Georgia to Close State Archives to the Public

With thanks to RPAC State Liaison Elizabeth Olson,  the Georgia Secretary of State published the following announcement on 13 September 2012:

Statement from Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp on Public Closure of the State Archives Effective November 1, 2012

 

The Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget has instructed the Office of the Secretary of State to further reduce its budget for AFY13 and FY14 by 3% ($732,626).  As it has been for the past two years, these cuts do not eliminate excess in the agency, but require the agency to further reduce services to the citizens of Georgia.  As an agency that returns over three times what is appropriated back to the general fund, budget cuts present very challenging decisions.  We have tried to protect the services that the agency provides in support of putting people to work, starting small businesses, and providing public safety.

To meet the required cuts, it is with great remorse that I have to announce, effective November 1, 2012, the Georgia State Archives located in Morrow, GA will be closed to the public.  The decision to reduce public access to the historical records of this state was not arrived at without great consternation.  To my knowledge, Georgia will be the only state in the country that will not have a central location in which the public can visit to research and review the historical records of their government and state.  The staff that currently works to catalog, restore, and provide reference to the state of Georgia’s permanent historical records will be reduced.  The employees that will be let go through this process are assets to the state of Georgia and will be missed.  After November 1st, the public will only be allowed to access the building by appointment; however, the number of appointments could be limited based on the schedule of the remaining employees.

Since FY08, the Office of the Secretary of State has been required to absorb many budget reductions, often above the minimum, while being responsible for more work.  I believe that transparency and open access to records are necessary for the public to educate themselves on the issues of our government.  I will fight during this legislative session to have this cut restored so the people will have a place to meet, research, and review the historical records of Georgia.

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Check back in coming days for suggestions as to appropriate responses from the genealogical community.

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National Archives Announces Increase in Copying Fees Nationwide

With thanks to Jan Meisels Allen for the alert and Linda McCleary for the summary:

The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) will be raising copying charges for the second time this year. The last increase was May 2012. The new fee schedule will be effective 01 October 2012.

The following fee schedule shows the current pricing and the future charges.

Description

Old Fee

New Fee

Self-Service
Self-service paper-to-paper copies (all NARA facilities)

$.20 and $.25

$.25

Self-service microfilm-to-paper copies

$.50

$.60

Self-service paper-to-paper copies – color

$1.25

$1.35

Self-service book-to-paper copies

$.75

$.85

Self-service photo to photo (DC region only)

$8.00

$11.00

Self-service video copying session with tape – additional video tape

$2.50

$3.00

NARA Reproduction Services
Minimum reproductions order

$15.00

$20.00

Paper-to-paper (or CD/DVD) (up to and including 11″ x 17″)

$.75

$.80

Color paper-to-paper

$3.00

$4.60

Microfilm or microfiche to paper

$2.90

$3.50

Paper to microfilm

$2.65

$2.50

Microfiche duplication,domestic shipping

$10.00

$12.00

Microfiche duplication, foreign shipping

$20.00

$22.00

Expedited shipping

$25.00

$30.00

Digitized/Digital NARA Reproduction Services
Basic digitized scan – up to 8 ½″ x 14″

$.75

$.80

Born-digital files, 10 or fewer files

$15.00 per file

$17.00 per file

Born-digital files, 11 or more files

$13.00 per file

$14.00 per file

Fixed-Fee Orders
NATF Form 81: Order for Copies of Ship Passenger Arrival Records

$25.00

$20.00

NATF Form 82: Order for Copies of Federal Census Records

$25.00

$20.00

NATF Form 83: Order for Copies of Eastern Cherokee Application Files

$25.00

$20.00

NATF Form 84: Order for Copies of Land Records

$40.00

$50.00

NATF Form 85: Order for Copies of Federal Pension or Land Warrant Applications
Full Pension Application File – Pre–Civil War
Full Pension Application File – Civil War and Later (up to 100 pages)
Full Pension Application File – (each additional page after 100)
Pension Documents Packet
Bounty Land Warrant Application
$50.00
$75.00
$.65
$25.00
$25.00

$55.00
$80.00
$.70
$30.00
$30.00

NATF Form 86: Order for Copies of Military Service Files $25.00

$30.00

Accessioned Draft Registration Card (minimum reproductions order does not apply) $5.00

$7.00

Accessioned Naturalization Record (minimum reproductions order does not apply) $7.50

$10.00

Archival Official Military Personnel Files (OMPFs), 6 or more pages $60.00

$70.00

Archival Official Military Personnel Files (OMPFs), 5 or fewer pages $20.00

$25.00

Archival Official Personnel Folders (OPFs), 6 or more pages $60.00

$70.00

Archival Official Personnel Folders (OPFs), 5 or fewer pages $20.00

$25.00

Self-service copies will be $0.25 per page at all NARA facilities. NARA-made copies will be $0.80 per page. Fees for reproductions not listed will be unchanged; current fees are online [www.archives.gov/research/order/fees.html]. For more information on NARA’s fees, fee calculations, payment and refund policies, see the Code of Federal Regulations 36 CFR 1258 online at http://tinyurl.com/CFRfees.

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Some States Are Raising Their Fees For Vital Records

Several states have announced they recently raised or will be raising their vital records fees. Note older records in many states are retained in their state archives. Depending on what record you are looking for in a particular state you may need to also search the archives sites–which may have different fee structures.

Alaska

Births become public records 100 years after the event; deaths, marriages, and divorces become public records 50 years after the event.  The Alaska Bureau of Vital Statistics is increasing the fee by $5.00 for most all records effective September 4, 2012. The records effected include: increased the fees for all certified copies of vital records (birth, death, fetal death, marriage, divorce), heirloom birth and marriage certificate fees, certificate of birth resulting in stillbirth fee, affidavit of paternity, adoption, and correction processing fees, and the fee for issuing marriage licenses in Alaska.  To read more go to: http://www.hss.state.ak.us/dph/bvs/

Colorado

Effective August 1, 2012 the Colorado Vital Records increased the charge for a death certificate to $20.00.  All other certificates were not increased at this time.    See: http://tinyurl.com/8zoq6x7 

original url: http://www.colorado.gov/cs/Satellite/CDPHE-CHEIS/CBON/1251593016787

Maryland

The Division of Vital Records of the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene issues certified copies of birth, death, fetal death, and marriage certificates for events that occur in Maryland. Birth  and death certificates are $24.00 (raised in July for death records). Marriage records are still $12.00. Current or former members of the Armed Services are not charged.  http://dhmh.maryland.gov/vsa/SitePages/apps.aspx

 

With thanks to:

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

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RPAC at Federation of Genealogical Societies at Birmingham

Records Preservation and Access issues are a recurring theme at the Federation of Genealogical Societies Annual Conference in Birmingham this week.

First up,  the APG Roundtable immediately following the Annual Meeting of the Association of Professional Genealogists, on Tuesday, August 28, 2012, at 7:00 PM Central in the Sheraton Birmingham Hotel, Ballroom XII.   Learn what you and/or your chapter can do to help preserve the records so crucial to our profession and ensure our access to those records in the future! The discussion will feature some enlightening role-playing by APG’S “Not Ready for Prime Time Players!”

On Wednesday, the 29th of August,   the Records Preservation and Access Committee will conduct an update session featuring our recent successes and setbacks.  They will also provide training materials and discuss the critical role played by State Liaisons to RPAC in addressing threats to our access to the records we need.

Immediately following this session, RPAC Chair David E. Rencher will address the FGS Luncheon on the topic “Records Access in a post 9/11 World.”  Learn what your society can do to combat this threat.

On Friday August 31st at 11am, I will be leading a discussion with the somewhat whimsical title “Genealogists:  Why do Officials Hate/Ignore Us?”  Genealogists need to be able to articulate why we want to know more about those who have gone before us.  We hope to develop some suggestions on how we can work better with decision makers.

Other conference sessions and events give examples of how genealogical societies and their members can play a role in cemetery and records preservation efforts.

Hope to see many of you there!

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Preserve the Pensions Project

War of 1812 Stedman Gift

FGS has recently announced the largest donation thus far in the Preserve the Pensions Project with a $135,000 gift from the Estate of Jon Stedman of Denton, Texas.

The project to digitize the seven million pages of pension files arising out of the War of 1812, continues a long tradition of coordinated projects initiated by the genealogical community to preserve and improve access to records of value for those who share our passion.

In the thirty-five years since its founding, the Federation of Genealogical Societies (and its member societies), in collaboration with archivists and other records custodians, have invested both time and treasure in projects ranging from the initial Malcolm S. Stern  NARA Gift Fund project to create a microform finding aid to The Cross Index to Selected City Streets and Enumeration Districts, 1910 Census to the immense Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System indexing project.

Never before have we attempted to raise funds from within our community on this scale.  None of our previous projects have come near requiring $3.5 million.

I suggest that as we succeed in achieving this goal, the benefits will go well beyond this particular set of records.  This accomplishment will also enhance our standing in the broader community as a real force to be reckoned with, especially with legislators who might be weighing measures that might limit our access.

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Library of Michigan– Collections To Move to the Archives

DNR Announcement

Threats to our access to records have taken many forms but particularly vexing in recent years have been those threats arising out of the current fiscal crisis.  From every corner of the country we have seen library and archive budgets slashed, hours curtailed, and severe staff reductions.  

The very survival of some of our best resources has been threatened.  In addressing a $2 Billion deficit in the Michigan budget, then Governor Jennifer M. Granholm issued an executive order in July 2009 which abolished the Department of History, Arts and Libraries. There was a proposal that surfaced in the summer of 2009 that would have dismantled the Library of Michigan, scattered the materials gathered over 180 years occupying 27 miles of shelving and turned the building into an interactive museum and a magnet school.

Within the genealogical community, the Library of Michigan has long been recognized as one of the premier state libraries in the country.  Visitors come from all across the country to research at the Library of Michigan.

In collaboration with our colleagues with the Michigan Genealogical Council, the member organizations of the Records Preservation and Access Committee have sought to work with Michigan decision-makers seeking to address this fiscal challenge and preserve the treasure represented by the Library of Michigan collections.  Some of those efforts have been reflected in multiple entries in this RPAC Blog over the last three years and in the web pages of the MGC at www.mimgc.org .  We have strongly encouraged Michigan officials to promote Genealogical Tourism using these resources to as a magnet to attract visitors.

As reorganized, the Library of Michigan fell under the stewardship of the Michigan Department of Education.  The Department of Natural Resources oversees the State Archives housed in the same building as the LOM and is responsible for the promotion of tourism in the state.

We commend the efforts of representatives of both state departments in reaching the arrangements announced above leading to the move of some of the LOM collections to the Michigan Archives where they will continue to be made available to the public. 

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RPAC at NGS–Session for State Liaisons & Concerned Genealogists

The National Genealogical Society annual conference meeting in Cincinnati this week includes a Records Preservation and Access meeting beginning at 3:00pm EDT in Junior Ballroom C of the Duke Energy Center on Thursday the 10th of May to which all interested in these issues are invited.

 

The topic is “How does the genealogical community organize to address threats to the records we need? Critical roles and resources for state liaisons.  Recent successes and setbacks.”

 

During this session we will review an updated model presentation developed by RPAC suitable for use by state liaisons in presentations before local groups, as well as a “toolkit” for confronting legislative threats to our access.  A newly developed toolkit addressing the process by which implementing regulations are developed will be shared. We will also survey recent successes and setbacks.

 

This meeting is open to all those interested in records preservation and access.  State liaisons are particularly urged to attend.  We also plan for remote participation.

 

We are still actively seeking State Liaisons for a number of states and would welcome any recommendations you may have. We will then contact them and see if they are willing to serve.

Contact us at:  access@fgs.org

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SSDI– House Ways & Means Committee Hearing– 8 May 2012

House Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee Chairman Charles Boustany, Jr., MD (R-LA) and Social Security Subcommittee Chairman Sam Johnson (R-TX) today announced that the Subcommittees on Oversight and Social Security will hold a hearing on tax fraud involving identity theft. The hearing will take place on Tuesday, May 8, 2012, in 1100 Longworth House Office Building, beginning at 10:00 A.M.

The topic of the hearing is Identity Theft and Tax Fraud.  The hearing announcement is found at:

http://waysandmeans.house.gov/News/DocumentSingle.aspx?DocumentID=293590

In view of the limited time available to hear from witnesses, oral testimony at this hearing will be from invited witnesses only. However, any individual or organization not scheduled for an oral appearance may submit a written statement for consideration by the Committee and for inclusion in the printed record of the hearing. A list of invited witnesses will follow.

More to come. . .  please stay tuned.

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SSDI–Statement for the Record–Senate Finance Subcommittee Hearing–20 March 2012

RPAC and its sponsoring organizations (FGS, NGS, IAJGS)  all submitted Statements for the Record supplementing the transcript of the March 20, 2012  hearing of the Subcommittee on Fiscal Responsibility and Economic Growth of the Senate Committee on Finance  entitled “Tax Fraud by Identity Theft, Part 2:  Status, Progress, and Potential Solutions” in response to a committee invitation to do so.

RPAC Statement for Record SFC

FGS Statement for Record SFC

NGS Statement for Record SFC

IAJGS Statement for Record SFC

We will be supplementing this posting with additional  Statements for the Record submitted by other societies and uniquely qualified individuals that come to our attention.

Kenneth H. Ryesky Comments for Record SFC

We have all been outraged by reports of identity thieves filing fraudulent tax refund claims using the SSNs of recently deceased infants & adults.  Our strongest message is that the means to stop this particular form of identity theft exists now, without waiting for any additional legislation.

       As existing policy regarding public access to the Death Master File is reviewed, we urge that input from actual genealogists be sought.  The members of the Records Preservation and Access Committee stand ready to assist in arranging for that input to both the Executive and Legislative branches.      

We continue to work with members and staff of the House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee and other interested legislators as they consider legislative responses to the outrageous conduct of identity thieves filing fraudulent tax return claiming refunds and credits utilizing the SSNs of recently deceased infants and adults.

 The outcome is far from certain.  Please stay tuned.  We may need to call for community action at various stages in the ongoing legislative process.

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SSDI Update–RPAC recomendation

On behalf of RPAC we thank all of the readers of the RPAC blog and most especially our state liaisons for helping carry the message of how important continued access to the SSDI is to the genealogical community.

 

As you are aware both the US House Ways and Means Committee Subcommittee on Social Security and the US Senate Finance Committee Subcommittee on Fiscal Responsibility and Economic Growth held hearings in February and March which addressed access by the public to the Death Master File also known commercially as the Social Security Death Index. The genealogical community was not invited to testify at either hearing, but the genealogical community, namely, FGS, IAJGS, NGS and RPAC along with others submitted written statements for the record to the House Subcommittee and this week each of us are submitting written statements for the record to the Senate Subcommittee. We have been in contact with staff of both subcommittees before each hearing and continue to be in touch with both staffs following the hearings….the issue is very much alive on our agendas.

 

Genealogists have proven to be effective negotiators as exemplified most recently with the successes in both Pennsylvania and Virginia where the local genealogical community with support from outside their respective states were successful in obtaining new laws with the public gaining greater access to vital records. Recently, the RPAC leadership discussed what is most realistic considering the differences between the House and Senate versions of legislation—no access or access two years including year of death. Compromise has to be considered, what is best for the overall genealogical community is to have reasonable access, and those professional genealogists who are forensic genealogists, heir researchers, and family medical history researchers should be given immediate access.

 

After listening to Congressional staff and discussion with others in the genealogical community, RPAC leaders’ statements for the record submitted to the Senate Subcommittee will state that:

 

While we advocate all genealogists should have immediate access to the SSDI, we would support the two year delay in access as proposed in S 1534-and if necessary the third year that National Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson advocated during her oral testimony during the March 20th hearing. This support is with the caveat that certain genealogists are to be eligible for certification for immediate access. These genealogists include: forensic genealogists, heir researchers, and those researching individual genetically inherited diseases.

 

 

We recognize that some of you may not agree with this position, but our collective and unified position is this is what is best in light of increased identity theft and legislators trying to address prevention on behalf of their constituents in an election year—even though genealogists are not the cause of identity theft.

 

 Judy Russell in her March 20th The Legal Genealogist Blog said, and we concur:

The big difference between last month’s House hearing and today’s Senate hearing is that, if we had to, most of us in the genealogical community could live with the bill that’s being considered today. Senate Bill 1534,2 sponsored by Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), isn’t perfect by any means, but it’s much much better for genealogists as a whole than the bill introduced on the House side by Rep. Sam Johnson (R-Tex.).3

Nelson’s bill really focuses on identity theft and fraudulent tax filings by people who steal the Social Security numbers of others and would only delay disclosure of death information reported to the SSDI.4 Johnson’s bill would take the SSDI away from the public forever.5 If we have no choice but an either-or, this one is a no-brainer.”

Otto Von Bismark said, never watch laws or sausage being made, and this is one of those times.  We hope that you will send in your statement to the Senate Subcommittee—they will accept it snail mail only ( no e-mails nor faxes) and the deadline is April 3.  Please send your statements for the record to:

Senate Committee on Finance
Attn. Editorial and Document Section
Rm. SD-219
Dirksen Senate Office Bldg.
Washington, DC 20510-6200

The required format is: A typewritten, single-spaced statement, not exceeding 10 pages in length. Title and date of the hearing, and the full name and address of the individual or organization must appear on the first page of the statement. Statements must be received no later than two weeks following the conclusion of the hearing.

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