On December 15, 2011, Governor Tom Corbett of
approved Senate Bill 361. Pennsylvania
This bill provides 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.
To apply for a non-certified copy you must first search the
birth indices (1906) or death indices (1906-1961) to obtain a Pennsylvania State File number. Pennsylvania
Read this page to learn more about applying for these records and the indexes.
Has this change in the PA vital records law impacted your research? If so, please share how.
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My mom's from PA and getting death certificates for her family has been difficult and expensive. To order a DC they required the date of death. If you didn't know it, then it was an additional $25 for a 10-year search. I did two that way, and they both took six months. Now I can look up the dates and order the certificates for a reasonable fee, though the wait is still long, up to 4 1/2 months. I hope that eventually they will follow the lead of the Missouri State Archives (along with a few others) and put the actual DCs on-line.ReplyDelete
The change has made a huge impact on the my progress and ability to obtain the information I need at a price I can manage. Almost all of my family for many generations were born and died in Pennsylvania. I was not sure of the date of death for several of them and could not afford the expense of the search. The headstones, where they existed, simply stated a year of death. Having the ability to search on line on my own for the date of death allowed me to locate other pieces of information in addition to ordering a copy of the certificate. I am dismayed at the suggested length of time it will take to provide the death certs I ordered, but I am glad that I will be able to get the copies I need without a huge expense. Waiting for those 23 pieces of mail is like waiting for Christmas!ReplyDelete
The new law passed in Pennsylvania made a big difference in searching for documents for my client. I was eagerly awaiting the fate of the proposed law and did write several letters to the legislature and Governor. The death dates were almost impossible to find partially because I was searching for people who used more than one given name in their lifetime. It is only the death certificates helped me sort out who is who in that family. I don't know how a good genealogical search can be achieved without any index. The churches are very cooperative but in the case of old cemeteries many times the records don't exist or the former administrators didn't keep good records. At present marriage records are also difficult to obtain as well as births without working with a living member of the family who has access to the records. This law was a big step forward for family history research in Pennsylvania .ReplyDelete
June C. DeLalio, CG