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Massachusetts Genealogical Council

Open Records Advocacy

Records, Jurisdictions, Advocacy

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 local genealogists. Our Civil Records Co-Directors divide their workload in this way: Massachusetts and Federal. Both sides of the equation promise an interesting year.

All Americans have rights to access information kept by local, state, and federal governments. These rights are important to the functioning of a democracy. They permit all citizens to watch the work that government does on their behalf.


For genealogists and historians and journalists, those access rights are central to our work. MGC keeps one eye focused on the importance of our work and our access. 


The Shirley M. Barnes Records Access Award

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

Where We Focus Our Advocacy



There are so many aspects of gaining access to state records. Did they survive from 1620? Where are they stored? What hours are the repository open? Is there a cost to use the records? What new legislation is proposed? Will it affect genealogists and historians?



The federal government has census records, military records, 19th century bankruptcy records, and a myriad of other historical records. We need to watch the budget process as well because it can affect money earmarked for archival work in Massachusetts.



Massachusetts has been at the forefront of care for the ill, infirm, and indigent for its history. Genealogists often lose track of ancestors or other relatives who end up in an institution. Our special project is to locate those records. This page grows as we add locations to the grand list.

Read the Information We've Compiled

Over the years MGC has produced materials to help you in many phases of using and framing discussions about records access. You can get copies of these materials on our Downloads page. 

Click on the quill pen to access our Downloads page.

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