Cross-posted from the genealogy librarians list:
Legislation affecting genealogical research pending in West Virginia:
West Virginia Legislature is considering bill that revamps Vital
Registration Office, and would close death, fetal death, marriage,
divorce and annulment records for 50 years; births for 100 years. Gives
state registrar control over all vital records held by local and state
agencies, not just those previously held by state Health Dept. (Have no
idea of the implications for all the GSU/LDS microfilm out in the world
held by non-governmental agencies.) When similar legislation was
proposed last year, we were given to understand we would no longer be
allowed to give public access to county records on microfilm that
contained even one "closed" record. This means that unless we choose to
make all these rolls of microfilm unavailable, staff would have to look
up and print off any "open" records requested off reels with "closed"
records on them. Nightmare!!
Last year's bill was killed suddenly with no explanation at the last
minute. Given that someone probably has been working out the
technicalities on this legislation during the course of the year since,
I'd say this one will probably pass. Chief impetus seems to be
compliance with Homeland Security edicts, including provisions to
cross-match and mark birth certificates with death certificates, and to
be able to share this information with other states.
When the West Virginia Vital Research Records project went online, we
saw signs of things to come. While the State Archives at the present
time is allowed to sell copies of state death certificates up through
1973, and state birth and delayed birth certificates up through 1929,
when the decision was made to place some of these records on line in
2005, the cut off for death certificates was 50 years, and no state
birth records were included. County birth records from the initial
counties placed online go up to the point at which those counties'
record were microfilmed in the 1960's-1970, but future records will be
added only after passing the 100 year mark.
WV Archives and History Library
The Cultural Center
1900 Kanawha Blvd. East
Charleston, WV 25305-0300
(304) 558-0230, Ext. 742