The Great Seal of the State of IowaThis is a repost from ancestryinsider.org.  The original post can be found HERE

No, I am not about to rehash what today’s news is telling us about Iowa and political PACs. Instead, I thought this was a good opportunity to talk about RPAC and the availability of Iowa’s vital records.

RPAC is the Records Preservation and Access Committee, a joint committee of the Federation of Genealogical Societies, the National Genealogical Society, the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies and other participants. One aspect of RPAC’s mission is to advise the genealogical community about legislation and laws affecting access to public records with genealogical value.

My understanding is, RPAC’s non-profit status precludes it from actively lobbying governments. They inform. Action is up to us.

That said, RPAC advises against acting out of panic. We don’t want to “exacerbate otherwise negotiable issues.”

One of the publications of RPAC is an executive white paper titled “Open Access to Public Records: a Genealogical Perspective.” It includes a table listing state-by-state availability of vital records. Here’s the entry for Iowa (current as of 18 December 2009):

State Record Type Year Begins Access (Closed, Open, Restricted) Years Restricted Copy for Genealogical Purposes Statute Notes
Iowa Birth 1880 Restricted 75 Special access permits given to genealogists 144.43 Out-of-wedlock, fetal death and adoptive birth records closed
Marriage 1880 Restricted 75 144.43
Divorce Restricted 75 144.43
Death 1880 Restricted 75 144.43
Adoption Closed

If I understand the publication correctly, RPAC recommends restricting birth records for 100 years, deaths for 25 years, and providing open access to marriage and divorce records.

According to the white paper, Iowa restricts access of all vital records to 75 years. Is that still the case? Any truth to the rumor that the department of health is imposing a more stringent policy? If you have experience researching in Iowa, I’d like to confirm or put this rumor to bed.

If you live in Iowa and want more access to vital records, contact your state legislators and let your vote be heard.

For more information, visit the RPAC website at http://www.fgs.org/rpac .

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