BillionGraves and The Federation of Genealogical Societies partner to image all cemetery markers for War of 1812 Participants

Press Release:  War of 1812 Grave Markers with Billion Graves – 1 July 2014

BillionGraves and The Federation of Genealogical Societies partner to image all cemetery markers for War of 1812 Participants

The Federation of Genealogical Societies also launches a major fundraising campaign for the Preserve the Pensions Project to honor the memory of these veterans in the month of July

• Effort will include national War of 1812 cemeteries
• Includes persons with individual markers in local and private cemeteries
• July is a great month to remember the participants of the
“Second Revolution” as well as the American Revolution
• The Federation seeks to raise an average of $1,812 each day of July!

AUSTIN, TX – 1 JULY 2014 The Federation of Genealogical Societies and cemetery website BillionGraves announced today a joint project to image all of the gravestone markers for participants of the War of 1812. “The images from these markers, coupled with the Federation’s current project to raise the funds to digitize the 7.2 million images of the pensions for those who participated in the War of 1812 are a natural fit,” said D. Joshua Taylor, President of FGS.

Hudson Gunn, President of BillionGraves said, “This July our focus is to see that the nation’s military headstones are documented and preserved for future generations. Headstones from early American history are quickly deteriorating, making it only a matter of time before they are lost forever. We are very pleased to have the Federation lend its help to spread this message for the War of 1812 veterans.” It is estimated that as many as 350,000 men may have served in the war. Although it is impossible to know how many may have cemetery markers, there could be as many as 50,000-80,000 markers for these veterans.

BillionGraves and The Federation of Genealogical Societies are asking anyone with knowledge of a cemetery marker for a War of 1812 veteran to upload the image of the marker to the BillionGraves website (www.billiongraves.com) using their free mobile application during the month of July to honor and remember the service of those who served in the “Second Revolution.”

If you upload an image for a War of 1812 veteran during the month of July or anytime thereafter, please let us know on Facebook or Twitter by using the hashtag #1812today and/or #warof1812 and/or #billiongraves. The Federation will also be posting the progress toward the fundraising goal of $1,812 per day on Facebook and Twitter, so check often and pass the word!

The efforts from these two organizations will provide a very valuable asset for researchers and historians researching 1812 veterans. With the Federation raising awareness of the project to digitize the War of 1812 pension records during the month of July and BillionGraves making the cemetery markers of War of 1812 veterans immediately searchable, it should be an exciting month for all genealogists and historians – everyone wins!

Those interested in preserving this valuable piece of America’s documented history can make a single contribution or become a monthly contributor of the Preserve the Pensions project. For more information, go to http://www.preservethepensions.org/ .

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RPAC & NAPHSIS at NGS Conference

National Genealogical Society Luncheon

Patricia W. Potrzebowski                                                                     

Patricia W. Potrzebowski

Vital Statistics Registrars and Genealogists: 

We Need to Talk!

 

S431, Saturday, 10 May 2014, at 12:15 p.m.

Patricia W. Potrzebowski, PhD, Executive Director of the National Association for Public Health Statistics and Information, will be the featured speaker at the National Genealogical Society luncheon. The title of her talk is “Vital Statistics Registrars and Genealogists: We Need to Talk!” NGS has selected this topic to emphasis the importance of access to vital records for genealogists. Ms. Potrzeboski’s talk will cover the following key points:

• What do state registrars of vital records and genealogists have in common?

• How can state registrars and genealogists work together more effectively to achieve mutual goals?

• Why privacy, confidentiality, and security of vital records matter to all of us.

Patricia W. Potrzebowski, Ph.D. has been the Executive Director of the National Association for Public Health Statistics and Information Systems since January, 2011.  Information about NAPHSIS can be found at http://www.naphsis.org.

Previously, Trish served as the Director, Bureau of Health Statistics and Research at the Pennsylvania Department of Health, where she worked for more than 35 years.

While there, Trish established the first designated State Center for Health Statistics in the nation, implemented an award winning statewide cancer incidence registry and immunization registry, and directed the state’s vital statistics system.  In 2001 she launched the Commonwealth Universal Research Enhancement (CURE) program with funds from the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement to provide clinical, biomedical, and health services research grants each year to universities, hospitals, and other research organizations located in Pennsylvania.

Trish earned her Ph.D. in human genetics from the Department of Biostatistics of the Graduate School of Public Health, University of Pittsburgh. She is a former President of NAPHSIS and received the Halbert L. Dunn Award in 1991 for her contributions to national and state health statistics systems.  Trish chaired the Panel to Evaluate the U.S. Standard Certificates that created the 2003 revised certificates, and was also a member of the 2011 Model Law Revision Work Group.

Luncheon tickets can be purchased for $32.00 at http://conference.ngsgenealogy.org/event-registration/ through 22 April 2014. Register now before the luncheon sells out.

Also mark your conference schedule to attend the Records Preservation and Access Committee session, Thursday, 8 May 2014, 4:00 p.m., “RPAC: Access to Vital Records is Under Attack! How Can You Help?”

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Connecticut — New Threat to Genealogists: Senate Bill 414 — Updated

With thanks to Dr. Robert L. Rafford, RPAC State Liaison for Connecticut:

SB414-Year2014_002 (2)

“Please forward this e-mail on to any genealogical or historical group or individual who might be affected by this legislation:

 

Senate Bill 414 poses an immediate threat to genealogists and comes before the Public Health Committee of the Connecticut General Assembly (CGA) tomorrow, Friday, March 14, at 10:30 a.m. at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford. I urge everyone to join me there at the hearing and, if you can, present testimony in person. If you cannot be there, you can still submit testimony which will become a part of the permanent record by sending your testimony to PHC.Testimony@cga.ct.gov. It need not be fancy – just let all members know that this is an outrageous assault on the rights of American citizens known as genealogists. Please also contact the members of the Public Health Committee; the membership list can be found at http://www.cga.ct.gov/asp/menu/MemberList.asp?comm_code=PH. Please also contact your local legislators. Tell them that you want them not to give a pass to this shocking and probably illegal proposal.

 

Here are the facts:
SB 414 is called AN ACT CONCERNING THE DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC HEALTH’S RECOMMENDATIONS CONCERNING GENEALOGISTS’ ACCESS TO VITAL RECORDS.

 

The current statute states that genealogists have access to “all vital records in the custody of any registrar of vital statistics, including certificates, ledgers, record books, card files, indexes and database printouts,  “during all normal business hours.” The proposed legislation would delete “during all normal business hours” and would add this sentence:

 

A registrar of vital statistics may grant a genealogist immediate access to such records or may require a genealogist to schedule an appointment to access such records, at the registrar’s discretion. A registrar requiring an appointment for access to such records shall schedule such appointment as soon as reasonably practicable.”

 

This legislation is wrong for these reasons:

1)    It would gut the existing provision regarding “normal business hours” access; that right was emphasized in the revised 1996 legislation (I was one of its authors) because registrars were unfairly treating genealogists as if our requests were “frivolous,” whereas the business of others was “serious.” It simply meant that genealogists were not second-class citizens and should be served on a first-come-first-served basis like everyone else.

 

2)    It would demand that all genealogists contact a town hall first because we would never know whether an appointment is necessary before research. If you have ever attempted to telephone a vital record office of a city in Connecticut, you know that this would make research a nightmare.

 

3)    It would allow all registrars the power to put off for days, weeks or longer any researcher wishing to legally access the public (death. marriage, land, and all other) records of our government until they deem it is “reasonably practicable.” While Connecticut spends millions of dollars trying to attract the tourist trade to our state, this would heartily discourage them from coming here, staying in hotels, eating in our restaurants, going to our attractions and researching in our libraries and especially town halls, as they do now for weeks at a time.

 

4)    The most egregious part of this legislation is that it would single out a particular class of American citizens, genealogists, whether acting from an avocation or conducting a business, for adverse treatment. This is legally impermissible. Others who regularly make records requests of registrars are attorneys, funeral directors, title searchers, real estate agents, heads of municipalities, soccer moms, veterans, medical researchers, officials from state and federal agencies and departments, police departments, adoption agencies, statisticians, newspaper reporters, authors, biographers and other members of the general public. Not one of these groups would be adversely affected by this legislation – just genealogists.

 

Tell them that, as a genealogist, you do not want to lose your status as American citizens simply because your reason for making legal requests may be different from that of others, nor can your requests be treated as inferior to those of other citizens. In this country, all must be treated equally under the law.

 

The bill is ostensibly from the Commissioner of Public Health, Dr. Jewell Mullen (see her at http://www.ct.gov/dph/cwp/view.asp?a=3115&q=473414). Visit her page and send her a complaining message too. She was probably importuned by a small handful of registrars, but we don’t know; because this is a short session of the legislature, bills are not introduced by individual legislators, so tracking the origin of this proposal is most difficult.

 

More information about the bill and the names of all legislators can be found at http://www.cga.ct.gov. You should become as familiar with this site as possible (this may become a yearly event!). It is possible to track the progress on this legislation by clicking “bill tracking” at the upper right corner; then, when a change is made, you will receive an e-mail letting you know of the change. To find the wording of this bill, simply type in “414” in the box at the top labeled “Number,” then click on “Raised Bill” and a pdf copy of the bill should pop up.

 

Thank you so much for your help with this crisis. Your individual support is absolutely essential to defeating this threat.

UPDATED 28 Mar 2014:

RPAC Member Barbara Matthews has shared the following report from Tom Howard:

“Dear Friends in Genealogy:

The note just received from 6th District and Co-Chairman of the Public Health Committee Senator Gerratana’ s office has confirmed that SB 414 has failed to get out of the committee to the floor of the State Senate and House because of the outpouring of letters, phone calls and e mails received and testimony given at the public hearing on the bill.

We feel confident that the bill is dead and will stay dead for this session. We will remain vigilant that the matter will not appear as amendments to other bills. We ask that you thank senators and representatives for any help they have given us while asking them to continue to watch for any matters affecting genealogists.

Robert Rafford, Nora Galvin and I thank you again for your help in getting the message out.

Sincerely,

Tom Howard

Genealogical Coalition 2014

Steering Committee

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Record Access Article in Avotaynu

IAJGS was privileged to be asked to write an article on records access as the lead article for the 2013 Fall Issue of Avotaynu.  The article was a collaborative work of the members of the IAJGS Public Records Access Monitoring Committee.

You may access the article at http://www.iajgs.org/pramc/legislation.html . The article is posted in two parts.

The article focuses on three areas: the European Union Proposed Data Privacy Regulation, the [US]  2011 Model State Vital Records Regulation and the access to Death Master File/ Social Security Death Index which Congress has been debating for several years.  The article was published before this week’s surprise inclusion in the Bi Partisan Budget Bill with the limited access to the Death Master File/Social Security Death Index.  The Bi Partisan Budget bill passed the House of Representatives  332-94  and Senate voted on December 17 67-33 to advance the bill for a floor vote expected this week where it is likely to pass.  The issues discussed about the DMF/SSDI are still relevant regarding permitting specific types of genealogists to have immediate access and the IAJGS as part of the genealogical community will be working toward that end in 2014 with the Commerce Department and the relevant Congressional Committees to expand the definition of “legitimate users” to include these types of genealogists..

Thank you to Sally Ann Sack-Pikus and Gary Mokotoff for recognizing the importance of records access to invite the article and to give it prominence as the lead Avotaynu article.

Jan Meisels Allen

Chairperson, IAJGS Public Records Access Monitoring Committee

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Budget Bill Passes House Floor Vote — Updated 13 December

The Budget agreement that was announced on Tuesday 10 December was the subject of a House Floor vote today.  At 6:26pm Eastern Standard Time, the House adopted the proposed continuing resolution H.J.Res. 59 by a vote of 332-94.  On conclusion of today’s business the House adjourned to reconvene on Monday the 16th of December.

Senate action is not yet scheduled but may be anticipated before the end of session adjournment.

Update 13 December:  Washington Post is reporting that the Senate will begin debate on Tuesday 17 December with a vote to be scheduled later in the week.  http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-politics/wp/2013/12/13/budget-agreement-poised-to-advance-in-the-senate/?wpisrc=nl_pmpol  

and the London Daily Mail reports  http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2523120/ZERO-Senate-Republicans-support-budget-agreement-Democrats-five.html 

 

With thanks to Sharon Sergeant, the following Reuters Article sheds an interesting light on the role the Death Master File may have played in the Budget Agreement:

“Death Master File reform breathes life into U.S. budget deal”

http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/12/11/us-usa-budget-deathlist-idUSBRE9BA1D520131211

The proponents of DMF closure are citing numbers that I can’t recognize in asserting how much revenue will be “raised” by the closure.  My impression is that the numbers cited in the Reuters article (quoting unnamed Congressional staffers) are only achievable if the closing of access to SSNs of the deceased somehow  intercepts fraudulent use of the SSNs of the living.

 

Additionally, Barbara Matthews provided the following links to the APG Members List:

(1)  Judy Russell at http://www.legalgenealogist.com/blog/2013/12/12/vote-looms-on-ssdi-closure/and

(2)   the Massachusetts Genealogical Council at http://www.massgencouncil.org/index.php?option=com_easyblog&view=entry&id=64&Itemid=127

RPAC had also addressed the issue of Tax Fraud and Tax ID Theft  before the Senate Finance Committee last Spring:

http://www.fgs.org/rpac/2013/05/05/senate-finance-committee-16-april-hearing-update-pending/

Much more to come.

 

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Budget Bill Includes the Access Limitations for Death Master File/SSDI

With thanks to Jan Meisels Allen,

The Bipartisan Budget Bill 2014 includes a revenue –generating provision that limits access to the Death Master File/Social Security Death Index. The provisions are identical to bills IAJGS and the genealogical community have been opposing in submitted statements to the US Congress for several years as there are no provisions to permit genealogists to have immediate access nor the special categories of genealogists that the genealogical community have agreed are to be given immediate access while the rest of us may wait a few years. The budget bill includes penalties for violations $1,000 per violations with  a cap of $250,000 per person violator which is included in the revenue generating provisions.

 

The access restrictions to the Death Master File as stated in the bipartisan budget bill are for three years from date of death.  Those certified by the Secretary of Commerce  who have immediate access are listed to have legitimate fraud prevention interest or a legitimate business purpose pursuant to law governmental rule regulation or fiduciary duty and has systems, facilities, and procedures in place to safeguard such information, and experience in maintaining the confidentiality, security, and appropriate use of such information,

 

To read the bipartisan budget bill which is currently being debated in both the House and Senate see: http://tinyurl.com/kpksqp4  Go to section 203 starting on page 32 through page 37 to read the restrictions.

Original url:

http://docs.house.gov/billsthisweek/20131209/AMNT-113-HJRes59sa-1R_xml.pdf
To read about the proposed revenue generation based on penalties go to:  http://tinyurl.com/mu5gbjd

Original url:

http://www.cbo.gov/sites/default/files/cbofiles/attachments/Bipartisan%20Budget%20Act%20of%202013.pdf     See pages 9 and 10

 

Thank you to Sharon Sergeant of the Massachusetts Genealogical Council for alerting us to this new threat for genealogists access to the Death Master File/Social Security Death File.

Jan Meisels Allen

Chairperson, IAJGS Public Records Access Monitoring Committee

Stay tuned.  Much more to come!

 

 

 

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Founding RPAC Member Joy Reisinger, RIP

With thanks to Linda McCleary for bringing this news to our attention:

BCG Springboard:  News and Notes has posted a new item, “Former BCG Vice President Joy Reisinger, RIP”

Guest post by the Rev. David McDonald, CGSM

It is my sad duty to report that Joy Reisinger, Certified Genealogist Emeritus died early Tuesday morning, 10 December 2013, in her hometown of Sparta, Wisconsin.  A past trustee and vice president of the Board, Joy also served as conference program co-chair for the NGS conferences at Saint Paul and Milwaukee. . . .

You may view the full BCG  post at:

http://bcgcertification.org/blog/2013/12/former-bcg-vice-president-joy-reisinger-rip/

Our friend and colleague will be missed.

 

 

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DDP Anniversary — ECPA Reform Day of Action — Updated 12 December

It has now been a year since the Records Preservation and Access Committee joined the Digital Due Process Coalition in the hope of injecting the interests of the genealogical community into the dialogue being conducted in Washington DC.  Far too often we had previously observed a tendency to address privacy concerns with a reflexive tendency to simply close access to the records we need.  We announced that affiliation in a blog post on 2 December 2012 found here:  http://www.fgs.org/rpac/2012/12/02/ssdi-the-search-for-allies/

 

A number of our colleagues in the DDP Coalition (and other enterprises) last Thursday , the 5th of December, joined a nationwide day of action calling for reform of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) [http://www.digital4th.org/petition.html], the law that says the government can access your email and documents in the cloud without a warrant.

The announcement of this effort continued:

“ECPA is one of the Internet’s most outdated laws – it was enacted in 1986, before most people had access to a home computer or email. While the public has been rightfully outraged over reports that the NSA accesses communications without a warrant, ECPA says that hundreds of other government agencies—like the IRS, FBI, and DEA, as well as state and local law enforcement agencies—can access many of our stored emails, private social media messages, and documents in the cloud without getting a warrant from a judge. The law flies directly in the face of our Fourth Amendment values; in fact, many companies have fought back and now demand warrants before turning over customers’ communications.

 

Bills to reform ECPA have gained huge support in recent months from both parties in Congress. However, legislation is now being blocked by a proposal from the Securities and Exchange Commission, which is pushing for a special carve-out for regulatory agencies to get your documents from online providers without a warrant. The SEC carve-out would neuter ECPA reform.

 

That’s why we’re calling on the White House to break its silence and stand up for ECPA reform. We need President Obama to tell the SEC to back down in its demands for troubling new powers and make clear that the time for ECPA reform is now.

 

Today we ask you join us by signing this petition to the White House [http://www.digital4th.org/petition.html]. It’s time for the President to join tech companies, startups, advocates, and Members of Congress by supporting this commonsense, long overdue reform to ensure our privacy rights online.”

Update:  12 December–As of early this morning, the number of signers of the petition had exceeded the 100K threshold required to trigger a formal response from the Administration.  Over 30 thousand signatures were garnered in the last two days, an astounding feat!

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Maine Vital Records Regulations — Call for Input

Most of the posts to this blog involve statutory threats to our access to the records we need.  The development of the regulations implementing these statutes give reason for continuing concern about our access and may provide an additional opportunity for the genealogical community to influence the outcome.

With thanks to Helen Shaw, the President of the Maine Genealogical Society (and the RPAC State Liaison) we have such an opportunity at this time.  Helen will be coordinating the position of the genealogical community to be presented to authorities in Maine by the 12th of December.

The attachments to which she refers are found here:

ODRVS rules chapter 4

ODRVS rules chapter 8

DHHS revised rules

In her words:

“Last Friday I, and other members of the vital records stakeholders group, received an e-mail from Theresa Roberts, the rule making coordinator for Data, Research, and Vital Statistics, with the draft revision of the rules for accessing vital records. Stakeholders have until December 12 to submit comments on the draft. A meeting of the group is scheduled for December 12, but the location is not yet set.

Basically what Theresa has done is combine the old rule chapters 4 & 8 into one document. I have attached as pdfs the draft revision and copies of the original chapters 4 & 8. I have only had time to do a quick read through the draft and have already contacted Theresa on some issues. I do think that many parts of chapter 4 have been deleted to the detriment of genealogists, but need to confirm that by comparing the original chapters with the revision.

I would like to have your input on these rules. You all will be my second set of eyes. If you have any chapter meetings coming up, please discuss this issue and pass on any suggestions to me.

I would also like to hear about folks’ problems with accessing vital records over the past 2 years, both at town offices and at the state vital records office. I would also like to hear about how often folks access vital records, again at both the town and state level: are they going in occasionally for themselves or clients; are they looking for one record or many, one surname or many; are they allowed to look at indexes or must they always ask a clerk to look up a record; are they charged a fee — if yes, how much.  It would be most helpful if I could have this information before the December 12 meeting. Folks can e-mail me directly or, for chapters, you can collect the responses and send them as a group.

Thanks for your help. Do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.

Helen

Helen Shaw <hashaw@earthlink.net>

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EU Data Protection Regulation — 7 Oct Meeting of Ministries of Justice

With thanks to Jan Meisels Allen, IAJGS Vice President updating our RPAC post of  2 September 2013

I have previously written about the European Union’s proposed Data Privacy Regulation and the concerns of the genealogical community with the potential for loss of access to records of genealogical value. On October 7 the Ministries for Justice and Home Affairs of the 28 Member States of the European Union met in Luxembourg to further discuss the proposed regulation.  The Ministers were unable to agree on a particular key provision—known as the “one stop shop” principle which resulted in a further postponement of discussion and possible vote until December.  To read the proposed regulation see: http://tinyurl.com/6rzj4se

Original url:

http://ec.europa.eu/justice/data-protection/document/review2012/com_2012_11_en.pdf

The ‘one stop shop” principle, Chapter IV of the draft regulation, would change the current rule that requires multinationals processing personal data established in several EU member countries  to comply with the local requirements of each jurisdiction. The proposal would instead have a supervisory authority of the “main” establishment be in control. The concern by some of the EU countries is that the there is a potential for “forum shopping” going to the jurisdiction offering the lowest level of protection.  While this is not an issue that directly affects genealogists, the fact that the proposed regulation vote has been postponed for the fourth time is of interest to us.  In May 2014 there will be elections and a new European Union Council will be seated, which may affect the decision-making about this proposed regulation.  Once a regulation is adopted by the European Union, then all of the EU member countries are required to comply with the uniform regulation.

To read about the  October 7 meeting see: http://tinyurl.com/kafk9om

Original url: http://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=9ed30a80-1069-4265-9846-04e6f6f1de24

Jan Meisels Allen

IAJGS Vice President

Chairperson, IAJGS Public Records Access Monitoring Committee

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