South Dakota, Vital Records, and Genealogists

Things are getting more and more ridiculous. Dirk Lammers has written an article for the Associated Press, published in the Aberdeen News, Law changes leave vital records indexes out of sunshine, about some of the restrictions placed on South Dakotans who are interested in genealogy. All in the name of security. I can understand not obtaining recent records, but some restrictions that other states (not necessarily SD) are passing are getting really silly (or scary, however you want to look at it). David Bordewyk, general manager of the South Dakota Newspaper Association, points out just how ridiculous this is – South Dakota is doing this, basically in advance of what may or may not happen at the federal level (and don’t get me started on the federal government telling the states how to maintain their records).

Excerpt from the article:

South Dakota passed its new vital records law in 2005 with the intent of increasing the security of some public records for anti-terrorism purposes.

The original version would have closed birth, marriage and death records to anyone other than the person in the document, but a compromise reached between Health Department officials and the state’s newspaper and genealogical associations ensured that the public still could get non-certified informational copies.

The law makes no specific mention of indexes, which Mueller said is why they are closed under the new law.

That interpretation concerned the state’s genealogists, who commonly use such indexes to research family tree information.

So under a deal cut between the genealogists and the state Health Department, counties may make marriage and death indexes available to South Dakota Genealogical Society members.

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