I realized quickly that I’d have to “think outside the box” to learn about my ancestors. I LOVE to interview people, and listen to stories about "the older days" when life seemed a little slower and simpler. I study USGS maps, plats, read chanceries, look for long forgotten cemeteries and try to help preserve memories people share with me. This blog is ad free, so it's easier to focus on sharing stories. Feel free to sign the guestbook, or join the FaceBook group. Even if we aren't related by DNA, I'd still love to hear about your research efforts and family stories. I am interested in posting (to this blog) stories relevant to the Mecklenburg-Brunswick families.

25 September 2011

SB 865 Affecting VA vital records-Public Comment Deadline Oct 6th!

Update 26 Sept 2011: I'd like to thank Mr. Peter Broadbent for permission in posting his "Memorandum to the Genealogical Community" on my blog. Blogger cannot take PDF right now, so I unfortunately had to re-save it as JPEG, meaning the links do not work inside the visible Memorandum. Please note this important citation: that Mr. Peter Broadbent's Memorandum on this blog is attached with the full memo and legislative staff report at this link address that he gave me, posted (by VGS) at:

blog posting 25 Sep 2011:
A bill is about to go before the Virginia Legislature which will restrict records even more than they already are! Some records currently being handled by the LVA (Library of Virginia) will be taken by the VDH (Virginia Department of Health) if these new changes take place. The VDH has never been trained in how care for or archive records.

 Peter E. Broadbent, Jr., was the former VGS (Virginia Genealogical Society) President. He is also a lawyer who has explained in detail how this new law will affect genealogists in a paper called "Memorandum to the Genealogical Community". In this Memorandum, Mr. Broadbent states, "It is critical for all members of the genealogical community to file comments by October 6 with the Virginia legislative commission considering this issue."
 Mr. Broadbent also explains that the Virginia Department of Health will restrict more records, for longer time periods, sealing each record collection at least 25 years longer than current. (125 years for birth records). Also VDH restricts close family members from getting records. Senator Blevins from Chesapeake started this bill with the purpose to make records held by the Virginia Department of Health more accessible to the public, but instead the committee returned with the opposite expected results. The Virginia Genealogical Society and the Library of Virginia worked with the committee created for the bill called the Joint Health Care Study, on why Virginia records needed to be more open, including support from doctors about death certificates helping with family medical histories. They also gave the committee evidence that no legitimate identity theft or privacy issues were at stake. Instead the Joint Health Care committee came back with a report on Sept 19th to restrict records even more, the opposite of what Senator Blevins and archivists had intended. 
Mr. Broadbent's Memorandum explains in detail, 8 options and how to vote on each one to support genealogists and keeping records accessible to the public.
The following is the contact info Mr. Broadbent gives of where to send comments to: 

“     Please email comments referencing SB 865 (with your name and address) to
       sreid@jchc.virginia.gov, or fax them to 804-786-5538,
       Or mail to:                                     Joint Commission on Health Care,
P.O. Box 1322,
Richmond, VA 23218,

     To arrive by close of business on Thursday, October 6, 2011. “

“     If you are out of state, you might explain that you do research in Virginia, and that closing records will discourage travel to Virginia for research.”

1) This is a link to the Virginia Legislation Bill tracking page, so you can see where this bill is. Right now, the site just shows the bill is sitting with this Joint Health Care Committee. No date of the vote listed. http://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?111+sum+SB865

2) If you would like to read a PDF about Senator Blevan's bill, here is a link to that, as well as more detail about the specifics about the bill titled SB 865:  http://leg5.state.va.us/User_db/frmView.aspx?ViewId=1980

3) This is a web site called:  Records Preservation and Access Committee. Note: Their top story is also about Mr. Broadbent’s words: http://www.fgs.org/rpac/2011/09/24/access-to-virginia-vital-records-oct-6-deadline/ Also note on this site there is a publication about the case for open access to records.
In conclusion, Virginia is often an example and trendsetter regarding records. 125 years of records being closed would prevent millions of American immigrants from seeing the records of their parents and grandparents. It would prevent people from knowing their roots in “the Old Country”. Record preservation and record accessibility are very, very important things to me. I normally would not put something political on my blogs. But I am making an exception this time, because we will lose access to Virginia records if we do not speak up.
My goal with this post, is to supply you with some information, so you can learn the details and come to your own conclusions.  If you feel as I do, please speak up, in the little time we have. Help do our part keep Virginia records open, accessible, and in the hands of Library of Virginia and professional archivists!
Thank you! --Julie Cabitto

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