Genealogy During a Government Shutdown

In the United States, a government shutdown happens when Congress does not approve a federal budget for the upcoming fiscal year. When that occurs, nonessential functions of the U.S. Government close until lawmakers can agree on a budget. Could a government shutdown prevent you from accessing the information you need for your genealogy research?

The United States government has shut down 12 times between 1981 and 2018. The shortest shutdown lasted for one day. There was a 21-day shutdown that started in December of 1995 and ended in January of 1996. The government shutdown in 2013 lasted a total of 16 days.

Here is a list of genealogy related resources that closed during the 2018 shutdown:

The National Archives posted a message on their website that said: “Due to the shutdown of the Federal Government, National Archives facilities are closed, websites and social media are not being updated or monitored, and activities are canceled, with the following exceptions: Federal Records Centers, Federal Register, the Ronald Regan Museum and George W. Bush Museum”.

The Statue of Liberty website posted a message that said: “Because of the federal government shutdown, this website is not being updated and may not reflect current conditions. For your planning purposes, some parks in the National Park System may have areas that remain accessible to visitors; however access may change without notice, and some parks are closed completely.

Some lodging, restaurants and other facilities may be available when provided by concessioners or other entities. Be aware that there will be no National Park-provided visitor services, including restrooms, trash collection, facilities, or road maintenance.”

That being said, Governor of New York, Andrew M. Cuomo announced that New York State will fully fund National Park Service personnel and costs of operations at the cost of $65,000 per day to keep the Statue of Liberty National Monument and Ellis Island open to visitors during the shutdown.

The Washington Post reported that libraries and city government buildings will remain open during a federal government shutdown. This is possible because they are controlled locally and not by the federal government.

The United States Courts website posted information on January 20, 2018: “Despite a government shutdown, the federal Judiciary will remain open and can continue operations for approximately three weeks, through February 9, by using court fee balances and other funds not dependent on a new appropriation.”

Related Articles at

* Veterans’ Records – National Archives

* MyHeritage Has Ellis Island Passenger Lists

* Open Parks Network – A Resource for Genealogists

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