Thanks to the efforts of so many, Act 110 goes into effect today, allowing greater records access in Pennsylvania.  You can read more about this new law in a press release by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission: New Access to State Birth, Death Records Eases Genealogical Research.

The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission and the Department of Health are offering expanded public access to birth and death records.  Birth records now become public information after 105 years of issuance and death records 50 years after issuance.  These records can be accessed online or in person at the Pennsylvania State Archives.  Since I’m in Connecticut and only research onsite in Pennsylvania one week per year, online works for me.

Within just a few minutes, I was able to locate my husband’s great-grandfather Charles W. Zinck, who died in 1937, his wife Annie E., who died in 1914, and Annie’s father Daniel Weidler, who died in 1906.  I don’t happen to have anyone born in 1906 to look for so the birth records were less useful to me for the time being.  That will, of course, change in time.  I will definitely return to the site when I have time to review year by year.

Non-certified copies of birth and death records can be ordered online from the Department of Health for $3.00 charge but you must include the state file number, which is available in the index.  Be sure to enclose a SASE.  The website says that mail requests take 16-18 weeks from date of receipt to be processed.  If you are able to go to Harrisburg in person or hire someone to do so, that’s certainly the more efficient way.  However, if you’re not in a hurry, spend the time to fill out the forms and get a surprise in your mailbox sometime next summer like I will.


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