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Speak out for continued access

The fight to keep access to critical vital records open to genealogical research is never-ending.

The latest battle is being fought in New York City — and our help is needed.

The Legal Genealogist passes on this information from the New York Genealogical & Biographical Society (NYG&B) about this latest threat to our access to needed records:

The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene is proposing a new rule that would affect when birth and death records are made available to the public and transferred to the Department of Records and Information Services.


The proposed schedule would greatly lengthen the amount of time a birth or death record is restricted for public access, which would negatively impact family history researchers everywhere. …


The deadline to submit your comment is October 24, 5:00 pm ET!


We’re calling on you to take action and make your voice heard!


If this rule is passed, New York City


• birth records will be locked up for 125 years;


• death records will be inaccessible for 75 years.


To keep these historical records accessible to the millions who have New York ancestors, we need to mobilize quickly and act decisively!

The NYG&B has prepared an official public comment that sets out an authoritative and well-reasoned argument in support of its position that you can read here.

But here’s the bottom line: though NYG&B is taking the lead here, it can’t do this alone. It needs the genealogical community — those of us near New York, those of us who research in New York, those of us with ancestors who were ever in New York — to join in.

The call to action has several parts:

Get and stay educated: Listen to NYG&B President D. Joshua Taylor speak on this issue — and get yourself ready to speak out yourself.

Sign the petition: Sign on to the NYG&B petition to keep records access open. You can do that right on an action page set up by NYG&B:

Attend the hearing: If you’re local or you’re going to be in New York on October 24 when the Department of Health is holding its hearing, be there. You don’t have to say a word. Just be there to show support for records access. And, of course, if you do wish to speak, keep it short, to the point, polite — and on message.

Send a comment: Don’t just sign the petition. Write your own personal letter explaining why this would impact your personal research. Government agencies do pay attention when lots of people speak out.

Get others involved: Send the info about this problem to others you know research in New York City and all those who care about records access. There’s more on the NYG&B action page on how to do this easily.

Need more info? The link for more information is here at the NYG&B site.

Yeah, I know, it seems like we’re always fighting this issue. But the truth is, when we stand together, we win more than we lose.

So keep fighting…

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