Wednesday, September 27, 2017

How Do You Fight the Empire State, and Win?

This is a fantastic genealogical records story, and the result benefits all of us because it provides inspiration, an excellent example, and tangible results.  Thank you to Reclaim the Records!!

Have you read the 16th Reclaim the Records newsletter?  

Go ahead - click on over there and read the story.  I'll wait for you to come back.

Did you subscribe to their FREE email newsletter?  I did. 

Have you checked the FREE, but unindexed, browsable New York records in the Internet Archive -

The same records are on behind the paywall indexed or browsable - at

I love the Reclaim the Records story in their newsletter.  The chapters are:

I - We ask nicely
II - The state breaks the law - a lot
III - Bring on the lawyers
IV - FOIL request, take two
V - Can we scan that for you
VI - New York hires an archivist
VII - Nope, not ours
VIII - Free at last
IX - There's no such thing as a free lunch
X - Ancestry takes the credit
XI - We share our toys
XII - We FOIL Albany, Buffalo and Yonkers
XIII - More Awesome Records Real Soon

I especially like the part where NYGBS, NEHGS, FamilySearch and MyHeritage will get their own set of the records and offer indexes.

This is collaborative genealogy at its finest, and we should applaud the work of these folks.  Folks can also donate to their work - at

There are 132 Seaver entries (but some are duplicates) in the New York Death Index, 1880-1956 database!  Cool.  Here is a screen image of one of the pages with a Seaver on it:

Hat tip to James Tanner's blog post - A Cautionary Tale from Reclaim the Records (posted 27 September 2017) - for leading me to the website and the records.


Copyright (c) 2017, Randall J. Seaver

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Genbook said...

I used to work in a location that had these indexes, and the State would send in undercover people to verify that we were not allowing copies to be made, photos to be taken etc. I am not kidding. "If you had done that we would have yanked these in an instant", I was told to my face. But now this is great news! I have already donated. They are working on a lot more than just New York.

Rick Crume said...

The tight security surrounding access to the New York vital records indexes on microfiche stands out as one of the most absurd things I’ve ever seen. I used them at the New York State Library several years ago. As I recall, I had to turn in my driver's license and go into a special room to view the microfiches, which were very old and hard to read. I still don't understand why New York had such a ridiculous policy restricting access to the indexes. Thanks to Reclaim the Records for their persistence in fighting stupid rules.