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Keeping Watch Over Massachusetts Public Records

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Update from Public Records Access Monitoring Committee of IAJGS

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Jan Meisels Allen of the International Association of Jewish Genealogy Societies, and member of the Records Preservation Access Committee (RPAC) keeps abreast of developments that interest anyone concerned with access to public records. She sent out this update and we thought we should republish, with Jan's permission, of course.
The US Congress is starting on their "summer vacation" and your elected US Senator and Congressperson will be home.  Getting to know your elected representative is very important--and if you are concerned about continued records access including the Social Security Death Index and that genealogists are NOT the cause of identity theft, there is no better time to make an appointment to meet with your representative and their staff.  2012 is an election year--the entire House of Representatives and 1/3 of the US Senate -- your society is made up of their constituents -- use this time wisely to get to know your elected officials and they to get to know you and your society!
The issue of identity theft and the Death Master File, also known under the commercial version, Social Security Death Index (SSDI)  has been discussed on this forum previously- with 4 bills having been introduced late last year: HR 3475 (Johnson R-TX); S 1534 (Nelson, D-FL),
HR 3482 (Castor D-FL) and HR 3215 (Castor-D-FL and Nugent R-FL).  On July 26, 2012 two more bills were introduced, interestingly by some of the same authors of the bills already introduced:

 S 3432 (Nelson D-FL, co-sponsored by Senator Tom Coburn R-OK)  click on:
 or see original url:

 and HR 6205 (Nugent -R-FL) click on:
 or see original url:

Both of these new bills contain provisions for "certification" and a waiting period of 2 years. This is similar to the bills both authors also introduced in 2011 [S 1534 and H 3215] . The reason for introducing similar bills in 2012 as in 2011 may be as simple as the first bills did not receive a hearing and they wanted the bills to be on the "radar" of the committees they have been assigned.  As IAJGS learns more about these bills information about any potential hearing or other information will be posted to this forum.

IAJGS submitted statements on their position to earlier hearings on the issue of identity theft and the Death Master File/SSDI  --the hearings were not on specific bills, and their statements may be viewed at the Legislative Alert that is posted to their website at 

While this alert was updated in late May it is still valid regarding the issue of SSDI/Death Master File.  An updated Legislative Alert will be forthcoming shortly and when it is updated it will be announced on this forum.

Jan Meisels Allen
IAJGS Vice President
Chairperson, IAJGS Public Records Access Monitoring Committee

I want to thank Jan for her timely updates and informed communications directed towards the genealogical community.

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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


  • Barbara Mathews
    Barbara Mathews Monday, 06 August 2012

    Thank you, Jan, for a great update! I hadn't thought that we could find our representatives and senators at home. This is useful news.

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