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Saturday, December 8, 2007

Doing Pennsylvania genealogy?

This might be of interest to you...

A grassroots organization called PaHR-Access (People for Better Pennsylvania Historical Records Access) has started a campaign to get the commonwealth's attention. The idea is that Pennsylvania lags far behind other states when it comes to ease of access to vital records, particularly death certificates. Check out what states like West Virginia and others are doing for good examples of what might be possible for Pennsylvania.

PaHR-Access is looking for help from genealogists, historians, professors and all types of researchers (both Pennsylvania residents and out of state) to encourage Pennsylvania to consider:


  • Allowing less-restricted access to pre-1957 death certificates (access added each year so that fifty-year-old records will be available)
  • Providing an online searchable index for these records
At this time post-1906 records require several pieces of information from the requester, including date and place of death (which is often unknown). The process also costs $9 and a good number of weeks to receive a reply, which as PaHR-Access calls it, is "counterintuitive and cumbersome" and includes "burdensome restrictions".

Interested in helping? If you are not a Pennsylvania resident, write a letter to the governor, sign a petition and mail it to the governor, or post a flyer to encourage easier access to Pennsylvania's vital records. If you are a Pennsylvania resident, you can also write to your state senator and state representative.

Contact Tim Gruber at timarg at rcn dot com for more information about PaHR-Access and what you can do to help.

For more information on similar concerns regarding New Jersey records, see my post entitled
Doing family history research in New Jersey? at 100 Years in America.

Thanks to Barbara of Our Carroll Family Genealogy for spreading the word about PaHR-Access.

2 comments:

barbara said...

Hi Lisa,
Thank you so much for spreading the word. We need all the help we can from genealogists,historians and everyone who is interested!
The spokesman of PA-HR Access, Tim Gruber, would be more than happy to answer any questions .
You don't even have to be a PA resident to participate. PA-HR Access also makes it easy on their website with sample letters that you can use for your correspondance.

A sincere Thank you for Lisa for publishing the news, Thanks to everyone who wishes to join us.

Janice said...

Lisa,

Pennsylvania is not the only state with a vital records problem. Since 911 the paranoia over identity has caused major issues in several states, often preventing family from obtaining documents that should be accessible to them.

Kudos to anyone who is working to provide access to records that should be public.

Janice

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