I saw this today on MyHeritage – A spotlight on Reclaim the Records – MyHeritage March 15, 2020: https://blog.myheritage.com/2020/03/a-spotlight-on-reclaim-the-records/.
I will point out Freedom of Information Acts (FOIA) have different names in various places, and each jurisdiction determines what are and are not available to the public. Kansas has Kansas Open Records Act (KORA). KORA does not treat many public records that other states consider public as public.
by Esther March 15, 2020
Today we’re writing about a non-profit organization that we believe deserves the spotlight — Reclaim the Records. Led by genealogist Brooke Schreier Ganz, this group of activists — which includes volunteer genealogists, researchers, lawyers, and open government advocates — works tirelessly to get public genealogical data released into the public domain. Their goal is to “put [records] online, for free, for everyone.”
Reclaim the Records locates important archival data sets that are not available to the public online, and they use Freedom of Information (FOIA) laws in the U.S. to get copies of this information released to the public. They document everything they learn about filing these requests, and create a guide for genealogists, open data fans, and others who want their state, local, and federal records made more available. When they meet with record custodians that defy the law, who drag their feet intentionally or unintentionally, they put up a legal fight, and they usually win.
Once they’ve acquired the records, they digitize what they can and put it all online for free, without paywalls or usage restrictions.
“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,” their website states.
So far, Reclaim the Records have achieved the public release of over 25 million records, which were previously accessible only by physically visiting government agencies and archive buildings, or not accessible at all.
We at MyHeritage truly appreciate the important work that Reclaim the Records does on a daily basis. We support them in their endeavors to open up records to the general public — a difficult but necessary mission. Their efforts align perfectly with our belief that every person has a right to know their heritage. We have benefitted from their work as well, and through us the entire genealogy community has benefitted. In every collection we publish to SuperSearch that was sourced by Reclaim the Records we give credit to this wonderful organization.
To show our solidarity with Reclaim the Records and its mission, the senior management team of MyHeritage gathered last week to take the picture below, all proudly wearing yellow Reclaim the Records t-shirts:
To learn more about Reclaim the Records and the important work they do — or to contribute to their cause — visit their website: https://www.reclaimtherecords.org/.