JewishGen Discussion Group #JewishGen Reclaim The Records files new lawsuit asking for all New York City death certificates 1949-1968 *AND* for nullification of NYC DOH records access rules #general


Hello again >from Reclaim The Records! We='re that scrappy little
activist group of genealogists, historians, journalists, and open
government advocates, fighting for better public access to
government-held genealogical and historical documents. And today, we
have some very exciting news.

We just filed a new lawsuit, the biggest, baddest Freedom of
Information lawsuit that we've ever filed. It's a milestone case, not
only for our organization, but also for how genealogists, historians,
and researchers as a community deal with government agencies who
routinely withhold historical records >from the public, and who pass
capricious and irrational restrictions on public access.

Yesterday afternoon, in the Supreme Court of New York, New York
County, we filed an Article 78 Petition against the following agencies
and people:

- The New York City Department of Mental Health and Hygiene
- The New York City Bureau of Vital Statistics
- The New York City Board of Health
- Oxiris Barbot in her official capacity as New York City Commissioner of
- Gretchen Van Wye in her official capacity as New York City Registrar
- And last but certainly not least, Steven P. Schwartz in his official
capacity as former New York City Registrar

This Petition challenges not only the Department of Healths refusal
to disclose records to us based on New York's Freedom of Information
Law (FOIL), but it also challenges the Department of Health's
restrictive regulations themselves. Additionally, this is the first
time that our organization has gone after actual vital record
certificates, as opposed to a records index of some sort.

And you can ***Read All About It***, including direct links to all our
paperwork and court filings, in our latest newsletter, which is also
available on our website:

If you want to skip right to the actual Article 78 Petition text (as a
PDF), it's here:
[or --Mod.]

(It's forty-seven pages of fun!)

Because this is a Jewish genealogy listserve, we should add this important

We're asking for uncertified scanned copies of all New York City death
certificates for the years 1949-1968. It's over 1.6 million records.
During this time period, the population of NYC was approximately 25%
Jewish. (That doesn't mean 25% *of deaths* in this time period were
also Jewish people, but probably close to that.)

So, *if* we win this case, this would be approximately 400,000 death
certificates for Jews >from what was at the time the largest Jewish
population in the world. And most of the certificates have the
decedent's parents and/or spouses named too. So that could be as many
as 1.6 million names in total. And so this would be one of the largest
***Public And Free*** Jewish genealogy records collections in existence.

Also, make sure you check out David Bushman's affidavit in support of
the lawsuit, which is linked >from our newsletter -- he explicitly
brings up the issue of BRCA carriers needing access to these records
for family health reasons.

Happy to answer questions...enjoy the reading!

- Brooke Schreier Ganz
Mill Valley, California
President and Founder, Reclaim The Records

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