WHO ARE YOU?
Reclaim The Records is a not-for-profit activist group of genealogists, historians, researchers, and journalists. We work to identify important genealogical record sets that are not online anywhere and not broadly available to the public. We then use state Freedom of Information laws to force government agencies and archives to hand over copies of these records to the public, which we then digitize and put online for free use. Other organizations and companies are then free to make transcriptions and searchable databases of our images and data, if they wish.
Since our founding in 2015, we’ve already won the release of tens of millions of records. We upload all the records we acquire to the Internet Archive, as well as other Open Data websites. When government agencies fail to respond to our requests in a timely manner or are unwilling to comply with the law, we take them to court. We’ve won outright, or won settlements, in several groundbreaking lawsuits in the Supreme Court of New York, such as the release of decades of the New York City marriage license index and database. We have more requests and potential lawsuits pending for other records from other states, and also from the federal government.
The bottom line is this: we want public records to be returned to the public. The law is on our side, and we’re not afraid to use it.
HERE'S HOW YOU CAN HELP
Too many government agencies and archives have long treated genealogists as if we were asking them for a favor when we ask to see their records — our records — rather than recognizing their responsibilities to the public under the law.
Reclaim The Records is changing that. If you like what we’re doing, if you want to see more records returned to the public domain, and if you want to see this approach brought to more record sets in more states, we hope you’ll consider making a contribution to our work.
Reclaim The Records was founded by Brooke Schreier Ganz in January 2015, filing our first few Freedom of Information lawsuits in the states of New York and Missouri as an ad hoc unincorporated association.
In December 2016, we formally incorporated, drafting and signing our by-laws, and in February 2017 we gained IRS recognition as a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. Our EIN is 81-4985446. You can check out our 2017 IRS Form 990 and 2018 Form 990, if you like — we would be hypocritical to push for more transparency for archives and agencies if we didn’t exemplify it ourselves!
We have no paid staff, and our eight-member board of directors all serve as volunteers.
OTHER WAYS TO HELP
- Take our records survey to help us identify more genealogical and historical records that are being unfairly blocked from public access
- Subscribe to our free e-mail newsletter
- Introduce us to pro bono lawyers with experience in Open Records and Freedom of Information lawsuits
- Like our page on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ReclaimTheRecords/
- Read our snarky GIF-filled tweets on Twitter at @ReclaimTheRecs
- Tell your friends about us!