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May 18, 2021

Third Annual Shirley M. Barnes Records Access Award to Jan Meisels Allen

I have known Jan Allen for a number of years and must say this award is well-deserved! The following was written by the Massachusetts Genealogical Council:

“Massachusetts Genealogical Council Awards the Third Annual Shirley M. Barnes Records Access Award to Jan Meisels Allen, Chair of the Public Records Access Monitoring Committee of the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies and Sponsoring Member of the U.S. Records Preservation and Access Coalition.”

(VIRTUAL: 1:00 PM, May 16, 2021) At the Society Fair of the New England Regional Genealogical Conference, the Massachusetts Genealogical Council (MGC) awarded its third annual Shirley M. Barnes Records Access Award to Jan Meisels Allen, the chair of the Public Records Access Monitoring Committee of the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies. The award is an engraved book clock, a replica of the award presented to Shirley Barnes July 14, 2007, upon her retirement as Civil Records Director of MGC.

WHO IS JAN MEISELS ALLEN? Since 2003 Jan has been the chairperson of the Public Records Access Monitoring Committee (PRAMC) of the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies (IAJGS). She served on the IAJGS Board of Directors from 2004-2013. Since 2004 she represents IAJGS as a sponsoring member on the Records Preservation and Access Coalition (RPAC). In 2015 she was awarded the IAJGS Volunteer of the Year award. In 2013, the National Genealogical Society (NGS) awarded Jan the President’s Citation. In addition to her international and national work, she has served the boards of local Jewish genealogical societies in California. She continues to research her own Polish, Hungarian, and Galician roots. Jan’s work for records access is seen in her frequent Records Access Alerts on behalf of PRAMC. In recent years, Jan’s support of MGC in her letters citing law and precedent have been instrumental in our successes.

WHO WAS SHIRLEY M. BARNES? A little slip of a woman, frequently donning an inviting smile, and a big “Save Massachusetts Records” button, Shirley M. Barnes (Image right: Shirley M. (Armstrong) Barnes in the statehouse, circa 1983) was committed to advocating for record preservation and access. Weekly she rode the commuter rail from Concord to Boston to walk the statehouse, visiting with legislators. Her work brought about the 1983 Massachusetts vital records law which mandated the transfer of vital records to the state archives in five-year intervals. After 25 years of dedicated service as MGC’s Civil Records Director, Shirley tirelessly stayed on the board, mentoring her successors, until recently, attending meetings became a physical challenge.

THE SHIRLEY M. BARNES RECORDS ACCESS AWARD: The Massachusetts Genealogical Council, at the annual meeting on February 17, 2019, established an annual award to be given in memory of Shirley M. (Armstrong) Barnes at a luncheon, held in odd years at the New England Regional Genealogical Conference and in even years at the MGC Annual Seminar. The award will recognize people who emulate Shirley’s volunteer spirit and whose dedication to records access has made a significant impact for genealogists. See www.massgencouncil.org/shirley-barnes-records-access-award for more information.

MASSACHUSETTS GENEALOGICAL COUNCIL: The Massachusetts Genealogical Council is an umbrella organization of Massachusetts genealogical and historical societies and libraries. We provide educational seminars and conferences to the members of those organizations. We also monitor legislative and administrative activity that might impact genealogists and historians.

May 18, 2021

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