PAHR Update

Our website has been updated and moved to the simpler webdress of www.pahr-access.org and our new edress is pahraccess@ptd.net.

Now that SB-361 is the law the original state death certificates 1906-1961 and birth certificates 1906 are available to the general public at the State Archives in Harrisburg. Indices for them are available online through the PA Dept of Health website (the link to them is on our website under Vital Records Currently Available Online). The indexes are rather crude and contain minimal information, but they are better than nothing (at least for now).

We are still pushing for the records to be made available online which can be done at no cost to the taxpayer. Having the records put into a searchable database would make searching for the right record considerably easier and having them online would make these records vastly more accessible to all. However, this will not happen automatically and we’ve already heard contradictory stories about what will be done. So we have to be vigilant to avoid the very real possibility of foot dragging and empty promises.  This is discussed in detail on our website.

Thank you for all your help and support.

Tim Gruber

People for Better Pennsylvania Historical Records Access (PaHR-Access)

Genealogists Researchers Family Historians

We are asking for your help in a grassroots effort to make sure older Pennsylvania state birth and death certificates are made available online

We were quite successful in changing Pennsylvania law to allow state death certificates more than 50 years old and birth certificates more than 105 years old to become open records (currently that means from 1906-1962 and 1906-1907 respectively). They will also be transferred to the State Archives. Now that they can legally be put online we want to make sure the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania does all it can to put them online as has been done in 17 states so far. In other words we do not want foot dragging or empty promises.

While it is great that the records will be transferred to the Pennsylvania State Achieves, putting the records in an online database and using a search engine would make it possible to search through these records in a way that is light years away from manually searching the numerous by year by county indexes and manually retrieving each record at the State Archives.

We need everyone (including out-of-state residents) to write, email, call or visit Governor Tom Corbett's office to keep up the pressure. While there should be no reason to contact any of the state legislators letting the state legislators and the Governor know that the State Archives should be appropriately funded in general rather than underfunded as it is now could help the situation. Naturally the more letters and other forms of contact that are made and the more people involved the better.

Contact information, FAQ, sample letters, forms, links and considerably more information can be found at: users.rcn.com/timarg/PaHR-Access (or Google “PaHR-Access”)


If you have any questions please contact the spokesperson for PaHR-Access:

Tim Gruber 610-791-9294ortimarg@rcn.com

PLEASE READ...........................

State birth and death certificates

Good news in reference to getting better access to older Pennsylvania state birth and death certificates. On November 15th, 2011 Vital Records Bill SB-361 was unanimously passed by the House Health Committee. It is now in the House Appropriations Committee. We don't know if and when it will come up for a vote that is decided by Majority Chairman William Adolph. We would like the bill to be voted on this year before they are tied up with next year's budget fight in January. Everyone should encourage the chairman and the other members of the committee to pass SB-361 as quickly as possible. In addition to any of the committee members you are willing to contact please contact your own state representative about supporting SB-361 if even if they are not on this committee. The whole situation is discussed in detail in the December 5th, 2011 article under The Latest Newssection of our website: http://users.rcn.com/timarg/PaHR-Access.htm (includes a sample letter for this bill to this committee).

As a reminder Vital Records Bill SB-361 is simple in that it just makes death certificates over 50 years old and birth certificates over 105 years old in Pennsylvania open records. It also requires the records be handed over to the Pennsylvania State Archives. This will cost the Commonwealth nothing to implement. Once the bill becomes law it would be then possible to have the records online. Without this change in the law the records will remain very restricted forever.

We need everyone to encourage SB-361 be passed by the committee as soon as possible. Visits, phone calls, letters are the most effective, but even a one paragraph email sent to at least one state representative is better than nothing. Hearing from organizations especially within their districts, constituents and others (including out of state residents) could prove decisive in getting SB-361 passed by the Appropriations Committee of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives hopefully this month yet.

Thank you for your

Death Certificates-Vital Records

Pennsylvania Department of Health Division of Vital Records provides information on acquiring birth and death certificates.

For more information visit Pennsylvania Department of Health Website.