RPAC publishes White Paper–Open Access to Public Records: A Genealogical Perspective

Open Access to Public Records: A Genealogical Perspective

Download PDF from link immediately above

            In a post 9/11 world, the new millennium is faced with two significant social developments. First, the concern over the proliferation of personal information now made available and second, the need to legitimately identify a country’s citizens through official records that support that claim.


These seemingly competing issues present a significant challenge for local, state and federal lawmakers as they strive to ensure national security, combat terrorism and respond to the privacy needs of their electorate.  The genealogical community is in complete support of lawmakers protecting sensitive information from misuse by those perpetrating crimes of identity theft or other illicit activities.


            The Records Preservation and Access Committee (RPAC), a joint committee of the Federation of Genealogical Societies and the National Genealogical Society is leading the genealogical community to openly share perspectives on these vital issues and add their support to fostering education between lawmakers and genealogists. The committee believes that open communication between the nation’s genealogists and lawmakers can strike a reasonable balance between the public’s right to know while maintaining the lawmaker’s responsibility to its constituents. 


           This document is a project by the RPAC to provide information to lawmakers and those called to implement legislation about the genealogical community’s perspective of open access to records.

           We envision that this will be a living document. Updates and corrections are welcomed and should be submitted to access@fgs.org

This version has been approved by the Boards of Directors of the Federation of Genealogical Societies and the National Genealogical Society.  At the time of posting, it has also been endorsed by IAJGS. 


The Federation of Genealogical Societies is a nationwide umbrella organization of nearly 600 member societies representing the interests of over one million genealogists.  The National Genealogical Society represents the national interests of genealogy in the United States with a membership in excess of ten thousand.  The Records Preservation and Access Committee also includes representatives from the Association of Professional Genealogists, the Board for Certification of Genealogists, and the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies.


Permission is granted for genealogical organizations to locally reproduce in its entirety the attached PDF version of the White Paper.

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