Genealogists’ Declaration of Rights — We Need Your Support!

With thanks to RPAC Chair, Jan Alpert.

The Genealogists’ Declaration of Rights is a statement advocating open access to federal, state, and local public records. The Declaration affirms America’s long history of open public records, which has been threatened the last few years over concerns about identity theft and privacy. The Declaration of Rights has been approved by the board of directors of the three sponsoring organizations of the Records Preservation and Access Committee (RPAC): The National Genealogical Society (NGS), the Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS), and the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies (IAJGS).

RPAC has worked with state and federal legislators as well as local public officials for more than twenty years in support of legislation and regulations that achieve a balance between access and privacy. The Declaration of Rights is a document RPAC plans to use in response to both state and federal legislation that would restrict access to public records. The Declaration will be presented to the appropriate legislative committee chairs or Executive Branch of government together with a specific statement about RPAC’s position on a proposed law or regulation.

In 2014 RPAC representatives had a booth at the major national conferences including NGS in May, IAJGS in July, and FGS in August where conference attendees could sign the Genealogists’ Declaration of Rights. RPAC also had the Declaration available for signatures at the Southern California Genealogical Jamboree in June. Approximately 1,000 signatures were obtained at these conferences. The Declaration is also available for online signature at As of 4 November 2014, over 4,000 signatures have been obtained. We need 10,000 signatures by the end of 2014 before the next state and federal legislative sessions begin! We Need YOU to sign the Genealogists’ Declaration of Rights!

Genealogical Societies are encouraged to include articles about the Declaration in its Blog or newsletter, obtain signatures at the monthly meetings, and obtain signatures at local, state and regional conferences. We encourage you to obtain original signatures of your members or conference participants including the date signed, signature, printed name, and city and state of residence.

Date    Signature       Printed First Name    Printed Surname        City          State


People may ask if they can sign for states in which their ancestors lived. The answer is NO because we are simultaneously promoting that “Genealogists Vote,” so we want the signatures based upon the state in which the signer resides and votes.

Because we compile signatures by state, a separate page needs to be set up for each state. Please scan each page of signatures and send a copy to Jan Alpert, the RPAC chair, since Jan is responsible for compiling signatures for the respective states. Be sure to include the name of the genealogical society or organization at the top of each signature page. State societies may want to keep the original signatures for use on legislative issues in your state. Upon receipt of scanned signature pages from a society, RPAC will send a “We Signed” sticker for the society website or blog.

A copy of the Genealogists’ Declaration of Rights and signature form can be found hereDeclaration of Rights with bold and hereDeclaration Signature Page on the RPAC Blog.  Check this Blog regularly for updates on legislation which may impact genealogists’ access to public records.

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