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Records Access Was a Topic at IAJGS 2013 in Boston

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 IAJGS 003

Jan Meisels Allen discusses PRAMC activities.
Photograph by Barbara Mathews.


Early in August Boston had the honor of hosting the annual convention of the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies. The Park Plaza was abuzz for a full week of presentations, an exhibit hall, and cultural events. Many MGC officers and members attended. I was there on Monday for a presentation of IAJGS's Public Records Access and Monitoring Committee (PRAMC) given in conjuction with the Records Access and Preservation Committee here in the U.S.. Jan Meisels Allan, Kenneth Ryesky, and Janet Alpert presented the well-attended Monday session.

There was a lot of material to cover. PRAMC looks at records access issues internationally. The European Union is considering a General Data Protection Plan. Among the types of data considered for protection are the materials that genealogists commonly access. People would be required to opt-in to having their information accessed in the future. The protection plan implements a concept called "the right to be forgotten." PRAMC discussed what genealogists, historians, EU residents, and others can consider doing to make their points-of-view known.

Other important topics included the U.S. access issues we been facing over the past few years, from efforts to implement the long-term records closures in the 2011 Model Act to federal legislation to kill the Social Security Death Index (see Judy Russell's blog post in the Legal Genealogist), it has certainly been an active year.

For more information about PRAMC and their email alert list, please consult the handout from the session, available here.

That evening, MGC's Civil Records Committee hosted panel members for dinner. Over great take-out kosher food from Jerusalem Pita (I recommend that hummous and pita), we exchanged information about our favorite strategies and methods. It might have been the end of a long day, but we were invigorated by the meal and fellowship. Thank you to Jan, Janet, and Kenneth for all your hard work!


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Barbara serves as the Federal Records Director. She is a Board-certified genealogist who works for the Massachusetts Society of the Colonial Dames of America as a Verifying Genealogist and for the Welles Family Association as a Genealogist. Her volunteer service includes a stint as President of MGC. She holds a master’s degree in the management of non-profits from the Florence Heller School at Brandeis University. You can read her own blog, The Demanding Genealogist, at


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