WASHINGTON — Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, wants to create a grant program to help libraries, universities and local and state governments to preserve their records for future genealogists.
He and Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., introduced on Monday the "Preserving the American Historical Record Act." It would authorize spending $50 million a year for five years for grants to governments around the country to help preserve records, whether in paper, electronic or other form.
"This legislation will allow state and local governments to make more historic documents — birth, death and marriage certificates, among many others — available to researchers and citizens. It will also provide employment opportunities in communities across the country," Hatch said.
"Family history and genealogical research is one of the most common enterprises people engage in online, and literally millions of Americans continue to use various family history resources every day."
Levin added, "Like Americans across the country, I take great pride in my ancestry and greatly enjoy learning about my family history. This legislation we are introducing today would help millions of Americans pursue this interest, while helping open up important public records for journalists and historians."
Among other original cosponsors of the bill is Sen. Bob Bennett, R-Utah. Reps. Maurice Hinchey, D-N.Y., and John McHugh, R-N.Y., have introduced a sister bill in the House, and Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, is among the cosponsors there.
Among groups backing the bill are Ancestry.com, the American Library Association, the Council of State Archivists and the National Association of Government Archives and Records Administrators.
— Lee Davidson