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Kimberly Powell

Pennsylvania Governor Corbett Signs Bill Loosening Restrictions on Vital Records Access

By December 15, 2011

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Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett signed Senate Bill 361 into law today, amending a 1953 Vital Statistics Law (P.L. 304, No. 66) to finally provide for public access to Pennsylvania birth and death certificates 105 years after the date of birth or 50 years after the date of death. The historic birth and death records (currently birth records from 1906 and 1907 and death records from 1906 to 1961) will be maintained by the State Archives. Pre-1906 birth and death records are already open and available at the county level.  The amended Vital Records act will go into effect in 60 days (February 14, 2012).

This has been a long drawn-out battle for public access to historic PA vital records, led in large part in recent years by a grassroots organization formed expressly for this purpose - People for Better Pennsylvania Historical Records Access (PaHR-Access). I would like to say a BIG thank you to everyone who worked so tirelessly to achieve this important milestone.

December 31, 2011 at 9:29 pm
(1) Philly JoJo says:

Our state [Pennsylvania] tends to be one of the most regressive states when it comes to certain policies. It isn’t for protection but tends toward dull conservatism. Laws in general are stuck back in the 1910s and haven’t hit the roaring 20s yet. We are still fighting over State Liquor Stores. They worry about the ‘brain drain’ from the state of the brightest and the best but never bother to ask themselves why on earth a bright young 20 year old would want to live here. On the bright side, it makes for easy Genealogy because you have very little new blood moving in. The same names I find in the Census of 1790 and the list of Squatters in Indian land in the 1740s are the same exact names I went to school with with about the same property lines.

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