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Keeping Watch Over Massachusetts Public Records

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MGC Supports HB3043 - An Act Relative to Records Open to Public Inspection

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MGC supports legislation designed to expand the resources and accessibility of materials used in historical research, but it is much more frequent to encounter legislation that blocks public access, hence we often find ourselves in battle mode.

It is always a pleasure to be able to support rather than oppose a bill, for so many reasons. First, it is just a more positive activity. Much more importantly, we become allies in the legislative process, rather than foes. And isn't it preferable to work with legislators than against them? If we are supporters then our influence seems much more natural, we come across as the experts we are, and we gather respect rather than disdain.

So it is with great delight that MGC announces support of Massachusetts House Bill 3043 - An Act Relative to Records Open to Public Inspection. Our Massachusetts Civil Records Director, Mary Ellen Grogan, constantly monitors bills proposed at the Massachusetts State House on Beacon Hill. Thanks to Mary Ellen's diligent efforts, we are today sending out the following information to all of the members of the Joint Committee on State Administration and Regulatory Oversight.


MGC strongly supports HB3043 which is currently before the Committee. The bill concerns access to records in the custody of the Secretary of State of Massachusetts. In practice, this refers to materials held by the State Archives. This bill clarifies some questions that have been raised concerning access to old records held at the State Archives. The bill simply confirms that “all records in the custody of the state secretary which are ninety years old or older will be open for public inspection”. This is a reasonable standard for access to information. More recent records are open for inspection with certain defined limits (MGL chapter 4, section 7).  HB3043 will require no additional cost to implement. In fact, it will free staff time at the State Archives to address issues of access to more recent documents of interest to government agencies and the press. It will permit them to be more productive and effective in their work. 


We strongly urge the members of the Joint Committee to report HB3043 favorably; the bill ought to pass. Our members are in favor of this bill and will actively support its passage. 

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Polly FitzGerald Kimmitt is a Board-certified genealogist specializing in Massachusetts research. She has been taking clients for sixteen years and researches a variety of topics from Mayflower lineages to locating townlands of Irish immigrants. She is a case worker under contract to the US Army on repatriation cases, helping to locate family members of servicemen missing or killed in previous conflicts. She currently serves as a director at Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS), and editor of the FGS Voice Newsletter, and is past president of MGC. You can read her personal blog at http://pk-pollybog.blogspot.com.


  • Robert J. Bartlett
    Robert J. Bartlett Friday, 20 July 2012

    Keep up the great work.

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