Friday, June 7, 2013

Maine vital records ridonkulousness

Wow.

This all I have to say after the phone call I received from Maine's office of vital records this morning, regarding the request I recently sent for the death record of a 2nd great-grandmother who (unfortunately) died in that state.

I had sent my request, along with a check for $15 and copy of my driver's license, and a stamped, self-addressed envelope, on Monday morning before heading to work-- only to be told in a voicemail message that I would need to also submit proof of lineage from my ancestor in the form of birth certificates from me to her daughter.

Proof of lineage.... are you kidding me? I'm not trying to join the DAR, guys, I just want an 85-year-old death record. As if I would go to the trouble and expense of trying to order this if I were not related.

And what does it matter if the requestor of a 1927 death record is a relative or not anyway? Why shouldn't it be accessible to everyone?

If this were a birth record, privacy and security would be legitimate concerns because the person might still be alive. But I see no valid reason for restricting access to old death records so tightly.

Massachusetts, to its credit, doesn't request any proof of identity, and New Hampshire only asks for a copy of a photo ID. Why Maine imposes such ridiculous requirements as documents proving lineage just to get a copy of a Prohibition-age death certificate is baffling.

I have my birth certificate and my mother's. But all I have for my grandfather Henry is a document showing his birth registered in Cambridge, not an actual birth certificate. For his mother, Estelle, my great-grandmother and the daughter of the 2nd-great-grandmother whose death record I'm trying to obtain, I have only a death record, no birth record at all. The death record does list Estelle's parents' names (includes the name of my 2nd great-grandmother Jessie). I sincerely hope these are acceptable, and that Maine does not require actual, official birth certificates. If they do, they can just forget it.

It's a messed-up world we live in when the dead have more privacy than the living.