NOTE: I did not write any of the following article! All credit is given to Thomas MacEntee, and the Geneabloggers site.
[Editor's Note: as the genealogy industry continues to grow and evolve, more and more opportunities are found where the input of genealogists and family historians is needed. Look for more of these Call to Action posts here at GeneaBloggers in the future.]
Calling all genealogists and family historians – especially if you are concerned about access to any and all vital records. Right now plans are in the work to increase restrictions for Virginia vital records – to 125 years for birth records and 75 years for marriage and death records!
What’s Happening with Virginia Vital Records
On Tuesday, November 22, 2011, the Virginia Joint Commission on Health Care (JCHC) will vote on to extend the current access restrictions by another 25 years. Between now and November 22, 2011 you can send your comments to the committee members and let them know why the restrictions to access should not be extended.
What You Can Do about Virginia Vital Records Access
Here is how you can get involved:
- Read the Memorandum to the Genealogical Communityby Peter E. Broadbent, Jr., Former President of the Virginia Genealogical Society: http://www.geneabloggers.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/20111101-Memo-re-VA-Vital-Records.pdf (opens in PDF)
- Read the public comments from the October 17, 2011 JCHC meeting to understand the arguments being made for and against increased restrictions: http://services.dlas.virginia.gov/User_db/frmView.aspx?ViewId=2589 (opens in PDF).
- Download this sample letter to the members of the JCHC, add your insights and comments and add your name and address at the end: http://www.geneabloggers.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/Sample-Letter-JCHC.doc (Opens in Microsoft Word)
- Send your letter via email to
Senators, General Area, Email address
Linda T. Puller, Fairfax, Prince William, firstname.lastname@example.org
George Barker, Fairfax, Prince William, email@example.com
Harry B. Blevins, Chesapeake/Portsmouth, firstname.lastname@example.org
Edd Houck, Fredericksburg/Orange, email@example.com
Louise Lucas, Portsmouth – Brunswick, firstname.lastname@example.org
Ralph Northam, M.D., Norfolk, Matthews, Eastern Shore, email@example.com
William Wampler, Bristol and Southwest, firstname.lastname@example.org
Patricia S. Ticer, Alexandria/Arlington/Fairfax, email@example.com
House of Delegates, General Area, Email address
Ben Cline, Amherst – Lexington, firstname.lastname@example.org
Bob Brink, Arlington, email@example.com
David Bulova, Fairfax, firstname.lastname@example.org
Rosalyn Dance, Petersburg, email@example.com
Scott Garrett, M.D., Lynchburg, firstname.lastname@example.org
Algie Howell, Norfolk, email@example.com
Harvey Morgan, Gloucester, firstname.lastname@example.org
Dave Nutter, Radford/Roanoke, email@example.com
John O’Bannon, M.D. Henrico, firstname.lastname@example.org
Chris Peace, Hanover, email@example.com
Copy and paste the entire block of addresses here:
firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com;firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com;firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com;firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com;firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com;firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com;firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com;firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com;firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com
And don’t forget to follow the Records Preservation and Access Committee blog at http://www.fgs.org/rpac/ to follow all the latest news about vital records access and changes to laws and policies affecting genealogists and family historians.
Please take a minute and step away from your own genealogy research and get involved. Even if you don’t have Virginia ancestors, realize that other states and entities look at what is being done regarding vital records access – your state or municipality might be next!
Email or write the contacts listed above and let them know as a genealogist and family historian what it means to access such records. Don’t be afraid to get personal – share your success stories or how you’ve helped a client using vital records.
Many small voices make for one large voice. Our history here in the United States has shown this to be so. Our ancestors call out to us for their stories to be told. Our duty is to let legislators and others in decision-making positions hear those voices and work to provide reasonable and responsible access to vital records – everywhere.
©2011, copyright Thomas MacEntee
We all grow up with the weight of history on us. Our ancestors dwell in the attics of our brains as they do in the spiraling chains of knowledge hidden in every cell of our bodies. ~Shirley Abbott