A public record is a term used to describe any publicly available information kept on file by a local, state or federal government. U.S. Freedom of Information Act have put more of the records held by the U.S. Government into more-accessible forums such as the National Archives. Private citizens can access these records and search, to use them for a variety of purposes.
Most records made public are kept to track changes in the population, such as births, deaths, marriages and domestic partnerships. Obtaining copies of these records is simple. There is often a small fee involved. Processing can sometimes be lengthy. Some areas limit the availability to the person named on the record, but some areas allow anyone to access any public record.