Massachusetts Genealogical Council

Federal Records

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Proposes New Fees

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) provides five key record types to genealogists. Click on these links to read a synopsis of each file type from the USCIS website.

  1. Naturalization Certificate Files (C-Files), 27 September 1906-31 March 1956

  2. Alien Registration Forms (Form AR-21), August 1940-March 1944

  3. Visa Files, 1 July 1924-31 March 1944

  4. Registry Files, 2 March 1929-31 March 1944

  5. A-Files, 1 April 1944-1 May 1951

The genealogy community was taken aback by the second fee increase requested by the USCIS in the last three years. The request was first published in the Federal Record issue of 14 November 2019.

A group of genealogists quickly formed to respond to this staggering fee increase of up to $625 for one file. Records Not Revenue developed an information website. They published a graph of fee increases for USCIS and helped to mobilize genealogists across the U.S.

When the Records Preservation and Access Committee developed a letter to be jointly signed by other genealogy societies, MGC responded with a resounding Yes from the board. Many of our member societies also signed on.

Download this pdf to read the letter and see the list of all the societies that signed on.

Original Certificates of Birth for Adoptees: New York

The three-year push to open original certificates of birth to adoptees developed momentum this year in other states. New York's bills S3419 and AS494 were signed into law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo on 4 November 2019. For more coverage, click here. New York became the tenth state to pass an act covering this issue.

Reclaim the Records Posts the NYC Geographic Birth Index

On 26 October 2019, Reclaim the Records introduced the Geographic Birth Index. This record set is an index to all births in New York City from roughly 1880 to 1912. Unlike a typical birth index arranged by names, this is arranged by addresses, the exact actual street address. For more information, click here.

US Census 2020

Advocating for an Accurate Count

Genealogists love censuses. We look to them for accurate information about our ancestors. And we eagerly await our own chance to enter data for coming generations. Click on this button to access the US government's 2020 census site. Learn the ins and outs of census taking.

In 2020, just as in 1940, the first count was made in Alaska. This photograph from the Frank Delano Roosevelt Presidential Library is a posed publicity shot to mark the first census entry in 1940 in Fairbanks, Alaska.


Linda B. MacIver

Our Federal Civil Records Director, Linda MacIver, has a Master in Educational Media (M. Ed.) from Boston University and a Master of Science (M.L.I.S.) focused in Library and Information Science from Simmons College Graduate School. She worked for nearly 27 years at the Boston Public Library before retiring to volunteer with MGC. Right now she is combining past teaching experience with scholastic background in local history and genealogy to bring genealogy courses and lectures to public libraries and genealogy societies across the greater Boston metro area. For us, she keeps a close watch on Federal Records.