15 July 2017

Reclaim the Records

Reclaim the Records, a not-for-profit group of genealogist, historians, and researchers has been doing good work! Their goal is to get previously restricted records made available online for free. From their website:

Tired of restrictions and paywalls around public data? So are we.

We’re Reclaim the Records, a not-for-profit group of genealogists, historians, researchers, and open government advocates who are filing Freedom of Information requests to get public data released back into the public domain. We’re collecting information about archivally important data sets that are not available online or on microfilm, and we’re using Freedom of Information laws and Open Data initiatives to get copies of this information released back to the public.

We were founded in 2015 by Brooke Schreier Ganz, a genealogy nerd who lives in California, and we launched publicly in early September 2015. Within six weeks we already had more than 1,000 supporters subscribed to our e-mail newsletter and more than 1,100 people who Liked our Facebook page. By February 2016, our newsletter had grown to over 1,600 subscribers, and by July 1, 2016 we had over 2,300 subscribers.

We make requests for copies of genealogical and archival records and data, from city and state libraries, archives, city clerks’ offices, departments of health, and other government agencies. Our primary method to force the release of this data is the use of state Freedom of Information laws. We started with one pilot project in 2015, and after winning the release of that data, we launched six more records requests in late 2015 and early 2016.

We’ve started our work in archives, libraries, and government agencies in New York, New Jersey, and Missouri, and are expanding into different parts of the country, based on demand from people like you. Along the way, we’ll be documenting everything we’ve learned about filing Freedom of Information Act requests, and creating a Do-It-Yourself guide for genealogists, open data fans, and others who want their state, local, and Federal records made more available.