Expanded Access to Pennsylvania Vital Records

The following excerpt is from the February 15, 2012 edition of Berksmontnews.com:

… the public may now access birth and death records online and in person for free at the Pennsylvania State Archives thanks to a new law, according to state Sen. Judy Schwank.

“This is good news for families who are seeking information about their loved ones and for researchers who are looking to learn more about their communities,” Schwank said. “The new law will make it more convenient to search the state’s archives for this important information.”

Under the new law, the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission and the Department of Health are expanding public access to birth and death certificates. Birth certificates are now available to the public 105 years after issuance and death certificates are available 50 years after issuance. This means that births from 1906 and deaths from 1906 to 1961 are available, and one year of births and deaths will be added each year from now on. Records prior to 1906 are held at the county level.

To access the records, visit www.health.state.pa.us and click on the “Birth and Death Certificates” link, or visit the State Archives at 350 North St. in Harrisburg. Researchers would need to know the year of the event, the correct spelling of the name they are searching for, and/or the county of the birth or death.

Read the full article.

For more detailed information, check out the Genealogy – Vital Records web page found at the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission site.

Author: Leland Meitzler

Leland K. Meitzler founded Heritage Quest in 1985, and has worked as Managing Editor of both Heritage Quest Magazine and The Genealogical Helper. He currently operates Family Roots Publishing Company (www.FamilyRootsPublishing.com), writes daily at GenealogyBlog.com, writes the weekly Genealogy Newsline, conducts the annual Salt Lake Christmas Tour to the Family History Library, and speaks nationally, having given over 2000 lectures since 1983.

1 thought on “Expanded Access to Pennsylvania Vital Records”

  1. On December 15, 2011, Governor Tom Corbett approved Senate Bill 361.

    This bill amends the Act of June 29, 1953 (P.L. 304, No. 66), known as the Vital Statistics Law of 1953, to provide for public access to certain birth and death certificates after a fixed amount of time has passed. This legislation provides that such documents become public records 105 years after the date of birth or 50 years after the date of death.

    Pennsylvania law protects and restricts the release of vital records; as such, vital records are not public records and cannot be searched online.

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