I think most of our U.S. readers are familiar with the Records Preservation and Access Committee (RPAC), a joint committee of the Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS), the National Genealogical Society (NGS), the Association of Professional Genealogists (APG), the Board for Certification of Genealogists (BCG), and the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies (IAJGS). The mission statement for the committess says that their purpose is “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 committee has been on the forefront of protecting our access to the records we use in our family history research and because they represent hundreds of genealogical societies, which in turn may have hundreds or thousands of members, their collective voice represents millions.
RPAC has developed a tri-fold brochure with “The Case for Open Public Records” and is encouraging societies to help them distribute the pamphlet. It lists the benefits of researching family history, addresses myths and misperceptions that sometimes lead to the closure of records, the access we need to records, facts about the reach family history has, and more about the committee. There are also links to helpful websites with more information on preservation and access.
If you get word of possible closures to public access, the RPAC website should be your first step. The committee has set up a network of state liaisons that can communicate your concerns to the committee and help determine what other steps are necessary. It’s very important to go through this committee, because although well-intentioned, knee-jerk reactions to these types of issues can sometimes do more harm than good.
Visit the FGS website and the RPACÂ website for more information on this important committee and the work they do in protecting our access to the records of our ancestors. Click here to see the brochure.