Genealogists Support Archivists’ Policy on Access to State and Local Records

Dilts GD, Second floor microfilm cabinets, Family History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah

The Records Preservation and Access Committee (RPAC) supports the Joint Statement by the Council of State Archivists, National Association of Government Archives and Records Administrators, and Society of American Archivists which was signed in March 2016 and can be read in its entirety at Archivists are the custodians of many of the local, state, and federal records which are important to our genealogical research. We acknowledge that archivists are under considerable pressure to preserve and maintain access to a growing number of public records within the constraints of decreasing budgets.

The Records Preservation and Access Committee is sponsored by the Federation of Genealogical Societies, the National Genealogical Society, and the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies, and supported by the Association of Professional Genealogists, the Board for Certification of Genealogists, the American Society of Genealogists, and the International Commission for the Accreditation of Professional Genealogists.

The genealogical societies and professional organizations listed above represent several thousand local, state, and regional societies, more than 400,000 members researching family history, and over 2,000 professional and forensic genealogists whose important work includes tracking relatives with possible inheritable diseases; working with coroners to identify unclaimed persons; finding next of kin of unclaimed persons for repatriation of military remains; heir research; proving Native American tribal membership; adoption cases; land disputes; and oil and gas leases. As reported by Voice of America News, September 26, 2013, “Genealogy, in fact, has become a global phenomenon. A market research firm, Global Industry Analysts, says there are more than 80 million professional and amateur genealogists around the world.”

RPAC agrees that “government archives play a critical role in ensuring citizens’ rights and preserving the nation’s history by identifying, preserving, and ensuring public access to records that document government actions.” In 2014 RPAC initiated the “Genealogists’ Declaration of Rights” which has been signed by more than 10,700 genealogists in support of access to public records. The Declaration can be viewed and signed at RPAC applauds the archivists’ statement and commitment to our shared goals.

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Jan Alpert

Chair of the Records Preservation and Access Committee, former president and board member of the National Genealogical Society, and chair of the NGS conference committee.

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