Massachusetts pending legislation effecting access to vital records #general
jan meisels allen <janmallen@...>
Dear Jewish Genners,
I am writing to you as the chairperson of the IAJGS Public Records Access
and Monitoring Committee to inform you about pending legislation that you
may find of interest as they effect access to birth, marriage and death
records that you may wish to obtain for your research. Three bills in
Massachusetts, if passed, would adversely effect access to vital records.
They are H 3642, H 3643, and H 3644. There is also a bill, H-3448,
sponsored by the Massachusetts Genealogical Council (MGC) and the New
England Historical and Genealogical Society (NEHGS).
All four bills are being heard in the Committee on Public Health on October
19th at 10:00 AM in Room A1
Read below for information on each of the bills, If you have questions
about the hearings or the bills, you can contact your legislator.
For a list of representatives (and senators) by town go to:
To find your ward and precinct, fill in your address at:
If you have any questions, please contact me at jan@IAJGS.org
Jan Meisels Allen
IAJGS PRAMC Chairperson
1. Three bills -- H-3642, H-3643, and H-3644 sponsored by Thomas
O'Brien -- impose restricted access to the records, only allowing
public access to birth records before 1910 or marriage and death records
before 1950. These bills have little to no support in the genealogical
The full text of the H-3642 bill that imposes the restrictions on the
electronic database and index access, as well as issuance of
certified copies (those restrictions are detailed in the H-3643 bill
amendments to Chapter 46, Sections 2a and 13) may be found online:
H-3642: An Act to Establish an Electronic System of Vital Records.
The full text of the H-3643 bill that closes the post-1910 birth and
post-1950 marriage and death records (and the indices) to public access
may be found online:
H-3643: An Act Establishing Standards for Vital Records.
The full text of the H-3644 bill that explains fees, funding and regulation
extensions to the prior two bills (and refers to a
non-existent "Massachusetts Genealogical Society" instead of the
Massachusetts Genealogical Council) can be found online:
H-3644: An Act to Fund a System of Electronic Vital Records.
The full text of the existing law in Chapter 46 can be found online:
2. Background on H-3448:
Access to records is of extreme importance to genealogists. MGC and the New
England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS) are sponsoring House Bill
H-3448 sponsored by Stephen LeDuc, "An Act Relative to Birth, Marriage, and
The full text of the MGC sponsored bill that supports continued public
access to indices and vital records with "special certified" copies for
genealogists (not legal identification purposes) may be found online:
H-3448: An Act relative to Birth, Marriage, and Death Records
This bill provides for birth records up to 1925 and marriage and death
records through 1960 to be transferred to the Massachusetts Archives within
three years of January 1, 2007, with additional transfers occurring every
five years thereafter (currently the archives has records through 1915). All
records and indexes would remain open to public examination through the
present time. It also provides for a "special certified copy" of records for
research information, as opposed to legal purposes.