What's Important to Us
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We have two board members committed to monitoring legislative activity and government regulations.
When necessary we let legislators know about the concerns of genealogists. Shirley Barnes, our early Civil Records Director, was instrumental in getting a law passed in the 1980s that moved vital records to the archives on a regular basis.
It's a complex world out there, with both state and federal records being important for genealogists.
The people on the board of the Massachusetts Genealogical Council are volunteers who work hard on your behalf, monitoring legislative activities and producing quality genealogy seminars. This section of our website provides more information about our organization as a whole and about our volunteer opportunities.
MGC does not stand alone in its effort to monitor government activities impacting genealogists and historians. It stands in a national community of groups participating in efforts to monitor legislation, to preserve records, and to open records access.
One of the biggest changes seen in genealogy over the past two decades is the emphasis genealogists now put on getting a good genealogical education--and on updating that education every year. We are eager to provide a fun learning experience with topnotch speakers on a myriad of important topics.
In even-numbered years, the MGC Seminar provides multiple tracks of presentations. In odd-numbered years, we volunteer at the New England Regional Genealogy Conference.
The Massachusetts Genealogical Council was established to monitor legislative activity pertaining to genealogical and historical research and to provide educational seminars on genealogy topics. Our legislative monitoring activity looks both at issues within Massachusetts and at issues outside Massachusetts that affect the genealogist. Our Civil Records Co-Directors divide their workload in this way: Massachusetts and Federal. Both sides of the equation promise an interesting year.
Our Member Organizations
An ancient saying recently quoted by the Senior Senator from Massachusetts
Why Do We Have a Sun Shining on Deed Books As Our Logo?
Several of the records genealogists use are open to us through Sunshine Laws. These include property records, probate records, tax records, poll records, military service records, public cemetery records, and town meeting records. Many a genealogist has broken a brick wall using these types of records.
Sunshine laws are laws that require government agencies and bodies to allow the public to attend their meetings and have access to their records. Sunshine laws are enacted at the state level and vary by state.
One type of record we use — the vital record — is not a public record. Vital records are among types of records prevented from disclosure by other laws which also vary from state to state. In most states, records not specifically deemed through law to be private are open records.
We not only watch for legislation that might change vital records access. We look for legislation or regulations that might impact genealogists in other ways, such as making record copies more expensive, or limiting the times during which research is permitted, or extending embargo periods.
 “Sunshine Laws Law and Legal Definition,” USLegal.com (https://definitions.uslegal.com/s/sunshine-laws/ | viewed 12 June 2019).