Genealogy Researchers! Take Action!


Dear Family, Friends, and Fellow Genealogists:
This may be a rather lengthy message, but it is NOT SPAM; one way or another, it will affect all of us, and our descendants, forever. Do bear with me (and do understand that Congress'man' shall also mean Congress'woman') ............
Please pass the word. Get everyone you know, including others in your household, to send this message to our officials in Washington, because the Patriot Act, if this portion goes through, will literally stop genealogical research in its tracks.
I'm asking that you and these other folks do some urgently needed things (1, 1a, and 2) - NOW, as the vote is to come within the next couple of weeks!:
(1) E-mail, write or telephone your Congressional representatives*, sending the following message - short and sweet - (you may use your own wording, but do keep it short, and remember to leave in the underlined language that we seek): Please create your own message to officials, do not just forward this e-mail - thanks.
** Please also include a contact to SHAYS, from Connecticut, who is a co-chair of this item, even if he is not in your district or state.
(1a) Kindly also contact your Senator, with the same information, prefaced by the following text (which concerns a related Bill now active in The Senate):

(2) Please forward, within the next day or two, the information in this e-mail, to everyone on your United States mail list. Whether or not they are into genealogy, this opportunity - this right to know - must be protected for them, their children, and their future generations who may one day ask questions about their heritage. Ask everyone to participate in this e-mail campaign, to show the officials just how important the matter is to individual Americans.

* To e-mail Congressman/Senator - go to "Congress.org"
To access HR-10 on the Internet - go to "thomas.loc.gov"
SOME BACKGROUND, for those who don't fully understand the problem with the Bill as it currently stands: They (as part of the Patriot Act, resulting from "9/11") want to stop access to vital records, especially births, to all persons who are not named on that record. To join a patriotic or hereditary society, or even to begin your own personal research, you MUST begin with yourself, then your parents, then your grandparents, to PROVE your connection to each succeeding past generation before going on to the next. If these records are closed, no one will be able to access/prove such information, and groups like DAR and similar will have to close down. No new members will be able to join, effective with this law. Without the possibility of even getting started on one's personal history, there will be no need to have genealogical societies, libraries, etc. We'll eventually have no need for personnel in such facilities/occupations. Once this limit gets passed at the National level, the individual states can do nothing but obey that ruling. The intent of the rule is to "prevent identity theft". But where are the criminals getting such information? Not from genealogical records, but from dumpster-diving in bank (etc.) trash areas, and the like, where all sorts of "confidential" information is readily at hand! Stopping family history searches will not stop identity theft!
We in the genealogical field would like to retain authorized access to these public records We recognize the need to tighten access, and we have been working closely with local vital records officials to see that rules are implemented and followed. Currently in Connecticut (after our appearing before a legislative hearing last Winter), a researcher must be a valid and current member of a genealogical society incorporated and authorized to to business in the State of Connecticut. Along with such card, one must produce a photo ID, usually a drivers license, and the Town Clerk will photocopy these before one can gain access. Thus we prove a legitimate reason for acquiring said information.
Thanks for "listening", and for whatever you and your contacts can do to help. Some of us are fearful that if we don't speak up, this constricting legislation will go through, in the midst of election activities, and the immediate aftermath, when tired officials may not be paying attention to the full ramifications of their actions.

Here are some links to Additional Related web pages:

Rep. Ron Paul of TX speaks to the House

Electronic Privacy Information Center - Patriot Act

Minimum Standards for Federal Recognition

THOMAS Legislation Information on the Internet