I was really pleased to learn about Reclaim the Records, a non -profit group of genealogists, researchers, historians and open-government advocates who are using Freedom of Information requests to get state governments to make genealogical and archival records freely available to the public.
The group was founded in 2015 by Brooke Schreier Ganz and has already successfully petitioned for a collection of marriage records to be released. Their pilot project was an index to the 1908-1929 New York City marriage license, applications and affidavits that was only available on microfilm on site in lower Manhattan. Thanks to Reclaim the Records’ efforts–which took the NYC Department of Records and Information Services all the way to the Supreme Court of the state of New York–that data set is now scanned and available on the Internet Archive for free and open access. You can read the complete sage on their website.
Reclaim the Records has seven other pilot projects, the second of which opened up the index to all 1930-1995 New York City marriages. Two of those projects (#6 and #7) have special interest to me because they involve Missouri birth and death indexes. My fair state has proven difficult at best and Reclaim the Records has filed litigation in both cases.
I find their efforts extremely interesting and I’m grateful to them for working so hard to make genealogical and archival information available to all. I encourage you to check out their website, including their To-Do List, to see what’s on the horizon. You can also take their Records Survey to inform them about data sets you think are wrongly withheld from the public.
Thanks so much to Organize Your Family History reader Diane Unger for telling me about Reclaim the Records!