Thursday, May 28, 2009

Overreaching Government restricts access to records (again!)

After being told at the Jay County Indiana Recorder's office that I could not obtain a copy of the discharge papers from my ancestor, Luman Walker Lemasters, due to privacy concerns and current Indiana law, I contacted my state representative and received the following reply:

Dear Mr. LeMaster,

Thank you for your e-mail. Representative Turner received your correspondence and asked that I respond on his behalf.

After speaking to the Department of Veterans' Affairs, you are correct, you can't obtain your great-great-grandfather's discharge papers without photo identification and a copy of his death certificate. The Department of Veterans' Affairs suggested that you could try your local library, apparently many local libraries have copies of Civil War discharges.

At this point in time it is too late in the legislative session to introduce new legislation; however, Representative Turner will keep your situation in mind as he drafts legislation for the 2010 legislative session.

Again, thank you for your e-mail. Please do not hesitate to contact Representative Turner with further questions or concerns.

Fortunately, I already had a copy from the National Archives and was able to verify (sneak a peak) at the miscelleanous records book in Jay County to verify that there was nothing new there. I found it ironic that I was discussing privacy act and laws with a clerk who didn't understand the silliness of worrying about Socrial Security numbers, etc. being disclosed in a discharge paper for a man who died before there was such a thing as Social Security.

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