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Massachusetts Genealogical Council

About Us

First a little bit of history...

Massachusetts enacted its first law ensuring that public records remain accessible in 1639. The public good is improved when historians, genealogists, journalists, authors, investigators –– all citizens –– have access to records produced by our government. Genealogists owe it to themselves to advocate for open public records.

The Massachusetts Genealogical Council (MGC) was founded in 1980 from a committee within the the Massachusetts Society of Genealogists. That committee focused on preserving records at the state archives and the need for legislation to ensure this. Now MGC is the umbrella organization representing Massachusetts genealogists, historical societies, and individuals concerned about records preservation and free and unfettered access to civil records. We do that by paying attention to government agencies and legislation impacting genealogists and by providing innovative educational opportunities for Massachusetts genealogists. Our work includes:

  • monitoring legislative and administrative activities of governmental agencies which affect genealogists;

  • sponsoring and presenting legislation and programs designed to expand the resources and accessibility of services;

  • developing and promoting the growth, education and exchange of ideas among persons and organizations interested in the pursuit of genealogy; and

  • providing educational activities to advance genealogy.


The Shirley M. Barnes Records Access Award

Annually the Massachusetts Genealogical Council gives out an award to someone who has made significant sweat equity contribution to records access for genealogists. 

MGC Statement on Diversity, Inclusion, and Justice

At the Massachusetts Genealogical Council, we strive to represent the needs and concerns of all genealogists in Massachusetts. To do so, we have member societies that send delegates to our board meetings. We rely on the delegates to tell us what is important and to focus our message.

To be inclusive in representing the diversity of Massachusetts residents and genealogists, the MGC board has made the following commitments.

  • We will prioritize our outreach to societies representing genealogists of color here in Massachusetts.

  • We will design seminars that include discussions of genealogy beyond that of European descent.

  • We will ensure that our analysis of historic records will recognize the way in which communities of color have been marginalized or misrepresented.


We take responsibility for our part in recording and teaching American history and genealogy accurately. We look forward to becoming a genealogy society that does a better job of representing our entire community.

This statement was unanimously accepted by MGC board members and delegates on 18 July 2020.

Inclusion Statement

Our Societies, Affiliations, and Communities

We are a community of organizations supporting genealogy and history. Our members receive:

  • one table in our vendor hall to present their organization to all attendees at our Seminar that provides multiple tracks of presentations on genealogical and records access issues;

  • invitations for their president and delegate to participate in our regular board meetings and to discuss issues of paramount importance to genealogists and historians alike; and

  • their organization’s web-link posted on the MGC website.

Member Societies

National Affiliations

Records Access Community


Click on this photo to download our brochure. 

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The Role of a Society Delegate

Connecting to Our Community

Each MGC member society is requested to send a Delegate to our board meetings, which take place 5 or 6 times a year at a central location or as a videoconference. This is how our board stays connected to  the concerns and issues of genealogists in Massachusetts. The Delegate's role is of vital importance to us in our mission.

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