Public comments for: Amendment of General Vital Statistics Provisions (Article 207 of the NYC Health Code)

Comments

Comment:
As so many have commented, having access to records for NYC available for genealogical purposes is convenient and a "requirement" for those of us still struggling with details of our families. While I have found many records available, i still have a long way to go to complete the process of identifying several births and marriages from the mid 1800's.I can't imagine a worse plan to thwart people in their search for family history. PLEASE do all that you can to insure that our records stay open and accessible, so that families can savor the connections to the past that this resource brings to us all.
Agency: DOHMH
Comment:
While I understand the City's need to ensure the safety of its records, in so doing it should not cripple the availability of said records to those endeavouring to explore their family's genealogy or to further learn about their family's medical history. So far I have been fortunate to be a direct descendant but as I spread out looking for relatives who married into my family or other family members who are not direct descendants I should have options to obtain these records too. As I noted someone earlier suggested perhaps a stamp across the non-direct family could have a large stamp stating for genealogy purposes only. I appreciate the fact that I have been able to obtain so much information about my family from the NYC records. I have both confirmed old family stories and learned many new things, such as specific medical issues seem to run in the family. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to comment.
Agency: DOHMH
Comment:
have been researching my family for about 20yrs & still have a few roadblocks which could be solved by access to birth & death records.......extending the time frame only worsened this problem.....the proposed amendment would possibly help, but even better would be a special category for researchers & family history buffs like the state of ny has - simply mark the document as an unofficial copy - for research purposes.
Agency: DOHMH
Comment:
I fail to understand the necessity of making family records virtually inaccessible to researchers. The primary goal is to accurately research and document known information on one's lineage. This cannot be accomplished if vital records are kept from the researcher for an unreasonable amount of time. Vital records are mandatory for proving or disproving a relationship to the researcher. How can this be accomplished if the records are denied? Many researchers will be gone by the time the documents become available, thereby preventing the researcher from accomplishing his/her goal. Included in these documents could be family health and medical information needed to determine genetic illnesses that are inclusive in a particular line. If NYC is doing this to "protect" individuals' privacy in these documents, who are they protecting? The individuals have long since passed and have no vested interest in these documents. Let us be realistic and use some common sense here. I applaud the proposed amendment for extended family access, but let us not make it more difficult to access these records by extending the timeframe of when they can be. Family researchers are writing their histories and they need to view documents that add to this history, not be kept from it.
Agency: DOHMH
Comment:
Recently retired, I am currently working on the genealogy for my family. We have lived in NYC for generations and it is incredibly important that I have access to documents in the NYC Vital records to lend credibility to this research. PLEASE ensure in the upcoming amendment that family members have access to birth, death, marriage and other important records. At this time, I expect to be able to demonstrate that one branch of the family goes back to 1700 America, enabling me and my descendants "DAR" status. But records need to be presented to validate this claim. The current "rule" disallows my "deeper" research. Thank you for your consideration of this earnest request. Pat Shea-Bischoff, PhD
Agency: DOHMH
Comment:
Some of my and my wife's direct ancestors and their relatives came thru NYC and upstate NY. We regularly find ourselves researching NY and NYC records for information about them, trying to find data that offer good proof of relationships. Like others, we know and often find that NY records are vital to proving these relationships. We have also helped friends in experienced in genealogical research to find more about their ancestors and relatives - as a hobby, with no pay involved. We greatly value our access to old written records wherever they lie, not just in NY but certainly very importantly including NY and NYC. We use Ancestry.com and their New York records almost every day, sometimes spending all day researching one issue. New York, as a gateway to the entire U.S., is one of the richest sources of old written records. We earnestly hope that it can stay that way!
Agency: DOHMH
Comment:
I would like to express my opinion that the amendment be passed. The family chain now is longer than immediate families.
Agency: DOHMH
Comment:
I appreciate the consideration to add the new proposed guidelines to the vital records access. This is a great step and am in support of the amendments. I hope the board considers extending the guidelines to create an additional category, Researcher, which would allow persons who are not necessarily family members to conduct scholarly research on certain locations, immigrant groups, etc. Thank you, Karen Ramon
Agency: DOHMH
Comment:
The Proposed Amendment to Article 207 of the NYC Health Code to expand access to vital records will not permit most family researchers to obtain records. The modern-day researcher is often more removed than four generations from the people studied and would still be precluded from obtaining records even with the Proposed Amendment. Other towns, counties, and states publish vital records online. New York City has moved in the opposite direction by restricting these records with Article 207 and the Proposed Amendment does little to support research of family and local history.
Agency: DOHMH
Comment:
We applaud the efforts of the NYCDOHAMH to expand the range of those to whom copies of birth and death records would be accessible. The newly established categories will help many individual genealogists access these important records. However, these expansions still unnecessarily limit the ability for individuals to access these records for research purposes. A researcher often needs to view the information on an individual’s birth or death record before being able to correctly assert their relationship to that individual. Genealogists are frequently beset by research questions that involve individuals with extremely common names, inconsistencies in biographical details, and other hurdles that make a identifying a specific familial relationship difficult – if not impossible – to determine without access to birth and death records. Furthermore, the categories exclude important familial elements that are becoming more prevalent today and will continue to do so over the next 125 years. The reality of New York’s families today and in the immediate past is incongruent with the traditional approach proposed by the NYCDOHAMH. For example, the exclusion of step-relationships from the list discriminates against thousands of families living in NYC today. These omissions, alongside the inability for adoptees to access information regarding their family history, create an unfair barrier to access. While an individual genealogist might focus on their specific family, this is not the only use of these materials for genealogical and historical research. The greatly expanded time periods(which are now amongst the most restrictive in the nation)prohibit local and family historians from studying an incredibly large number of topics, such as: --Members of a community who served in WWII, the Korean Conflict, or the Vietnam War(as records pertaining to most WWII veterans fall within of the new timeframes). The stories of these heroic men and women, who sacrificed their --lives for our freedom, will remain hidden for up to a century. --Survivors of the Holocaust, as the records of family members who escaped to New York in the 1940s are now inaccessible to researchers until the mid-21st century. --Biographical, genealogical, and cultural studies of any immigrant communities and their impact on NYC throughout the 20th century. --Those seeking research into family health history, as applicable information is needed from third and fourth cousins, categories not covered under the proposed expansions. Therefore we ask that the Department of Health create an additional category for access – Researcher – that specifically allows researchers to access these records. The creation of this category would help to resolve the situations outlined above. This level of access could still require an appropriate level of identification(such as a drivers license,passport,or state ID)and clarify an individual’s purpose in requesting a specific record.
Agency: DOHMH

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