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Records access notices

As genealogists, we need to be in the forefront of records access issues. If we can’t see the documents that give us the evidence we need, of relationships and more, then our research results will suffer.

But how? How do we stay abreast of all of the challenges there are out there these days?

Alert IconChallenges like the loss of access to the last three years of the Social Security Death Index.1

Challenges like the new Kansas Supreme Court rule on marriage records, that means that marriage information that had been publicly available for decades is no longer accessible.2

Challenges like the new European Union rules on privacy that may threaten even Holocaust research.3

Just keeping up with the fight on all the front is exhausting — and The Legal Genealogist alone couldn’t begin to keep our community informed the way we all need to be informed.

Fortunately, there are others out there committed to the same fight, who are doing more than any one individual could possibly do… and now you too can have the benefit of this collective work.

The International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies (IAJGS) has an announcement list, the IAJGS Records Access Alert. When it was started up some time ago, it was only open to select groups. But at the IAJGS 2015 October Board meeting, IAJGS made the wonderful decision to open the Alert list to anyone who is interested in records access.

Here’s what you need to do:

1. Head over to this link to sign up.

2. Enter your email address in the first box for the sign-up.

3. Enter a first name, a last name and an organization in the second box. You can use your local society as your organization — and you can use Legal Genealogist if you don’t belong to a local society.4 (John Doe Legal Genealogist will work, but only if your name is John Doe…)

4. Optionally, you can choose a password so nobody else can change your subscription — but be aware this isn’t much of a security check, and the password may be emailed to you occasionally, so don’t use the one you use for, say, your banking.

5. Check the radio button if you want to get one daily digest (on those days when there may be more than one announcement).

6. Wait until you get a confirming email from the list, and then click on the link in the email to validate your subscription.

That’s it: you’ll then be subscribed, and get the announcements from the list. It’s only for announcements, not discussion. This isn’t a chat list so the only email you’ll get will be the announcements and alerts. That means, of course, that you’re only going to get an email when there’s something important to be aware of, and not just on a routine daily or weekly basis.

Be aware, of course, that the best source of alerts is the community itself. It really is a “see-something-say-something” situation, and you can tell IAJGS about any problem brewing in your area by sending an email to

Records access isn’t something we can take for granted — and it’s not a responsibility we can leave to someone else. We all need to stay informed and to speak out when necessary.

And to do that, we have to stay informed.

Here’s an easy way to do that.

Sign up, won’t you?

I have…


  1. See 42 U.S.C. §1306c. See also Judy G. Russell, “SSDI access now limited,” The Legal Genealogist, posted 30 Dec 2013 ( : accessed 2 Nov 2015).
  2. See “Kansas Supreme Court Rule would redact Marriage Certificates,” RPAC blog, posted 1 April 2015 ( : accessed 2 Nov 2015). The new rule went into effect 1 October.
  3. See Sam Sokol, “Could new European digital privacy laws hurt Holocaust research?,” Jerusalem Post, posted 27 Oct 2015 ( : accessed 2 Nov 2015).
  4. Yes, I do have permission from IAJGS for you to do that!
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