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  • Writer's pictureBarbara Mathews

The Value of Open Public Records

Updated: Feb 3, 2020

Posted by Sharon Sergeant, MGC Vice President, on 25 October 2015.

The program is free, registration is not required. Attendees are encouraged to express their opinions and concerns in this open forum for discussion.

Sharon Sergeant, MGC Vice President, will moderate a multidisciplinary panel of experts and attendees to discuss how open public records benefit our society and citizens in practical applications today.

Massachusetts was an early adopter of open public records: From the Body of Liberties, Approved by the Massachusetts Bay Colony General Court in 1639 and published in 1641.

We will discuss how open public records benefit our society and citizens, ensuring that all laws and regulations are followed to protect civil rights, inheritance and property rights, historical and medical research advancement, records preservation and access as well as the repatriation of remains for fallen soldiers. Open public records provides citizens, legislators, journalists, attorneys, scholars, archivists, librarians and individual citizens with information needed to honor and maintain our democracy.


Robert Ambrogi, is an attorney specializing in the intersection of law, media and technology. Internationally known for his editing, writing and blogging, he is the Executive Director, Massachusetts Newspaper Publishers Association and frequently testifies on open records and open meetings issues.

Melinde Lutz Byrne is an author, editor, genealogist, Boston University CPE Program Director, Cohen Center Fellow, a trained forensic facial reconstruction artist, a Fellow of the American Society of Genealogists (FASG) and Certified Genealogist (CG) by the Board for Certification of Genealogists. She writes and testifies on local and national open records value.

Leah McGrath Goodman is an award winning author, historian, international investigative journalist, finance editor for Newsweek magazine. She testified about open records access issues at the 2015 U. S. Congressional hearings and has written about money, politics and culture for Fortune, The Financial Times, Barron’s, The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, Marie Claire, Forbes and Institutional Investor.

Last modified on Thursday, 29 October 2015


Elizabeth Handler Saturday, 18 February 2012

I’m following this issue closely. I have emailed Rep. Stephen Lynch and both Senators Kerry and Brown. I will telephone once I see (or put together myself) a few pertinent and clear talking points that don’t all necessarily have to do with genealogy.

As an FYI, with regards to your statement:

“Parents may want to question the advisability of obtaining numbers for newborns, a practice that was encouraged starting in the 1980s. The United States forbids national identity requirements, and SSNs are not needed until used for employment and tax purposes. In addition, the Social Security card itself requires a signature, which means that parents are holding on to unsigned cards for fifteen or more years”

Social Security numbers are required by the IRS the first year you file taxes after your child is born, in order to claim that child as a dependent. Tax laws have been this way since at least 1995 (when I first had to claim my oldest child).

Thank you for all you’re doing to keep us informed.

Amy Dunn Wednesday, 15 February 2012

I know we can normally contact most members of Congress via internet form, fax, or letter. A field for Senator Paul, has said that anyone can send a letter to her email about the SSDI and she will forward it to Senator Paul of Kentucky. The email is

Just offering the tip if anyone is interested.

Paul E. Cobb Sunday, 12 February 2012

I agree with the posting and access for SSDI records and free as it had been available. Checking out the RPAC website to stay current.

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