Posted by: Janette Silverman | August 29, 2012

Pennsylvania Birth and Death Records Available On-Line

One of the success stories for records access last year was Pennsylvania–Pennsylvania Vital Records Bill SB-361 was signed into law as Act 110 of 2011 on December 15th, 2011 and went into effect on Feb 13th, 2012.  It makes death certificates over 50 years old and birth certificates over 105 years old open records. Another provision was to transfer the certificates to the Pennsylvania State Archives once they become open records–all deaths certificates from 1906 to 1961 and birth certificates from 1906. As each year goes by another year’s worth of birth and death certificates would become open records.
To achieve the goal of the records available online, the State Archives recently signed a contract with Ancestry.com to have the records scanned and made available online. The process started on August 27 with the earliest records -1906 records starting to be transported to the Ancestry.com site in Maryland. After each year is complete it is expected the records will be placed online and data extracted. The whole process is expected to take 18 months and as each batch of records is scanned that particular patch will not be available to patrons.  The contract gives exclusive online access to Ancestry for three years after which the database will be moved to the Pennsylvania State Archives website where it will be free to all. However,  the contract does require that Pennsylvania residents have free access to this particular database on Ancestry. Many libraries and research centers everywhere provide free access to Ancestry.
The data to be extracted includes: dates of birth and death, parents’ names including the mother’s maiden name and hopefully the place of birth.
At this time I do not know when the records will be available on Ancestry.  The information is from PaHR the People for Pennsylvania Historical Records Access, the group that was behind the legislation and led the “fight” for access to records for several years.
For more information go to: http://home.ptd.net/~timarg/PaHR-Access-FAQ.htm and scroll down to ” When Will the Records Be Available Online”.
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