Time Provisions of Pennsylvania’s Coroner’s Act Argued Before the State’s Supreme Court

Genealogists have long used coroners’ records to fill out our family histories. These records are what we call “public records,” making them available to researchers as well as the media, and anyone else for that matter. Since most of the records we’re looking for are old, I’d never considered the issue that recently came up in Pennsylvania. Following is an excerpt from an article in the May 21, 2012 edition of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

The state Supreme Court heard oral arguments this month in Harrisburg in the appeal of a media company that was prohibited from immediately looking at a coroner’s autopsy report to find out the manner in which a Pennsylvania college student died.

At issue was whether there is a conflict between the Right-to-Know Law and the Pennsylvania Coroner’s Act, which says manner-of-death records only become public 30 days after the end of the year in which the person died.

According to the high court’s grant of allocatur, it will look at whether the Commonwealth Court used a new, more lenient standard of “inconsistency” when determining if statutory provisions conflict, rather than the stricter “irreconcilable” standard required by the Statutory Construction Act.

All parties in the case agreed the records were public — it was just a matter of when they are required to be disclosed.

Read the full article.

Records Posted from Belgium, England, Nicaragua, Peru, Russia, USA, & Mexico at FamilySearch.org

Mexico Collections Account for 6 Million of 8 Million New Images
New Records From Belgium, England, Nicaragua, Peru, Russia

23 August 2011 – Along with six million images added to Mexico collections at FamilySearch.org this week, additions were made to collections from six other countries. Browse through newly–added parish register records from Belgium and England, or the new collection of church book records from Russia. Additionally, new records from eight U.S. states: Maryland, Montana, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee, Vermont, and Virginia, are now available at FamilySearch.org.

FamilySearch International is the largest genealogy organization in the world. FamilySearch is a nonprofit, volunteer–driven organization sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter–day Saints. Millions of people use FamilySearch records, resources, and services to learn more about their family history. To help in this great pursuit, FamilySearch has been actively gathering, preserving, and sharing genealogical records worldwide for over 100 years. Patrons may access FamilySearch services and resources free online at FamilySearch.org or through over 4,600 family history centers in 132 countries, including the main Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Collection – Records – Images – Comments

89,000 Marin County Coroners’ Cases Transferred to the County Library’s California Room

Coroners’ records are an invaluable source of information for genealogists. Now we read that the Marin County, California Coroners’ records are being transferred to the public library, where plans are underway to create a searchable database.

Since 1850, Marin’s coroners have documented thousands of death investigations throughout the county — pistol shootings, The Coroner's Inquests book number 1 rests on a table in the California Room of the Marin County Civic Center library on Wednesday, December 29, 2010. The earliest record in the book is from coroner's case number 1 in 1850. (IJ photo/Alan Dep) Alan Depdrownings, railroad accidents, the occasional poisoning. One man’s demise, in Tomales in 1859, was attributed to “bad whisky.”

With the independent coroner’s office passing into extinction this weekend, the files on more than 89,000 coroners’ cases – many handwritten in pen and ink on parchment — have been transferred to the county library’s Anne T. Kent California Room, a rich repository of local historical documents, and the nonprofit Marin County Genealogical Society.

Laurie Thompson, the California Room’s librarian, is embarking on a project to create a searchable database of the vast coroners’ archives, with help from Genealogical Society volunteers.

Read the full article by Gary Klien in the January 1, 2011 edition of the Marin Independent Journal.