08 February 2012

Act Now to Avoid Restrictions on Access to SSDI

The genealogical community needs your help now! The Social Security Death Index is in peril.

The press release below was released yesterday. Please visit http://wh.gov/khE and sign the petition. If you don’t have an account at WhiteHouse.gov, see the instructions at http://fgs.org/pdf/rpac_petition.pdf (opens in PDF). Also please pass this information on to your friends, family, fellow genealogists and society members. We need 25,000 votes by March 8, 2012 in order to have our petition reviewed by the White House.

For Immediate Release
February 7, 2012
Genealogy Community Responds To Efforts To Remove Access to Social Security Death Index and Other Records
February 7, 2012– Austin, TX: The Records Preservation & Access Committee (RPAC) – a joint coalition of international genealogical societies representing millions of genealogists and family historians – announces the launch of its Stop ID Theft NOW! campaign with its We The People petition posted at WhiteHouse.gov.
Call To Action For IRS To Do Its Job
Each year, fraudulent tax refund claims based upon identity theft from recently deceased infants and adults are filed with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The current target is the Social Security Death Index (SSDI) or Death Master File since this file, as found on numerous genealogy-oriented websites, could possibly be the source of identity thieves acquiring a deceased person’s Social Security number.
The IRS could close the door to this form of identity theft if, in fact, it were to use the Death Master File for the purpose for which it was created: to reduce fraud. If returns claiming a tax refund were screened against the Master Death File and matching cases identified for special processing, the thief should receive a rejection notice for the filing.
Tax Fraud and Identity Theft: Genealogists Are Not To Blame
The House Ways and Means Committee Subcommittee on Social Security is proposing to completely shut down use of the SSDI by genealogists as well as other industries such as banking and insurance that rely upon its information. Such an attempt is short-sighted and runs counter to the original purpose of the SSDI: to actually combat fraud.
Loss of Access to SSDI Affects More Than Genealogists
The SSDI is accessed by many different companies, non-profits and other entities besides individuals researching their family history. Forensic specialists utilize the SSDI when reuniting remains of military veterans with their next-of-kin and descendants. Law offices, banks and insurance companies utilize the SSDI to resolve probate cases and to locate heirs.
All of these entities would be required to spend more money and more time leveraging other resources of information when the SSDI has served this purpose, uninterrupted, for over a decade.
RPAC Petitions Obama Administration
The We the People petition, now posted at http://wh.gov/khE and accepting signatures, has a simple yet effective mission:
Take immediate steps that would curtail the filing of fraudulent tax refund claims based upon identity theft from recently deceased infants and adults.
No need for lengthy hearings in front of a Congressional committee. No need for filing statements for or against any House action. No need to waste time and effort which could be directed to more pressing national  issues. In fact, the National Taxpayer Advocate in 2011 issued suggestions which do not require additional legislation but can be implemented collaboratively between the IRS and Social Security Administration (SSA) almost immediately in time to impact the current tax filing season.
About Records Preservation & Access Committee (RPAC)
The Records Preservation & Access Committee (RPAC) was formed to advise the genealogical community on ensuring proper access to historical records of genealogical value in whatever media they are recorded, on  means to affect legislation, and on supporting strong records preservation policies and practices.
The genealogical community works together through The Records Preservation and Access Committee (RPAC), which today includes The National Genealogical Society (NGS), the Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) and the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies (IAJGS) as voting members. The Association of Professional Genealogists (APG), the Board for Certification of Genealogists (BCG), the American Society of Genealogists (ASG), ProQuest and Ancestry.com serve as participating members.
To learn more visit http://www.fgs.org/rpac/.
Contact: RPAC
c/o Federation of Genealogical Societies
PO Box 200940
Austin, TX 78720-0940
phone: +1 (888) 347-1500
fax: +1 (866) 347-1350

03 February 2012

Feb 13, 2012--Pennsylvania Vital Records Become More Accessible

Many residents of Northeastern Ohio--like me--have ancestors who were born and/or died in Pennsylvania. Compared to Ohio, accessing birth and death records for ancestors in Pennsylvania has been something of a problem.

There's light at the end of the tunnel in this situation. When Pennsylvania Vital Records Bill SB-361 (Act 110 of 2011) goes into effect law on February 13th, 2012 it will make death certificates over 50 years old and birth certificates over 105 years old OPEN records. It will also transfer certificates to the Pennsylvania State Archives once they become open records.

This means that researchers will have access to these records at one place: the Pennsylvania State Archives. No longer will it be necessary to traipse across Pennsylvania to county records offices to obtain these records.

If you want to study up on this developing situation, go to the website for People for Better Pennsylvania Historical Records Access or PaHR-Access.

You might also want to go to the FAQs page where more detail is provided.

02 February 2012

More Czech and Slovak Research Guidance

Yesterday, I posted information about the Czech/Slovak Research seminar being presented by John Sabol at Western Reserve Historical Society on March 31. Complete details are available at www.wrhs.org or click here.

Today, I was reminded that the Cuyahoga Valley Genealogical Society is going to have a presentation by Cynthia Smith entitled "Prague to Cleveland." In this presentation, Ms. Smith focuses on the Czech people who settled in the Cleveland area during the late 19thand early 20th centuries. She explores the areas they settled in and their faith communities. This event is on Mar 5, 2012 - 7:30 PM - 9:30 PM in the  Willow Room at the Independence Civic Center, Independence, Ohio 44131. Click here for info.

Also, the Ohio Genealogical Society 2012 Conference in Cleveland will feature "Demystifying Eastern European Research," by noted lecturer and author, Lisa A. Alzo. She will address the the special challenges and frustrations involved in tracing their ancestors back to Eastern Europe. She will talk about the most common myths and misconceptions and how to work around them. Lisa is the author of "Three Slovak Women." The OGS Conference will be held Apr. 12-14 at the Hotel Intercontinental on the campus of the Cleveland Clinic, with Lisa's presentation on Friday, Apr. 13. Lisa has a website at http://www.lisaalzo.com/. For complete details on the OGS conference, go to www.ogs.org and click on The Registration Brochure. Or click here.

01 February 2012

Learning Opportunity: Finding Your Czech/Slovak Roots Coming on March 31.

An all-day seminar for family history researchers with Czech and Slovak ancestry is being sponsored on Saturday, Mar 31, 2012 by the Genealogical Committee, an auxiliary of the Western Reserve Historical Society. It will be held in the Norton Gallery of the Society's History Center at 10825 East Boulevard, Cleveland, Ohio 4410.

Seminar leader will be John T. Sabol, who will discuss research methods he has used to find his roots, which are both Czech and Slovak. A Cleveland native, writer, and historian, Sobol has written three books plus several church histories and genealogical articles. He serves on the Board of Directors for the Czechoslovak Genealogical Society International.

The morning session will consist of two presentations stressing the ultimate goal of finding the locations in the Czech and Slovak Republics where your ancestors came from. Since research in these countries is village-based it is of central importance to know your ancestral village. Once this is known, it opens doors to a number of research avenues.

The afternoon session consists of roundtable discussions about finding your ancestral village. Participants will be able to share their successes and failures in hopes of learning from each other.  Roundtable participants are urged to bring documentation or clues regarding their ancestral origins in the Czech and Slovak Republics. Each discussion group will be moderated by a volunteer from the  Czechoslovak Genealogical Society International (CGSI).

For more information, access the detailed flyer with a registration form by clicking here