National Genealogical Society

About NGS

Records and Preservation Access Committee

Who We Are

The mission of the Records Preservation and Access Committee, a joint committee of the National Genealogical Society and the Federation of Genealogical Societies, 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 effect legislation and on supporting strong records preservation policies and practices.

The Committee's most immediate task is to develop a cohesive and coherent long-term strategy to deal with records preservation and access issues at all levels, from local to national. Most of the effort currently expended on such issues is in reaction to specific threats to records access (people do not get as excited about preservation!). The strategy being developed is intended to get us out ahead of the curve, so that potential problems may be identified and resolved before they become issues.

Even while the strategy for preservation and access is being developed, challenges to records access continue. During 1996-1997, the Committee dealt with Canadian Copyright Law (broader access resulted), a Treaty on Intellectual Property in Respect of Databases (it died without action), the National Archives and Records Administration Strategic Plan (poses no immediate threat to genealogy), and Immigration and Naturalization Service copies of naturalization records (no current threat of destruction). Members of the Committee have been actively engaged in legislative actions in California, Arizona, and Wisconsin. Many other actions involving local situations have been resolved.

A second major task of the RP&A Committee is communications. While the FGS Forum is an excellent vehicle for providing preservation and access information to the genealogical community as a whole, a mechanism for sharing timely information on issues and actions among those working on preservation and access is badly needed. The committee is therefore developing a network of Records Preservation and Access Liaison Persons in every state. If your state has not yet appointed such a person, we encourage you to urge your state society to do so quickly.

Presentation and access to historical records is one of the most urgent concerns within the genealogical community. Every indicator confirms that this concern is justified and that the challenges are growing. The challenges are both local and national, and even local challenges often have national implications. The Records Preservation and Access Committee is committed to addressing these challenges in an intentional, informed, coordinated, and rational manner and solicits the cooperation and support of all genealogists in doing so.

Download RPAC Brochure (PDF 498KB)

Questions? Contact NGS at ngs@ngsgenealogy.org.   

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