Price hike for certified copies frustrating genealogists

AKRON, Ohio (AP) - A state law implemented this summer that increases the price of photocopying birth and death certificates is proving burdensome for many genealogists who compile family histories.
The cost of certified copies has jumped by $5 per record for a 50 percent increase in many cases. Uncertified photocopies of the certificates, which used to cost a nickel or a dime, are no longer issued.
The Akron Health Department increased its prices from $10 to $15. The Summit County and Barberton health departments now charge $16 for the records, up from $11.
"Everybody is aghast and horrified," said Lois Noirot, president of the Summit County chapter of the Ohio Genealogical Society. Genealogists seeking records now will have to be "more selective and you won't get all the information you would like to have," she said.
The revenue from the $5 increase for certified copies will be used to pay for the computerization of all records at the state and local health departments, said Dr. Sandra McGuire, chief of health statistics for the Ohio Department of Health. That will ultimately make the documents more accessible, she said.
"In the long run, even for genealogists, it will be much easier. ... You will be able to peruse all records of the state," McGuire said.
Computerization of the records, which date back to 1904, is expected to be complete by 2009, McGuire said. Cost of the project is about $15 million.
Family researchers still can go to state or local health departments and copy down the information on birth and death certificates at no cost, McGuire said.
The new law is making it difficult for people to do basic family research, said Paula Moran, director of the Summit County Historical Society.
(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)