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Model Letter

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Re:  A1390 – Establishes guidelines for dissemination of vital records.

Position:  Support if Amended


Dear (insert appropriate Assemblyman/woman’s name):


Note: If you are a constituent of the legislator you are writing, include that in the first paragraph- such as I reside/work in XXX, New Jersey and you are my state assembly representative.


This letter is to express my concern regarding Assembly Bill 1390, (of which you are a sponsor) or (which will be introduced in general session in the near future).  We, in the genealogical community, are concerned about its impact as currently drafted.  While I support the intent to protect the residents of New Jersey from improper usage of their personal information, I am worried that the current language in the bill states that vital records would no longer be considered public records.  This would prevent my and other genealogists’ access to vital records, which are critical to tracing family history.


I respectfully suggest two important amendments to accommodate the legitimate interests of family researchers and historians that have been proposed by the Genealogical Society of New Jersey.  The first, a proposed addition to subsection 3(b) – subsection (5), is as follows:


"(5) informational or non-certified copies of vital records to anyone after 80 years have elapsed in the case of birth records and 50 years have elapsed in the case of marriage records and 40 years in the case of death records."


As genealogists and historians, we need to retain the ability to acquire informational copies of vital records, including but not limited to birth, marriage and death records.  These copies contain all the data but do not have a state seal, thereby excluding their use for identification purposes.  This is in agreement with current procedures (NJAC 8:2 and NJAC 8:2a-b) followed by the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services. 


I must express serious reservations regarding the portion of the bill restricting dissemination of information derived from vital records.  Sharing information is an integral part of any serious research, including genealogy and family history.  Writing a book, article, or other scholarly treatise – whether a family history, biography, or genealogy – necessarily entails sharing and disclosing information legally obtained.  Restricting, penalizing, or criminalizing sharing of information contained in vital records fundamentally undermines the public’s right of access.  Therefore, I advocate deleting section 4(d)(2)(c) from the proposed bill in its entirety.


I respectfully encourage you to amend A1390 with the above-suggested language. 


Thank you for your consideration.


Respectfully submitted,



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