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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Ind. Gov't. - Vanderburgh County changes death-record policy

From a story in the Evansville Courier & Press, reported by Tim Ethridge:

Officially titled "On The Record," it's placed in the Local section and is where, on Sundays, we list our legislators' votes, marriage licenses and divorce declarations, bankruptcies, food inspections, births and, until recently, deaths and their causes.

Today, you'll notice, we have again listed deaths, but not the causes. That information is no longer made available to us by the Vanderburgh County Health Department.

According to a letter we received from county attorney Joe Harrison Jr., "such information is not required to be kept, and will not be included in the future permanent death records of the Health Department."

Being the contrarians that we are, we asked our attorney, Pat Shoulders, to look into it. Shoulders confirmed that a 2007 ruling by an Indiana public access counselor confirmed that the only required records on a death certificate are name, sex, age, place of death, residence address and Social Security number (which cannot be released to the public). * * *

Harrison, in an email, said that the department receives "a number of public records requests each week."

He said that the department chose to discontinue providing cause of death information to the public, including the newspaper, in order to save costs. * * *

But for researchers, genealogists (the much-honored site maintained by the late Charles Browning's family at browninggenealogy.org has included causes of death) and, of course, nosy neighbors, it's an unfortunate step back in public information.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on May 22, 2012 12:47 PM
Posted to Indiana Government