, when you pay for a vital record the state gets that money.

Michael McCormick and his admins (Brendan Cole VanOrmer, John Haji Demos, and Norm Drasher),  on the FB page have been doing a wonderful job keeping their Facebook community up to date on what is going on regarding this important legislation.  One of the most recent posts links to Senator Robbins' letter to the other PA Senators regarding co-sponsoring this legislation.  You can see a copy of the actual letter by clicking the logo above and going to PaHR's FB page and their post or by clicking here.

Michael McCormick also has a blog that goes into wonderful detail about achieving open access to these records (and more).  Check out his "Enduring Legacy Genealogy" blog.  You will not be disappointed!

And last, but not least PaHR-Access has a website designed by Tim Gruber and Dale Berger that lists links to other states that have some vital records online.  Many links take you back to, but they will take you directly to that state.  The site also explains what records are available for each state, time period covered, whether they are full or partial, and if they are extracts.  It's an excellent source of information even if your family isn't from Pennsylvania.

So at the very least check out some of the links above.  If you're on Facebook checkout their page and join.  Even better, contact Pennsylvania legislators and let them know how important this legislation is!  Check out their "Info" tab on Facebook for an easy link to Pennsylvania legislators so you can drop them a note in support of Senate Bill 683!