A nonprofit claims its request to obtain genealogical records from state archives was brushed aside in favor of Ancestry’s request.
I know that Michael Peck, my great-great-great-grandfather, died on July 14, 1922. I know this because last October I visited the cemetery in Cornwall, New York, to find the date on his headstone. I had been searching for information on Michael for almost a decade on Ancestry.com, but never found any information about his death. Had I waited until a few weeks ago, I could have saved myself the trip upstate. Ancestry finally added the New York State Death Index for 1852–1956 to its collection, and I would have found Michael’s date of death with a few clicks of a mouse.
This new archive on Ancestry, however, was added under questionable circumstances, one genealogist claims. Brooke Schreier Ganz, the founder of the nonprofit group Reclaim the Records, has filed a lawsuit against the New York state agency handling the records, calling into question whether it engages in backroom dealings or preferential treatment with Ancestry.
According to the lawsuit, “although the same Records Access Office at [the Department of Health] handled both [Freedom of Information Act] requests, the timeline and procedures followed throughout the process for Ms. Ganz and Reclaim the Records was different than it was for Ancestry.com.”